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August 17, 2020

Michigan House Votes to Send Return to Learn Package to Governor’s Desk with Bipartisan Approval

At about 12:30pm Monday, August 17, the Michigan House passed HB 5311, HB 5312, and 5313 – bills that incorporate a bipartisan agreement regarding school reopening for the 2020-2021 school year.  The House voted to accept the changes made by the Michigan Senate on Saturday. The main function of the bills is to waive the days and hours requirements for all schools for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year, but require districts to develop plans to provide the equivalent education for all students in a mode (or modes) of instruction of their choosing. Click here to read a full summary of the legislation. 

Each bill received over 70 votes out of 109, and the supporters and opponents included members of both parties. This was different than the Senate vote on these bills that was much more partisan with Republicans voting yes and most Democrats voting no. 

We expect Governor Whitmer to sign the bills within the week.

AFT Michigan, along with the MEA, released a statement early Saturday which asked for adoption of this package as a fine compromise, which provides the necessary flexibility and financial stability for districts. No legislation is ever perfect, and this package is no exception. However, it does meet our needs for certainty for school funding and decision making purposes.  

Wayne State Labor School: Online and 90% off This Year

Wayne State Labor School is being offered fully online for the 2020-2021 year. Scholarships are available for  90% off the tuition costs. Scholarship recipients will pay $20 per course instead of $200. For more information go to:

To register for the Labor School call the WSU Labor Studies Center office at 313-577-2191 or register online at

AFT Back-to-School Webinars

You can find and share resources, and see all of the webinars being offered, in the new Back to School 2020 community on Share My Lesson.

Embracing Learner Variability for In-Person and Distance Learning: Helping All Learners Thrive

Aug. 20, at 1 p.m. EDT | REGISTER

During this session, participants will explore research-based strategies and universal design for learning principles that they can embed in their instruction. We will explore the Learner Variability Navigator’s research-based strategies that teachers can use in the classroom and also adapt for online learning and build teacher “workspaces” using those strategies and other material. Participants will walk away with free resources and concrete ways to address learner variability in their classrooms this fall.

Teaching News & Media Literacy in an Election Year

Aug. 20, at 2 p.m. EDT | REGISTER

Join this webinar to learn about where to find high-quality resources to teach news and media literacy in your classroom; tips on facilitating discussions and lessons about the news and current events; and easy, grab-and-go activities aimed at students’ news and media literacy in an election year.

Manage Your Message: Creating Clear Expectations for Students and Families

Aug. 20, at 3 p.m. EDT | REGISTER

Google Classroom. YouTube. i-Ready. Google Meet. Email. Parent Portal. These are just some of the platforms and programs that are being used to support our students. As well-intentioned as we are, the amount of information being shared is overwhelming. Students and parents are experiencing fatigue and frustration from distance learning. What can we do about it? This webinar will show educators an effective strategy for communicating that will allow students to be more successful, families to feel better informed, and classes to run more smoothly.

Ready to Grow: Sesame Street in Communities Resources for School Readiness

August 20, 4 p.m. EDT | REGISTER

Over the course of an hour, walk with Sesame through a variety of resources you can use to prepare yourself, families and children for a great start to the school year. We’ll explore free videos, printable resources, interactive games, workshops, and digital storybooks to meet a wide array of needs with education and entertainment!

Creating an Affirmative Space for All

Aug. 20, at 5 p.m. EDT | REGISTER

In this session, we will engage in exercises, prompts and activities to demonstrate how we as anti-racist educators can create spaces where all students—and particularly students of color—can be affirmed and centered. We will share strategies for using aspects of culture (music, literature, movies, etc.) to address our students’ need to be seen, to have their voices heard and their experiences acknowledged. We will display how affirmation can and should be in honor of all of us, not just limited to some. Participants will come away with ideas and concrete strategies for creating a more equitable and engaging classroom environment.

Register for all new Back-to-School webinars

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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