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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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com 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 . ll conference s wi cing e ba ator tion of unproductive tax breaks. e fa in th educ a ar s 00 eric hang 300,0 Am ture y as ut man ho n’s fu as roug re that s th child ated tion. ol ur estim uc it is instr “In addition, in 2011 the legislature should Sc ho O year, try. ed al ool e coun ualiz a re is sch ss th vid indi safety. schoo l. ake pink of th acro less l er ey m ar a in hones advocacy, end slips and schoo summ y th we s the sizes and d y da r Day, ucator By ive pink es. class pline sses an ever he ed rece uenc es in disci and l Teac their cla rk, nseq creas oom usic, AP wo tiona need examine the structural changes needed to eir 4, Na ents em e co in ssr m to th ay m th Th Drastic n of cla art, Stud s fro ion of ul in g on M ions. les islat • osio ion and so tin ribut no s • Er minat t. art n. Star cont and ral leg service • Eli hear eir he ildre rtant es. dem fede vital pinks put th ould t for ts in of ch impo ent lin e sh or cu e. ra or lives their oym . W supp and deserv Wea educat in the ge empl reet ur offs nts all St ice yo d lay address the long-term structural deficit, in r led de Ou rence know t in un organizing skills m W re. Vo s avoi our stu m diffe t to ac m, no fro tu strict s.co ay fu di eli ne hear classroo lk aw ren’s l n lif lip ge. ’t wa child schooucatio the essa t didn g our he lp ed in kS . elp a m men savin e n to ve th otP Sendgovern mes to 3 bi preser llio sN can h eart r $2 u it co ovide need to kH ow yo Ou preparation for the 2013 session.” en wh will pr We that ildre n. .Pin ut h for ch w ww nd o Visit to fi 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
"Winning the Respect You Deserve"