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March 1, 2021

AFT and Women’s Rights

On this first day of Women’s History month, we don’t have to look far for role models. By the late 1800s, a majority of teachers were women, but in general they were compensated at a third of the rate of male counterparts, had few alternative professional prospects, and were only permitted to teach prior to marriage. 

As scholars Michael Sedlak and Steven Schlossman observed in Who Will Teach?: “Society’s view of teachers is largely a result of how society views all women.” 

teacher unions striking in chicago in the early 20th century

In response to these conditions, women founded the first teachers’ unions. It was women who formed the first teacher unions and demanded that educators be compensated appropriately. Margaret Haley, who helped organize the Chicago Teachers Federation in 1897, is often cited among the “founding mothers” of the AFT (which was officially formed in 1916 when locals from Chicago and other cities came together to launch the national union). Margaret Haley was named the union’s first national organizer.

As fights for equitable compensation, safety, and student resources continue in school districts across the country, Women’s History Month is an opportunity to reflect upon women’s contributions to early efforts that now benefit today’s educators. But it is also an opportunity to examine the continuing devaluation of all roles traditionally held by women, especially those in the so-called caring professions.

See for free lesson plans at AFT’s Share My Lesson website.

Governor Proclaims Public Schools Week

Governor Whitmer issued a proclamation today designating this week as Public Schools Week. In the proclamation the Governor described public education as “the foundation of an educated and informed citizenry.”  She states that  “stable, equitable, predictable and adequate funding …is necessary to ensure students have up-to-date resources staffed with well-prepared and supported educators.” The proclamation highlights  the work of educators during the pandemic and concludes by stating “we should recognize and show our gratitude for our state’s educators who shape the students of today into the leaders of tomorrow and reaffirm our commitment to supporting high-quality education that meets the needs of all students.”  

Thank you Governor.

Fighting For What Our Students Deserve

Last week we opposed a bill proposed by Michigan Senate Republicans that releases less than half of the funds sent from the Federal government to fund our kids getting back to school. This would hold back upwards of $1 billion from reaching school districts. It also proposes a voucher-like program for summer learning that would allow public money to be used for private schools or education companies. The proposal overall would leave behind $4 billion in funding for education and other important services  our state needs to recover. We will continue to advocate for our  students to receive the full funding they deserve to recover  from this pandemic. 

Congressman Levin Wears AFT Michigan Mask When Voting for the Equality Act and Supporting $15 Wage

Our great friend Congressman Andy Levin proudly wore an AFT Michigan mask while voting for the Equality Act, which provides  anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life,  and when speaking up for a $15  minimium wage.  He also thanked the teachers who prepared him to fight for social justice.  Thank you Congressman.

Crawford Elected to MDP State Central

Recia Crawford, staff organizing at the Union of Teaching Faculty at CMU and President of the Central Michigan AFL-CIO Labor Council, was elected to the Michigan Democratic Party’s State Central Committee from the 4th Congressional District at the party’s February 20 Convention.  Apologies to Recia for inadvertently omitting her from our list of other AFT Michigan leaders elected to State Central appearing in last week’s email.  

Upcoming Professional Development 

AFT Michigan – Virtual Workshop

May I Have This Dance Trauma PreK-14

March 6, 2021, 8:30 a.m. -4:00 p.m.

This workshop will provide participants with a trove of ideas, strategies, and information about trauma, as well as enhancing one’s leverage to make positive transformational changes in and outside the classroom to support students’ achievement.

Click here to register. 

AFT Professional Learning: Share My Lesson Virtual Conference

Registration is now open for AFT Share My Lesson’s ninth annual Virtual Conference on March 23-25!

This three-day virtual conference features more than 40 free, for-credit webinars on issues that are top of mind for supporting students, including learning recovery, social and emotional recovery, civic engagement, cross-curricular instructional strategies and trauma sensitive practices. Last year, we had more than 70,000 registrations.  So don’t delay! Get these sessions on your calendar now:  

In solidarity,

David Hecker, President

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