What day is it?
The AFT convention is one meeting after another in a vast convention center… meeting slides into meeting.
The delegates arrived on Thursday, the 3,000 plus delegates from around the country. From New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Miami, Detroit, Cleveland, the large city delegations as well as delegates from Montana, Utah, North Dakota and Montana and Virgin Islands and many other smaller local; public school teachers, college teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses and the newest chapter, professional workers at the United Nations, all prepared to listen to a wide range of speakers and participate in vigorous debate.
The locals around the nation submit resolutions, this year 91 resolutions were submitted and they were distributed to 13 committees. All delegates choose which committee they want to attend – the committees range from 75 delegates to as many as 800 delegates. The Executive Council, the three officers and the 43 Vice Presidents also submit resolutions.
At one time the AFT had a number of political caucuses; the last few years the AFT has had a single caucus, the Progressive Caucus that has a very broad tent. The Progressive Caucus, that met Thursday evening supported nine resolutions submitted by the Executive Council and opposed four resolutions. The other 70 plus resolutions have no caucus support, or caucus opposition.
As you are probably aware the NEA Convention, by a very close vote, passed a resolution asking for Arne Duncan to resign. At the Progressive Caucus meeting AFT President Weingarten asked the caucus to discuss the issue: putting a resolution on the floor, according to Robert’s Rules, would require a 2/3 vote – the issue was debated, without any consensus, The Chicago Teachers Union strongly supported the concept, the UFT appeared to be divided, other locals thought it was a meaningless gesture.
Friday morning, jet lag or not, the UFT delegation convened a 7 am meeting, a heads up from the union leadership – a few words from new vice presidential candidates, and off to the first session.
* Broadway star Sally Wilfert sings about teachers:
* Reverend William Barber, the President of the North Carolina NAACP preached to us … he was spectacular … an old fashioned revival … a modern day Martin Luther King … in these bleak days of attacks on unions, teachers and public education Reverend Barber gave us hope … click on the link … (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw-xp39ikC0&index=3&list=PL-T5PpTCIN8C0OHiI0akloVYQWw1YjXLt)
Governor Jerry Brown attacks mindless testing and defends tenure, refreshing after what we’ve seen from our NYS governor: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydyVfFCnhS0&list=PL-T5PpTCIN8C0OHiI0akloVYQWw1YjXLt&index=3)
AFT President Randi Weingarten’s State of the Union address – I’ve heard Randi speak innumerable times – this is her best speech, best by far, she lays out the mantra of the opposition and the principles of the AFT – extremely well done: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ARXHvynK_0&list=PL-T5PpTCIN8C0OHiI0akloVYQWw1YjXLt&index=2)
No lunch today, straight in the afternoon sessions.
In the early afternoon the various divisions of the union meet to discuss challenges and engage with experts. I attended the K-12 session and listened to Passi Sahlberg – describing the Finnish education system and reviewing OCED data on the performance of countries on the PISA exams and trying to explore the reasons for the variation among nations. Pedro Noguera, an NYU professor, and one of the few, who spares no one, gave a bleak picture of how unions are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of former allies and muses on how to reverse the process.
On to the committee meetings: each of the thirteen committees meets to discuss the resolutions assigned to the committees and recommend “concurrence” or “non-concurrence,” … a long full day.
The “hottest” topic that will be debated on the floor – a lengthy comprehensive resolution submitted by the Executive Council on accountability and the Common Core – challenging the over reliance on testing, criticism of flawed Value-Added Measurement, calling for a moratorium on the impact of Common Core testing, increased professional development and a resolution submitted by the Chicago Teachers Union simply opposing the Common Core entirely.
My body is still on NY time – 1:30 am – two and a half more days…
Send along questions and comments and watch the live streaming: beginning 9:30 on the West Coast and 12:30 pm in NYC: http://www.aft.org/convention/live.cfm