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Winning the Respect You Deserve

VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 16

									Texas Teacher
Texas AFT                                       July 2010




                                     Winning
                                   the Respect
                                   You Deserve




   Texas AFT scores win on truth-in-grading law, p. 14
                                                     Viewpoint
 Will it be respect or attacks in the coming school year?

I      t’s time for elected officials to
       show you the respect you de-
       serve. As the 2009-2010 school
year came to an end, I found myself
reflecting on multiple attacks target-
                                                                                   appeals, duty-free lunch, educator
                                                                                   appraisals, induction and mentor-
                                                                                   ing, years of creditable service and
                                                                                   many other policy matters of impor-
                                                                                   tance to Texas AFT members. Many
ed at public schools and public school                                             of these issues are being dangled
educators.                                                                         before school administrators in hope
    Some pundits were applauding                                                   of getting them to buy into changes
the proposed personnel cuts as the                                                 in lieu of additional funding to oper-
excuse needed to promote charter                                                   ate their schools, which are seriously
schools and reduce funding for public                                              underfunded. But “mandate relief”
schools.                                                                           is no substitute for financing public
    The American Association of                   by Linda Bridges                 education appropriately so that our
School Administrators projects                    Texas AFT President              children can succeed.
nationwide personnel cuts this year                                                     As I work on these issues, I keep
in the range of 275,000 to 300,000                                                 hearing in my head Aretha Franklin
educators. One would hope the public           • Ft. Bend ISD–465 teachers cut     singing her classic song, “RESPECT.”
understands the negative impact this           • Houston ISD–780 employees cut     It seems to me it is time for a bit of
will have on public education in the           • Pearland ISD–replaced nurses      respect for you and the job you do. If
United States. Think of the conse-         and librarians with health care         legislators and policy makers really
quences if these cuts come about.          assistants and uncertified library      want to show respect for you, they
Class sizes will explode and educa-        managers                                can do it by…
tion will become a risky career choice         • McAllen ISD–125 teachers cut
for young people.                              • Aledo ISD–cutting salaries by         Raising salaries and improv-
    News articles paint a disturbing       5 percent across the board.             ing benefits to attract and keep high
picture of this crisis. The following                                              quality employees and funding our
are a few examples of proposed cuts:          The jobs bill being considered in    schools to give every student the op-
                                           Congress this summer offers the best    portunity to succeed.
     • St. Paul, Minnesota–267             hope of turning this crisis around.
positions plus an elementary music                                                     Ending the destructive overem-
program                                                                            phasis on standardized tests and
                                              The American Association of          developing teacher-driven, effective
     • Kansas City–closing 30 of 61           School Administrators projects
schools                                                                            professional development.
                                              nationwide personnel cuts this           Strengthening teacher grad-
     • St. Louis–cutting 500 jobs,            year in the range of 275,000 to
closing six schools (in addition to 13                                             ing authority and seeing to it that
                                              300,000 educators.                   districts comply with the state law
already closed) to cover a $58 million
deficit                                                                            prohibiting minimum grades.
                                           The $23 billion called for in the           Preserving class sizes that
     • California–36,000 cuts (With        legislation would save an estimated
fewer custodians, classrooms will not                                              promote teaching and learning and
                                           220,000 educator jobs. Passage of       upholding the 22:1 class size limit for
get cleaned nightly; art, music, and       this federal legislation would add
adult education classes are disap-                                                 grades K-4.
                                           nearly $2 billion dollars to public         Ensuring fair treatment for all
pearing as well.)                          education in Texas to save jobs.
     • Cleveland–closing 16 schools                                                employees and helping them become
                                               We shouldn’t have to be fight-      true partners in policy-making.
and cutting 650 teachers to cover a        ing for our jobs when there are so
$50 million shortfall                                                                  Creating a teacher-developed
                                           many other fights to be engaged in      world-class curriculum and stan-
     • Chicago–$600 million deficit        over the summer and as the Texas
that threatens layoffs of 2,700 teach-                                             dards.
                                           Legislature convenes in January.            Taking action to keep schools
ers, increases in class size from 30 to    Over the summer, the commis-
35, and program cuts.                                                              safe and supporting the Safe Schools
                                           sioner of education will conduct a      Act.
    Cuts are not just an issue outside     review of his rules governing the
of Texas. They are underway through-       22:1 class size cap waivers in grades       Join us in winning “RESPECT”
out the sate. A few examples are:          K-4, teacher contract hearings and      for you and the job you do!



2    July 2010
                                                       Social Networking...




                                   Sign on to “Like” us on our Facebook fan
                                   page or to follow us on Twitter at
                                   www.texasaft.org before August 31,
                                                                                                    Just pop off
                                   2010, and you’ll be entered into a draw-                         my head for
                                   ing to win a Texas AFT USB drive!                                a gigabyte of
                                                                                                    storage :)




                                  Class-size limits
                                  and other             Texas Teacher
INSIDE




                                  important
                                  reforms face                              July 2010
                                  attack in budget
                                  squeeze, page 6        Texas Teacher is the award-winning publication of
                                                      Texas AFT, an affiliate of the American Federation of
                                                      Teachers, AFL-CIO, and is printed in January, April, July,
                                                      and October. To be added to our mailing list, contact Rob
                                                      D’Amico at (800) 222-3827 or editor@texasaft.org.
                                                                                 3000 South IH-35, Ste. 175
  Viewpoint                                 2
                                                                                     Austin, TX 78704
  From the Secretary-Treasurer              4
  Making a difference at the ballot box     5                                     Phone: (800) 222-3827
  Class-size limits under attack            6                                         (512) 448-0130
  What does respect look like?              7                                 On the Web: www.texasaft.org
                                                                                 President: Linda Bridges
  Winning the Respect You Deserve           8                              Secretary-Treasurer: John O’Sullivan
  Member Benefits                           11                                     Editor: Rob D’Amico
  Legislative Agenda for 2011 session       12
  Revenue coalition seeks cure for budget   13
  Court upholds truth-in-grading law        14                       Texas AFT is a member of the
  Texas AFT secretary-treasurer retires     15                       AFT Communicators Network




                                                                                                3 July 2010
                                      From the Secretary-treaSurer
                                          Respect yourself
A           ugust 31, 2010, for me marks
            the end of 41 years in service
            to public education. I’m retir-
ing. I’ve earned it. The first 10 years
were spent as a high school teacher
                                                                                        is not allowed at all in Texas. State
                                                                                        statutes in 36 states permit collective
                                                                                        bargaining at various levels, while
                                                                                        another five states allow for local
                                                                                        decisions on the matter. Texas has
in the Houston Independent School                                                       authorized collective bargaining for
District. The next 31 years have been                                                   other public employees—police, fire-
in full-time service to the membership                                                  fighters and some other government
of the American Federation of Teach-                                                    employees—but not for us.)
ers, first in Houston and since 1983                                                         Yes, there are a few school dis-
in Austin as the secretary-treasurer                                                    tricts in Texas where the school board
for Texas AFT. There are easier and                          .
                                                    by John P O’Sullivan                has agreed to allow employees to
better-paid ways to make a living, but                   Texas AFT                      elect a single employee organization
I have no regrets for the path taken.                Secretary-Treasurer                to serve as a voice for their concerns.
     When I joined the Houston Fed-                                                     In these districts we can build and
eration of Teachers in 1973 as a young        to meet the terms of this contract by     sustain a stronger organization for all
teacher, I was among the first 100            leaving my position, I would be de-       school employees with real political
members. Though we were small in              nied teaching employment anywhere         power. These local unions also achieve
number locally, I was excited about the       else in Texas and suffer the suspen-      “consultation agreements” on selected
prospect of AFT as a new education            sion of my certification to teach. Any    issues of importance. But these agree-
employee union on the Texas scene.            attempt to join others in a strike for    ments depend upon maintaining a
AFT was and still is committed to the         a better contract would bring the         majority on the school board that will
assertive defense of its members, pub-        same penalty effectively for life.        honor their provisions. Meanwhile,
lic advocacy and collective bargaining            So what has changed since my          most Texas education employees work
for public school employees. Legend-          AFT beginnings in 1973? Well, we’ve       in school districts where three or four
ary teacher and AFT leader Albert             gained a lot of change for the better.    employee organizations spend their
Shanker in the 1960s had broken the                                                     time, money, and talent competing
mold of the passive-teacher stereotype         ...we believe that the ultimate path     for membership instead of negotiat-
and won collective bargaining for edu-         to respect and fulfillment in our pro-   ing with the administration and the
cational employees in New York.                fession is through joining together      school board. The administration
     Those AFT contracts had teeth.            in the union.                            loves this divided-we-fail system; the
The contracts provided for significant                                                  administration’s voice is the only one
improvements in wages, hours and              We have won state-guaranteed class-       clearly and consistently heard by
conditions of employment. They gave           size limits, planning and preparation     the school board or the community.
workers at each site a real voice in          time, duty-free lunch periods, inde-      The best local unions without elected
workplace issues. Non-supervisory em-         pendent due process hearing rights,       consultation can do is to exercise the
ployees no longer had to serve as an          and some pay and benefit increases.       grievance rights of public employees
echo chamber for the administration.          Passing the Safe Schools Act, which       as defined in Texas law. We grieve
And these contracts were legally bind-        empowers teachers to remove disrup-       against violations of local policy and
ing and enforceable from the school           tive students, is a real highlight of     state law and help our colleagues
house to the courthouse.                      my time with the union. But not           as we can. So we have a beneficial
     The teacher contract I was com-          enough has changed structurally on        impact on many individuals, but not
pelled to sign each year in Houston           the front of negotiating directly with    as often on systemic policies. We elect
ISD in those days was an embarrass-           administrators. Classified employees      friendly school board members, but
ment. It was a single sheet of paper          are still “employees at will.” In most    achieving the friendly majority is
with my name at the top that bound            instances, they can be dismissed for      often elusive.
me to a type of slavery for a ten-month       any cause or no cause at all as long           In an environment as inhospi-
period. It closed with a catch-all obli-      as it is not discriminatory or outright   table as ours in Texas, mere survival
gation for me to “perform other duties        illegal. Teachers are still signing the
as assigned” and didn’t even state the        obnoxious one-sided contract. Collec-
amount I was to be paid. Yet, if I failed     tive bargaining for school employees                            continued next page




4    July 2010
is an achievement. We exist despite       the state and local level to beat back             understand what we’re up against
concerted, well-planned, persistent       harmful proposals and enact positive               may have just given up. But think
efforts by our adversaries either to      policies.                                          about what they have given up on.
eliminate us altogether or to replace         Why do we persist in the effort to             They have given up on themselves.
us with some other organization in        organize new union members amidst                  Their decision to check their right to
their control—the so-called “company      so many challenges? Because at                     workplace democracy at the school
union.” Yet Texas AFT and its local       Texas AFT we believe that the ulti-                house door shows a lack of self-respect
unions have managed not just to           mate path to respect and fulfillment               and hinders the rest of us. It was my
survive, but to grow year after year.     in our profession is through joining               job and remains our mission at Texas
The 100-member local I joined in          together in the union. And there’s                 AFT to overcome that self-defeating
1973 is now 7,000 members strong.         plenty of room for optimism that                   mindset and demonstrate the effec-
Texas AFT (then known as the Texas        our numbers will continue to rise.                 tiveness of collective action en route to
Federation of Teachers) counted 4,800     Some of our colleagues in schools are              full collective bargaining.
members statewide when I came to          politically asleep, fail to understand                  Thirty seven years ago I joined
serve in 1983, and now we are 64,000      the structural problems we confront,               AFT, and if again given back my
strong.                                   and merely need to wake up and see                 youth, I would join it again.
    We have taken that growth and         the light, with a little help from their                The union is for those who respect
leveraged it with political action on     friends. A few of our colleagues who               themselves.



                   Making a difference at the ballot box
                While the spring school
                board races yielded             On the Campaign Trail
                positive results for
                Texas AFT locals, the       Endorsed by Texas AFT, candidates Bill White
                November general elec-      for Governor and Linda Chavez-Thompson
tion will be crucial for electing pro-      for Lt. Governor, meet up on a campaign visit.
education candidates to help shape          Both have announced strong public educa-
state and national education policy         tion platforms. White served multiple terms
and funding.                                as a popular and succesful mayor of Houston.
     In the May school board elec-          Chavez-Thompson served as executive vice
tions, Texas AFT worked with its            president of the AFL-CIO (a national affili-
local unions to elect endorsed candi-       ate of Texas AFT) from 1995 to 2007 and has
dates for school districts in Dallas,       played a prominent role in Texas unions and
Austin, and Fort Bend. Texas AFT            public affairs for decades.
also helped locals secure victories for
endorsed board candidates at Lone         voters, you can change the balance                 www.texasaft.org. (Click on “Political
Star College, Austin Community Col-       of power in local elections, state-                Action.”)
lege and El Paso Community College.       wide races and in the Texas Legis-
     Now Texas AFT and its local          lature—the body that determines                    Keep plugged in!
affiliates are working to elect public    state education policy. (The vast                      Sign up for the Texas AFT Legis-
officials at the state and national       majority of Texas AFT’s supported                  lative Hotline and Inside Education
level who embrace our agenda of           candidates have won in the prima-                  Newsletters today to ensure you get
supporting higher pay, better work-       ries and general election.)                        the latest information on all political
ing environments and quality profes-           All you do is handwrite a short,              races. Additionally, by signing up for
sional development.                       persuasive message from an educa-                  these e-newsletters, you’ll be ready to
                                          tor’s viewpoint, hand-address the                  receive special e-mail alerts to take
Educator-To-Voter Project                 cards, and send them by mail to                    action on local, state and national
    How can you help? If you are a        fellow educators or other education-               issues.
Texas AFT member, join the Educa-         friendly voters across Texas.                          Our Facebook page also will keep
tor-To-Voter Project! Texas AFT tar-           We’ll provide everything you                  you in the loop with news, photos,
gets winnable races where members         need: instructions, suggested                      videos and more.
can persuade voters to elect the real     comments, lists of key voters and                      To sign up, visit www.texasaft.
pro-education candidates.                 the targeted candidates. Sign up                   org and look for the Hotline and
    By sending a message to those         and look for our endorsements at                   Facebook links.



                                                                                                                  5     July 2010
 22:1 class-size cap, other reforms under attack
     With the state budget strained by
lack of revenue from a 2006 tax swap
and the worst recession in decades,
some elected officials and the com-
missioner of education are calling for
“flexibility” in complying with key
education reforms that long have
benefited public education. And the
reform with the biggest target on it
for changes is the 22:1 class-size limit
for grades K-4.
     “A vast body of research confirms
that smaller class sizes have a posi-
tive effect on student achievement
and an enormous impact on helping
high-needs students,” said Linda
Bridges, Texas AFT president. “Sta-
tistics aside, common sense will tell      Want to ensure the budget axe doesn’t kill important reforms that bolster student achievement
you that if you pack an elementary         and teacher quality?
class with too many students, those        Visit www.22to1.org and you’ll find links to the campaign Facebook Page and Twitter account
that need individualized attention         along with action steps to protect these reforms, including petitions, links to comment to
will receive less help.”                   officials and updates.
     Bridges noted that less individu-
alized instruction puts many stu-          classrooms. Patrick’s 2009 bill was             preserving the “original intent” of
dents at risk of falling through the       amended and merely made it easier               each rule.
cracks, or districts end up spending       for districts to seek a waiver of the                Many policy matters of impor-
more money on specialists working          class-size limit. The commissioner              tance to Texas AFT members could
with those students outside the class-     of education, Robert Scott, also has            be affected by this review, including:
room to supplement their learning          launched a “rules review” to look at            accountability ratings and sanc-
and ensure they meet their marks on        22:1 and dozens of other rules that             tions; student testing; charter-school
standardized testing.                      offer guidance on state laws. The               oversight and expansion; educator
      “In the upcoming 2011 session,       rules for class-size waivers—which              appraisal; educator award programs
the goal should indeed be to ease the      currently require parental notifica-            (i.e., “performance pay”); duty-free
financial squeeze on school districts—     tion and school board approval if a             lunch periods; induction and men-
not by undercutting valuable reforms       district intends to exceed the cap—             toring; years of creditable service;
but by properly funding our schools,”      could be weakened in this review.               application of the state minimum
Bridges said. “That means not only              “Parental notification and school          salary schedule; and criminal-history
covering the cost of enrollment            board reveiw are important parts                background checks.
growth and inflation but making sig-       of that process, since they ensure                   Between now and July 23, in-
nificant improvements in funding to        the public is aware of the district’s           dividuals and groups with a stake
help students meet rising state and        use of the waiver and can weigh in              in any of the commissioner’s rules
federal expectations and standards of      on whether it’s necessary. The 22:1             may submit comments on why a rule
achievement.”                              limit is intended to prevent districts          should be kept intact, revised, or
     At a February interim hearing of      from abusing the system and cram-               deleted.
the Texas Senate Education Commit-         ming an unmanageable number of                       After July 23, TEA staff will con-
tee superintendents asked senators         kids into a class and limiting their            sider comments received and formu-
to relieve them of the alleged burden      ability to achieve,” Bridges said.              late recommendations for any rules
of complying with 22:1, and Sen. Dan             For other rules in the cross              changes the commissioner proposes
Patrick (R-Houston) announced that         hairs, TEA says the commissioner                to make in response. By October TEA
he will try again to water down the        aims to “eliminate unnecessary                  will announce changes the commis-
law. Last session Texas AFT opposed        interference with district ability to           sioner intends to make on his own
Patrick’s attempt to replace the           improve student performance” and                authority and a menu of further
classroom-specific limit in state law      “improve district ability to operate            changes he will ask the legislature
with an average limit across multiple      efficiently and effectively” while              to make.


6    July 2010
winning
  the
                      Respect
                       You Deserve
                          As a teacher, you’ve inspired and encouraged, set standards
                          and helped students reach goals others thought impossible.
Texas AFT                 Texas AFT is committed to bringing you the respect you deserve.


    RESPECT is:
•	 Raising salaries and improving benefits to attract and keep high quality teachers
    and funding our schools to give every student the opportunity to succeed
•	 Ending the destructive overemphasis on standardized tests and developing
    teacher-driven, effective professional development
•	 Strengthening teachers’ grading authority and seeing to it that districts
    comply with the state law prohibiting minimum grades
•	 Preserving class sizes that promote teaching and learning and upholding
    the 22:1 class-size limit for grades K-4
•	 Ensuring fair treatment for all employees and helping them become
    true partners in policy-making
•	 Creating a teacher-developed world-class curriculum and standards
•	 Taking action to keep schools safe and to support the Safe Schools Act

$8 million            State and national     33 local and regional   Lobbyists in both      Affiliated with the
professional          job-related legal      offices and 110 staff   Austin and             1.4 million-member
liability insurance   defense coverage       representatives         Washington, D.C.       American Federation
                                                                                            of Teachers (AFT)



                      Texas AFT
                      3000 South IH 35, Suite 120 Austin, TX 78704-6536
                      800/252-9350 www.texasaft.org                                                         What Does Respect
             07/10
                                                                                                            Look Like to You?

                                                                                                            Visit www.texasaft.org
                                                                                                            and tell us your story!

                                                                                                             We’ll post your comments or videos
                                                                                                             online to share with other school
                                                                                                             employees. (Or if you’d like, we’ll
                                                                                                             arrange a video interview with you.)



                                                                                                                                       7     July 2010
Winning the
Respect
You Deserve
Texas AFT is a lot more than a
collection of attorneys and benefits.
We are a movement—a movement for
winning the respect you deserve. Texas
AFT is teachers and school support           AFT Professional Educators Group             designed especially for support personnel
staff who care about students.               (PEG) also serves thousands of teach-        and those providing core services.
Activists committed to dignity and           ers through additional local offices. (See        • Educational Research and Dissem-
justice, to better schools and expand-       “An Emphasis on Local,” page 10.) Texas      ination (ER&D) courses: Texas AFT staff
ed opportunity. A movement that can          AFT is affiliated with the 1.4-million-      across the state sponsor ER&D courses
change a school, a district, a state.        member American Federation of Teach-         for teachers and paraprofessionals on
                                             ers and the AFL-CIO, with 10.5 million       classroom management topics and foun-
     Why join Texas AFT? Below are just      members.                                     dations for effective teaching. All profes-
a few of the services and programs we                                                     sional development is TEA-approved for
offer.                                       Teacher Mentoring and                        recertification.
                                             Professional Development                          • Safe Schools Act training to ensure
Who are Texas AFT members?                        Texas AFT provides staff for direct     teachers know how to use the law to pro-
     Texas AFT represents all non-           teacher mentoring and training to            tect themselves and improve the learning
administrative certified and classified      improve individual                                                   environment for all
public school employees in traditional       effectiveness and                                                    schoolchildren.
public schools and some charter schools.     performance in the                                                        • National
Texas AFT represents the interests of        classroom.                                                           Board Certification
teachers, counselors, librarians, diagnos-                                                                        financial support
ticians, custodians, cafeteria workers,      Training and                                                         for teachers and
bus drivers, nurses, teaching assistants,    Conferences                                                          collaboration with
clerical employees, and the other men             Texas AFT                                                       districts to offer
and women who work so hard to make           sponsors numer-                                                      support locally.
our schools succeed. Texas AFT also          ous workshops for
represents faculty and staff in universi-    educators to im-                                                   Publications
ties, colleges and community and junior      prove their skills,                                                    Texas AFT
colleges.                                    including:                                   produces a variety of print and electronic
                                                  • Leadership conferences to train       publications that inform and advise edu-
National and Local Affiliations              leaders for advocacy, organizing and         cators, parents and students, including:
     With more than 64,000 members,          involving members, and conflict resolu-          • Texas Teacher, an award-winning
Texas AFT is a statewide organization        tion.                                        magazine for members that offers news
encompassing 26 local unions in school            • Paraprofessional and School           on education and resources for profes-
districts across the state, and the Texas    Related Personnel (PSRP) workshops           sional development.

8    July 2010
                      Stronger together
     • Texas AFT Legislative Hotline,          tionally, along with our national affiliate,
daily e-mail reports from the Legislature      the union publishes important white
on breaking news and issues that need          papers and reports on issues such as
membership action. Between sessions,           teaching quality, building green schools,
the Hotline serves to update members on                          caring for students with
important changes in education law and                           special health-care
policy, particularly issues that affect your                     needs, charter schools,
pocketbook.                                                       and many other impor-
     • Inside Education,                                          tant topics.
weekly e-mail newslet-
ter with news, resources,                                         Legislation to Im-
benefits information and                                         prove the Teaching
fun links for teachers.                                          and Working Envi-
     • PSRP Report, a                                            ronment
publication in English                                              Texas AFT actively
and Spanish for Texas                                          works for legislation to
AFT paraprofessionals and                                     improve the teaching and
school related personnel.                                    working environment in
     • American Educator and American          Texas schools, including leadership
Teacher, AFT’s superb professional jour-       roles in:                                      to stop the TAKS mania of excessive
nal and its magazine.                               • Ensuring enhanced state aid to          benchmark testing, drill and practice,
                                               maintain and improve our schools.              and the continued ill-conceived efforts
Teaching Resources                                  • Reducing overreliance on stan-          to tie teacher pay and evaluations to
Texas AFT provides teachers with tips          dardized testing that detracts from real       test scores. A “Reclaim Your Classroom”
and materials for classroom manage-            teaching and learning.                         campaign then lobbied legislators and
ment and improved planning, including:              • Supporting and defending the            school districts for an end to the overem-
     • The New Teacher Survival Guide,         Safe Schools Act, which allows teachers        phasis on testing and actively worked to
a guide to help teachers make the most         to remove violent or disruptive students       offer testimony at several state hearings
of their first day of school and beyond.       from their classrooms.                         on accountability reform. In October 2008
     • A host of additional resources for           • Active support for increased            Texas AFT hosted a Forum on Testing
                                               funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health        with legislators and other stakeholders
                                               Insurance Program, and other measures          and explored new models for an account-
                                               that help families insure children who         ability system, including
                                               fall between the cracks of private and         detailed recommenda-
                                               public health insurance.                       tions from Texas AFT in
                                                    • Ensuring educator compensation,         the white paper, Beyond
                                               work environment and teaching tools            TAKS (and NCLB):
                                               are preserved and enhanced by mobi-            Putting Texas School
                                               lizing members as grass-roots legisla-         Accountability Back on
                                               tive advocates and keeping legislators         Track.
                                               informed in regular and special sessions.           In the 2009 legisla-
                                                    • Protecting the rights of school         tive session Texas AFT
all public school employees available          support personnel to ensure a strong           worked with lawmak-
online at the American Federation of           educational team. In addition, Texas           ers on accountability
Teachers Web site at www.aft.org. The          AFT’s Committee on Political Educa-            reforms, such as end- Texas AFT helped
site includes everything from how to           tion (COPE) offers members a voluntary         ing the high-stakes       write and pass the
organize and manage your classroom to          opportunity to contribute to a politi-                                                  Act
                                                                                              nature of third-grade Safe Schoolsbe itsand
                                                                                                                        continues to
detailed recommendations for early read-       cal action committee that helps elect          TAKS tests and            chief defender each
ing instruction.                               education-friendly candidates.                 replacing the TAKS        legislative session.
                                                                                              exit-level graduation
Ground-breaking Research                       Tackling the Testing Issue                     test with a series of
    Texas AFT is a leader in reading               Texas AFT is the leader in pushing         single-subject exit exams. On the Texas
research and has worked directly with          for much-needed reform for our testing         AFT agenda for 2011 is our continued
state and federal agencies on projects to      system. In 2006-2007, Texas AFT’s “Sev-
increase our understanding of effective        en Recommendations for Test Reform”
techniques for teaching reading. Addi-         formed the foundation for our agenda                                   continued next page

                                                                                                                     9      July 2010
                                  Our vision...
       Texas AFT believes in democracy in            organization of strong local unions. Texas
   education, and education for democracy.           AFT will assist locals to obtain all the rights
                                                     and benefits to which educational employees
       Texas AFT believes that an enlight-           should be entitled. We will work to raise the
   ened citizenry is essential to the success of     standards of all the professions employed
   democracy.                                        in the schools, and to secure for those em-
                                                     ployees the conditions essential to the best
        Texas AFT believes that America can          professional service.
   only educate its students through a strong
   system of public schools that are funded by             Texas AFT will work to initiate, support,
   the public and run by the citizens through rep-   and enforce state legislation to benefit all the
   resentatives who are elected democratically.      children and school employees of the State
   We believe that those schools should offer        of Texas, through a dynamic organization
   every student an equal opportunity to learn to    that builds upon the diversity of its members
   the best of his or her ability.                   through a democratic governance structure.

         Texas AFT believes that our students              To accomplish the task of organizing
   deserve a world-class education. Texas AFT        school employees in Texas, Texas AFT will
   stands for quality education for students, and    position itself so that school employees, state
   dignity for those who provide it.                 officials and the public at large will see Texas
                                                     AFT as the best and most effective advocate
       Texas AFT believes that the vision            of the public schools, public school students
   described above can best be achieved by the       and public school employees.                       More than a thousand Texas AFT members gath-
                                                                                                        ered at the state capitol in March for Lobby Day
                                                                                                        2009 to advocate improving public education.

continued from previous page                         An Emphasis on “Local”                                  2) The organizing committee pre-
                                                          Texas AFT is the only Texas teacher           pares to “charter,” which means to af-
                                                     organization with a significant num-               filiate as a full local union in Texas AFT
effort to block use of unproven “value
                                                     ber of local affiliates and Professional           and AFT. The organizing committee, with
added” statistical models for individual
                                                     Educators Group (PEG) offices orga-                assistance from Texas AFT, develops a
teacher evaluation, end punitive sanc-
                                                     nized to provide direct representation             governing structure, identifies and trains
tions based on standardized test scores
                                                     for educators and school employees. Yes,           leadership, and continues to recruit new
and promote supportive interventions
                                                     we’re a union of public employees, which           members.
instead.
                                                     contrary to ancient myth is perfectly
                                                     legal in Texas!                                          3) The organization votes to “char-
Partnerships                                                                                            ter.” Members vote on whether to form
                                                          Our local union affiliates are on
     Texas AFT has actively worked with                                                                 a full affiliate. The American Federation
                                                     the front lines to advocate fair pay and
state and local governments on policy                                                                   of Teachers at the national level then
                                                     quality work environments and provide
initiatives, many of which originated                                                                   grants the local a charter.
                                                     statewide coverage for professional
with Texas AFT—such as the Basics
                                                     development, mentoring and training.                    4) Locals seek consultation agree-
First! reading initiatives, curbing social
                                                     Whether it’s ensuring that districts               ments. Many local affiliates then work
promotion, and establishing teachers’
                                                     aren’t overloading teachers with pa-               toward achieving elected representation,
authority to remove violent and disrup-
                                                     perwork, organizing a powerful voice               or consultation status, a designation
tive students.
                                                     for support personnel pay, or tackling             (usually by election among all affected
     Work with a coalition of groups ex-
                                                     the myriad other issues that employees             school employees) as the organization
ploring school finance and state revenue
                                                     face, locals are there to help. How do we          that formally negotiates with a district
options will play a pivotal role in ensur-
                                                     accomplish this vision? Step by step:              on employee wages, benefits and working
ing adequate funding for education in
2011. Texas AFT also is working with                     1) Public school employees organize.           conditions.
its national affiliate (AFT) to replace the          In areas without local affiliates, Texas               5) The union achieves collective
faulty No Child Left Behind Act and to               AFT staff help recruit enough members              bargaining. Texas AFT works to change
repeal injurious Social Security offsets             (usually several hundred) to form an               state law to allow collective bargaining
for Texas public school employees by                 “organizing committee” dedicated to                contracts for school employees.
working for passage of the Social Secu-              growing into an autonomous local union.
rity Fairness Act.                                                                                           Join us today at www.texasaft.org or
                                                                                                        call 800-222-3827.

10 July 2010
 Discover the
 rewards of
 membership
 Check your benefits booklet or the
 Web (www.texasaft.org and
 www.aftplus.org) to make the most
 of your member benefits.



Texas AFT members enjoy a host                                    • Legal Assistance: In addition to a legal defense fund
                                                              for workplace issues, AFT has a list of attorneys who work
of benefits, including...                                     with members on issues not related to their work sites, such
                                                              as wills, rental contracts and document preparation.
    • Liability Coverage: Members are protected by
up to $8 million in occupational liability insurance, plus        • Terrific Travel Savings: Great AFT+ programs save
a legal defense fund for members needing legal help for       you cash on family vacations:
charges related to their work.                                   • World Travel: Members and traveling partners save
    • Personal Life Insurance: $10,000 term life              $200 off the price of any tour with our partner travel agency.
coverage for new members at no cost for the first year             • Hotel Savings: Members can choose from nine family-
of membership. Low prices continue after the first year.      priced hotel/motels—or indulge in a selection of Caribbean
    • Medical Savings: The Limited Medical Plan               resort locations. AFT+ also has many vacation rental proper-
reimburses a variety of medical costs for you, your           ties around the world including apartments, cottages, and
partner and children. Family discount plans for vision,       villas.
dental and prescription costs also are offered. Home              • Theme Parks: Vacation packages at many parks
caregivers can find supplies for their needs—everything       across the country include admission tickets, hotels and
from diapers to wheelchairs—plus diabetic and sleep           meals, at one low price. Tickets to museums, aquariums and
apnea equipment.                                              other attractions are sold online at deep discounts.
    • Veterinary Savings: This provider-choice plan               • Car Rentals: AFT+ offers discounts on four worldwide
offers 25 percent off all yearly vet care costs and sup-      rental services, and Texas AFT has a statewide connection
plies for your pet.                                           with another worldwide provider.
    • Pet Insurance: Like people insurance, these                 • Auto Club: Emergency assistance and travel services
policies provide financial help in cases of serious illness   at half the cost of other auto club programs.
or injury, and for older pets with extra needs.
                                                                  • Home and Auto Insurance: Texas AFT members
    • Mortgage Assistance: Members receive person-            now get national discounts for auto, home and property in-
al assistance with purchasing, selling and refinancing        surance, with lower costs for multiple policies.
homes.
— Save My Home: Help for members facing possible                  Visit www.texasaft.org and click “Member Ben-
foreclosure.                                                  efits” to see all our state and national programs. You
— Special savings for first-time home buyers.                 will need your AFT Member ID Number to access the na-
— NEW: Mortgage payments are made for members                 tional site, www.aft.org/members. Call Barbara Lightheart at
with AFT mortgages who lose income due to layoff or           800-222-3827 ext. 3215, or e-mail belightheart@texasaft.org
disability.                                                   for more information.




                                                                                                         11 July 2010
         2011 Legislative Session ... What’s at Stake
    Dear Members and Public School Employees
    A high-stakes debate about the future of public education is under way in Texas and the
nation. The debate comes in the midst of a budget crisis caused by recession and chronic,
structural underfunding of our schools.
    Advocates of “creative destruction” see the fiscal crisis as an opportunity to tear down our
public school system. To achieve “efficiency,” they want to cut school funding and erode state
quality safeguards like class-size limits. Based on students’ test scores, they want to blame
and fire “bad teachers” and shut down public schools. They want to skim highly motivated
students into charter or voucher schools—leaving traditional neighborhood campuses with
fewer resources and the most disadvantaged pupils.
    Texas AFT rejects this destructive agenda. School districts cannot cut, fire, and test their
way to higher performance. Our schools need more revenue, not less, to lift up disadvantaged                 It’s not to early to start pre-
students. We need research-based, proven programs, not yet another wave of education fads.                   paring for the 2011 Texas
                                                                                                             Legislative Session. Start with a
    Classes need to be smaller to allow more individual attention to each child’s needs. We                  quick look at the defining issues
need major new investments in early-childhood education. We need higher standards for the                    and the Texas AFT Legislative
                                                                                                             Agenda.
teaching profession and real support for beginning and struggling teachers to improve their
practice. We need positive, not punitive assessments and accountability, designed to solve                   You can download a complete
problems rather than place blame. We need to re-envision the neighborhood public school as                   copy at www.texasaft.org (Click
the center of a web of community support for our students and their families—recognizing                     on “Publications.”)
that teachers and school support staff can do much to help our students succeed but cannot
do it alone.
    Where do you stand in this great debate over the future of public education? I urge you to
stand with the 64,000 members of Texas AFT!



Linda Bridges
President, Texas AFT



    History rewrite protested
      Texas AFT members played a vigorous part in ef-
  forts to delay final action by the State Board of Educa-
  tion on its controversial rewrite of Texas social-studies
  standards. Ray McMurrey, president of the Corpus
  Christi American Federation of Teachers, led a delega-
  tion of AFT members from his area and spoke against
  the proposed curriculum guidelines at a May 20 rally         Corpus Christi AFT President Ray McMurrey speaks to reporters at a rally
                                                               against new Social Studies curriculum standards.
  outside the hearing room and in the hearing itself.
  On May 21 the ultra-conservative bloc of SBOE board           in other ways—for example, by editing Thomas Jefferson
  members denied the request for a delay and passed the         out of world history curriculum guidelines and dictating
  controversial standards on a 9-5 vote.                        a more positive accounting of censured U.S. Sen. Jo-
      McMurrey, who has taught social studies for 18            seph McCarthy’s reckless witch hunt that destroyed the
  years, said the proposed standards largely ignore the         reputations of many blameless Americans. The Board’s
  work of teachers on standard-writing panels and have          extremist faction wanted to lock in these decisions before
  earned the opposition of the vast majority of educators.      a more moderate group can take office after the Novem-
  McMurrey said the State Board has produced stan-              ber elections. But both the incoming Board members and
  dards that fail to reflect the diversity of Texas history,    2011 legislators are likely to revisit these issues and try
  and the Board also has distorted the historical record        to repair the damage.




12 July 2010
  Texas AFT and
  ‘Texas Forward’
  look at fixes for
  grim budget,
  education cuts


T         he powers that be at the
          state capitol are in de-
          nial about the nature of the
budget crisis they will face when the
legislature convenes in January 2011.
Texas is looking at a major budget
shortfall next year, to be sure, but it’s
not because of any spending binge,
especially not for public education.                          By permission of Bruce Beattie and Creators Syndicate, Inc
    Yet Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David
Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe
Straus already have ordered state           involved in education, health, and                created a continuing budget hole
agencies, including the Texas Educa-        human services to fight against                   of at least $9 billion a biennium.
tion Agency, to begin making budget         mindless budget-cutting and for a                 Structural changes in Texas’ revenue
cuts, which they describe as “just          balanced approach to balancing the                system will be required to eliminate
the beginning.” TEA has responded           state budget–an approach that ad-                 this structural deficit.
by chopping extra after-school help         dresses the underlying causes of the                   “The immediate deficit facing the
for at-risk students, state funds for       chronic underfunding of our public                2011 legislative session is caused by
mentoring of beginning teachers, and        schools and other core public ser-                the global economic recession, which
grants for science labs that students       vices.                                            has temporarily reduced state rev-
need to meet higher graduation                  Our new budget coalition, dubbed              enue. This short-term deficit can be
standards demanding four years of           Texas Forward, has come up with                   closed with one-time measures.
science. Local school districts also                                                               “The Texas Forward coalition
have begun cutting educational per-           Texas cannot afford to continue                 therefore adopts the following agen-
sonnel and services that our students         this policy of disinvestment in our             da for the 2011 legislative session:
urgently need.                                public schools or other vital public                 “Vital public services in Texas are
    Texas cannot afford to continue           services like health care.                      not funded to meet today’s needs or
this policy of disinvestment in our                                                           to prepare Texas for future demands.
public schools or other vital public        the following joint statement on the              Therefore, before reducing any state
services like health care. It makes no      legislative agenda that we and our                services in fiscal year 2011 or in the
sense educationally, and it portends        allies will fight for, beginning with             2012-2013 state budget, the legisla-
lasting damage to our state’s econom-       state budget hearings this fall that              ture must:
ic well-being. The state demographer        will set the stage for the 2011 legisla-               “1) Use all of the Rainy Day
recently forecast a sharp decline in        tive session:                                     Fund, estimated to have $9.2 billion
the economic fortunes of Texans over             “Texas faces both a short-term               available for spending in the 2012-13
the next 30 years, costing the average      and a long-term budget deficit. These             budget. The constitutional purpose
household $6,500 a year in lost in-         deficits have different causes and                of the fund is to maintain vital state
come, if we don’t invest sufficiently in    therefore have different solutions.               services during economic downturns;
developing the skills and knowledge              “The longer-term deficit is a re-            it is not a solution to a long-term
of the nearly five million students in      sult of the underfunded property-tax              structural deficit.
our public schools.                         cuts passed in 2006 and the overall                    “2) Maximize use of all available
    Looking ahead to a tough bud-           structure of Texas’ revenue system.               federal funding, including any addi-
get session next January, Texas AFT         The lack of sufficient new revenue to
has joined forces with other groups         replace forgone property taxes has                                             continued next page




                                                                                                                       13 July 2010
continued from previous page

tional stimulus aid or any new matching funds                                          rts, ps
                                                                                   Hea nk Sli
made available for health-care reform.                                        Pink ot Pi
                                                                                 N
    “3) Create new sources of revenue that are
equitable and can grow along with the growth
in need for public services, including elimina-         Leadership                                                                              stat e.
                                                                                                                                          deva lanc
                                                                                                                                                      ing
                                                                                                                                                           cuts
                                                                                                                                                                .


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preparation for the 2013 session.”
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    Texas AFT has never been shy about say-             More than a 100 Texas AFT
ing specifically how we propose to pay for the          members gathered in Austin in
public education our students deserve, and this         June for a Summer Leadership
legislative cycle is no exception. For specific ex-     Conference that trains participants
                                                        in advocacy and organizing.
amples of new, equitable revenue sources that
Texas AFT proposes, see the “Revenue for Our            Members developed campaigns to
Schools” section of our Legislative Agenda 2011         engage school employees on a va-
at www.texasaft.org. You’ll also find a letter          riety of issues. At top, participants
there on revenue and budget recommendations             enlists members to sign a petition
                                                        on AFT’s “Pink Hearts Not Pink
to send via e-mail to your state legislators. We        Slips” campaign to avert school
urge you also to keep an eye on our daily Leg-          employee layoffs. From left at
islative Hotline for updates and action alerts          bottom, Judith Guerrero, Barbara
relating to our Texas Forward coalition and             Lightheart and Debbie Perrotta role                                                                        You can learn more about the Pink
our ongoing fight in Congress for federal aid to        play a rally with outlandish garb                                                                          Hearts Not Pink Slips campaign at
                                                        to fire up their crowd.                                                                                    www.aft.org.
ease the squeeze on state and local budgets.



Court backs Texas AFT in truth-in-grading law
     Texas AFT won a signal victory          the legislature’s intent was clear—                                                                                  the supposed benefits of minimum-
for truth in grading on June 28 when         all forms of local minimum-grade                                                                                     grade policies against the damage
a state district judge in Austin re-         policies were outlawed.                                                                                              caused by undermining teachers’ au-
jected an attempt by 11 Texas school              Texas AFT member Mary Rob-                                                                                      thority to assess students’ academic
districts to nullify the 2009 state          erts of Humble ISD (one of the 11                                                                                    progress or lack of it, and lawmakers
law outlawing local minimum-grade            plaintiff districts) testified that her                                                                              had concluded that the policies did
policies. Under these local policies,        district’s local policy compels her to                                                                               more harm than good. Judge Gisela
teachers have been required to give          give inaccurate, unearned grades                                                                                     Triana-Doyal said it was not her role
students grades no lower than some           to students who earn less than a 50                                                                                  to decide the wisdom of local policy or
district-mandated minimum even if            average for an entire grading period.                                                                                state law but rather to interpret the
the students have refused to do any          This practice is wrong in principle,                                                                                 law passed by the legislature. The law
assignments or have failed to attend         Roberts said, because it devalues                                                                                    is not ambiguous, the judge ruled, and
class.                                       real effort and achievement. There                                                                                   thus applies to all types of grades,
     The districts sued the Texas Edu-       are much better ways to help stu-                                                                                    including cumulative grades for grad-
cation Agency over a letter the agency       dents get back on track academically                                                                                 ing periods.
sent out in October stating that the         without awarding them academic                                                                                            The plaintiff districts can appeal
legislature intended to prohibit such        credit they have not earned, she tes-                                                                                her ruling to a higher court, Judge
policies and that districts should           tified. Roberts filed a grievance over                                                                               Triana-Doyal noted, or they can try
comply. The districts, led by Fort Bend      this violation of state law, which was                                                                               to go back to persuade the legislature
ISD, insisted that the law did not ap-       denied by her district. She appealed                                                                                 to change the law. But the judicial
ply to cumulative grades for grading         the matter to the commissioner of                                                                                    finding that the law is unambiguous
periods, because it did not expressly        education, a ruling is required by                                                                                   certainly ought to give them pause.
refer to cumulative grades. Texas AFT        October.                                                                                                             It’s simply what Texas AFT has been
was the only teacher organization to              Texas AFT general counsel Mar-                                                                                  trying to tell them since the law
intervene in this legal fight in defense     tha Owen summed up the case by                                                                                       passed last year. And now a state
of the new state law, contending that        saying the legislature had weighed                                                                                   district judge has backed us up.



14 July 2010
O’Sullivan retires from secretary-treasurer post
Education Austin leader Louis Malfaro appointed as new officer
                                                             John O’Sullivan will retire from Texas AFT in August after
                                                         serving 27 years as secretary-treasurer for the union. (For more
                                                         on John’s experiences and views over the past 41 years serving
                                                         as an educator and union leader, see page 4.)
                                                             In recent years, O’Sullivan was the union’s top advocate for
                                                         the Social Security Fairness Act, and his expertise on retirement
                                                         issues helped hundreds of members sort through the complicated
                                                         maze of Texas Teacher Retirement System and Social Security
                                                         rules. O’Sullivan also played a prominent role in combating
                                                         private school vouchers and was instrumental in the work of the
                                                         Texas Business and Education Coalition.
                                                             The Texas AFT Executive Council appointed Louis Malfaro,
                                                         president of Education Austin, as O’Sullivan’s replacement until
                                                         the next officer election at the Texas AFT convention in June of
                                                         2011.
                                                             Malfaro has been the president or co-president of Education
                                                         Austin since 1999 and was president of the union’s predecessor,
                                                         the Austin Federation of Teachers
                                                         and Allied Education Workers, from
                                                         1992 to 1999. Education Austin,
At top, John O’Sullivan                                  the first merged AFT/NEA affiliate
receives a clock—en-                                     in Texas, has nearly 4,000 members.
graved with signatures                                       Malfaro served as president of
from Texas AFT staff—                                    the Austin Central Labor Council
honoring his service,
while his wife Sonja,
                                                         from 2003 to 2008 and also served
also an educator and                                     as a vice president of the Texas
union professional,                                      AFL-CIO. He is currently a mem-
looks on. At right,                                                                                      Louis Malfaro
                                                         ber of the American Federation of
Texas AFT President                                      Teacher PreK-12 Teacher Program and Policy Council and is also
Linda Bridges presents
O’Sullivan with a quilt
                                                         an AFT vice president.
crafted from the T-shirts                                    Malfaro worked as a bilingual elementary school teacher in
of local unions across                                   Austin from 1987 to 1992 after graduating from the University
the state.                                               of Texas. He also attended the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Mal-
                                                         faro is married to Lisa, a Pre-K bilingual teacher and counselor,
                                                         and has two sons, Ben and Liam, who attend public schools.


AFT Lone Star College battles to ensure representation at grievance hearings
     AFT Lone Star College—Texas           mination hearing. In December, the        hearings is a vital protection for
AFT’s affiliate at Lone Star College,      college had adopted a new grievance       employees that’s already included in
a suburban Houston community               procedure including the prohibition.      state law and has been backed by the
college—has filed suit against the             The college agreed to allow legal     courts in decisions for public institu-
administration for refusing to allow       representation for the member in          tions and school districts,” said Linda
legal or union representation at ter-      question after Texas AFT filed a          Bridges, Texas AFT president.
mination and grievance hearings.           temporary restraining order, but the          “Texas AFT will continue to
     The union—represented by Texas        case is still pending for resolution on   ensure that school districts and com-
AFT legal counsel—filed suit after the     the college’s grievance policies.         munity college districts abide by this
college proposed termination for one           “Having a union representa-           common-sense practice and refrain
of its members and the member was          tive or legal assistance for many         from policies that are counter to state
denied access to legal counsel at a ter-   grievance and employment-related          law,” Bridges said.



                                                                                                        15 July 2010
Texas AFT                     NON-PROFIT ORG.
3000 South IH-35, Suite 175    U.S. POSTAGE
                                   PAID
Austin, Texas 78704           AUSTIN, TEXAS
                              PERMIT NO.2917




16 July 2010

								
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