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Whether you work in a classroom or not, I hope you’re finding ways to celebrate Black History Month. Our union aligned ourselves with the Black freedom movement from our early days. The AFT was one of the earliest unions to condemn segregation and amended its constitution in 1953 to ban racial segregation by locals, even though that led to the loss of thousands of members across the south.  AFT was the only education organization to file an amicus brief in Brown v. Board and during the 1960s, the AFT ran more than 20 “Freedom Schools” in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi; staffed by AFT volunteers, the schools supplemented the inadequate education offered to Black students. And the very first president of what was then the Michigan Federation of Teachers was Walter Bergman, who was also a “freedom rider” and lifelong fighter for human rights. This month, and every month, let’s all try to live up to and extend that legacy.

(Walter Bergman is standing, 2nd from right)

Member Spotlight – Ijeoma Nnodim Opara and Latonya Riddle-Jones, WSU AAUP-AFT

Ijeoma Nnodim Opara, MD, FAAP, and Latonya Riddle-Jones, MD, MPH, AAUP-AFT members in Wayne State Pediatrics, were nominated in recognition for their work “calling upon the medical and scientific communities to confront and end a legacy of scientific racism in research, medical education, clinical practice and health policies by “de-pathologizing and humanizing” American Black bodies”.  Learn more about their work on ending the legacy of scientific racism here and read their statement below:

“Health Equity is a state where everyone regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, ability or any identity category is able to achieve their best health. To eliminate health disparities and achieve equity, we must eliminate racist assumptions embedded within current medical practices that incorrectly apply biological significance to the socially invented category called race. This is why it was imperative that this paper be written as a call to action for all physicians, healthcare workers, scientists, and each actor and stakeholder in the academic and scientific ecosystem to critically engage with scholarship and clinical practice through the lens of antiracism. We must examine the assumptions and justifications that underpin the theories, algorithms, guidelines, and protocols in our respective fields for scientific racism, and when identified, we must take action to eliminate it.” 

Help us highlight the amazing work members from across our constituencies do every day for their colleagues, students, communities, and our union. To make sure more people hear their stories, follow the link to our website and fill out the form to nominate an AFT Michigan member to be recognized for what they do at work, in the community, or our union!

Congratulations Taylor Federation of Credit Union Employees

Congratulations to our AFT Michigan union sisters in the Federation of Credit Union Employees (Local #4437) on their contract ratification! The FCUE wrapped up a tough round of negotiations with their employer, the Total Community Credit Union, in Taylor, and were able to secure raises and benefits protections for their union members. Great job to President Janine Wilson and the whole bargaining team: Kathy Garvin, Dianne Spohn, Pamela Stevens, and Amy Moran.

With 100% union membership, the FCUE is building additional union power by making connections with other area union leaders and elected officials. Earlier today, I had the pleasure of meeting with President Janine Wilson and Senator Erika Geiss, who represents Taylor in the Michigan Senate and who is also a former AFT Michigan member (WCCCFT Local #2000). It was a great meeting and we thank Senator Geiss for her steadfast support for unions and for her strong leadership in the Michigan state house.

Gov. Whitmer Proposes Historic School Aid Budget

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed the biggest state increase to education spending in 20 years without raising taxes. Her budget proposes a 5% increase in the K-12 foundation allowance as well as a 5% ongoing and a one-time 5% payment for Community Colleges and Universities. 

The 5% increase to the foundation allowance would bring it to $9,135 per student. The Governor also proposed $222 million for at risk, $150 million for special education, $30.8 million for career and technical education, and additional 5% increase for English Language Learners, ISDs and rural/isolated districts. The budget also boasts $1.5 billion for educator retention bonuses equaling $11,000 over 4 years for certified school-based staff remaining in the same school district. Support staff would receive $4,000 over two years. The proposed budget provides $450 million for the Mi Future Educator Project which would include $250 million for scholarships to individuals enrolled in a teacher education program, $50 million for graduate programs for school leaders and mental health professionals, and $150 million to pay student teachers $15/hour. There is also $150 million for “Grow Your Own” programs for support staff interested in becoming teachers, $100 million for one-on-one support for new teachers, and $74 million for Innovation Grants to address local staffing needs. $351 million is dedicated to strengthening mental health supports, access and personnel, and $50 million for after-school programs. There is also over $75 million to support early childhood initiatives and bring the GSRP per pupil allotment to $9,135. To address school infrastructure and safety, $1 billion would  be deposited into the School Facility Fund and $51 million for school safety grants.

As part of her ongoing commitment to making higher education more affordable, the Governor’s budget allocates an additional $55 million to the Reconnect program, increases the Michigan Competitive Scholarship to $1,200 and the Tuition Grant award to $2,900. Community colleges will see a 5% ongoing increase and a one-time 5% increase, both totaling $16.2 million. Universities will also see an ongoing and one-time 5% increase both totaling $76.3 million. There is $12.7 million allocated to bring all Universities to a minimum of $4,500 per student over four years, which would be a step toward equity and increase funding for GVSU, Oakland, SVSU, UM-Dearborn, and UM-Flint). 

These budget recommendations now must pass the Republican-controlled legislature. We will be reaching out to you to advocate with us for these historical investments in our students as the budget process plays out in Lansing.

Eric Rader Elected HFCC-FT 1650 President

Eric Rader has been elected President of the Henry Ford Community College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1650.  Eric is a political science professor and activist who serves on AFT’s Higher Education Program and Policy Council and was the local’s External Vice President.  Eric fills the vacancy resulting from the passing of forty-three year local president John McDonald. 

Congratulations to Eric, who we know will serve in the tradition John established.  Thanks also to Internal Vice President Jeff Morford who served as acting president while the election was organized.

Jennifer Maas Elected Macomb ISD Paras President

Congratulations to Jennifer Maas, who is the new president of the Macomb ISD Federation of Paraprofessionals, AFT Local 6216. Jennifer has big shoes to fill – taking over from Jeff Whittle, who is stepping down after 9 years. Jeff not only did a great job leading the local, but has also been a tremendous advocate for support staff in general at the state and national level. Jeff serves on our Ad Board, is co-chair of our PSRP committee, serves on the AFT’s PSRP Program & Policy Council, the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council, just to name a few. In recent years, Jeff has made it his mission to champion the passage of legislation creating pathways for support staff to become teachers, one of our top priorities in Lansing.

Honor the Service of John McDonald 

There are many reasons to contribute to PAC.  Chief among them is Governor Snyder and his Republican controlled legislature significantly cutting teacher bargaining rights, slashing education funding and raising taxes on the low income to give business a tax break.  This as opposed to Governor Whitmer’s support of our values and issues.  Giving to PAC is also a way to honor the great work of John McDonald.  Under John’s leadership, the local of less than 200 members raised significant sums.  Their understanding of the importance of political action has directly benefited all of our locals and members, by helping to elect friends of public education and working families. I can think of no better way to honor John’s service than to click the link below and contribute to PAC.

AFT Michigan fights for our members, students and communities all year round and we need your help. Can you donate $1 a week to aid us in this fight? Please visit the AFT Michigan website and set up a recurring gift to make a big difference in protecting public education and building a better Michigan future! 

Order Your At-Home COVID-19 Test

Michiganders who are most at risk of catching the virus can now order free at-home COVID-19 tests through a partnership between the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Rockefeller Foundation. Households in qualifying zip codes will receive 1 kit with five tests within one to two weeks after ordering at no cost. To check eligibility, visit, call 888-535-6136 or contact 211. 

Register for the 2022 AFT PSRP Conference

Registration is now open for the 43rd AFT Paraprofessionals and School-Related Personnel Conference, April 22-24, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in St. Louis. The registration fee is $100. 

Register here.

The conference opens on Friday, April 22. There will be a first-timer orientation for all new attendees, and then three mini plenaries will be offered for all attendees:

  • How to Run a PSRP Issue Campaign
  • Leadership Training for New Leaders
  • Organizing and Community Building

During the following two days, there will be workshops on:

  • Union leader skills, such as building steward/representative structures, communicating with your members and engaging the community.
  • Worker skills and knowledge, such as bilingual education, dealing with diversity, student management, classroom teams and green cleaning.
  • Advocating for worker/workplace concerns, such as health and safety, coalition building, workplace stress, political action/federal legislation and fighting privatization.

Visit to register and secure your hotel accommodations, for updated conference information and to download all conference materials.

Upcoming Union-Building Workshops

Delegation, Feedback & Accountability (2 Sessions)Thursday, February 24 & March 3, 20225:00 PM6:30 PM

Professional Development 

AFT Michigan 

Universal Design for Learning

March 5, 2022

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

In this workshop participants will learn how to use learner variability as a way to understand and address individual students’ learning needs. Participants will have an opportunity to apply principles of universal design to reduce barriers for students in the educational environment, assessments, methods and materials.  There will also be an opportunity to learn how the Danielson Framework for Teaching Four Domains (Teacher Evaluation) is embedded in Universal Design for Learning.

Participants will earn 6 SCECHs after completion of the workshop.

Click here to register.

Share my Lesson

Black History Month Activities: Celebrating Historical Legacies

Explore Black History Month ideas for your lesson planning with our curated collection of activities, blogs, webinars and more. You’ll find everything you need to teach your preK-12 students about key events and individuals whose accomplishments continue to influence, inspire, and shape American society and the world today. Explore some of our most popular resources with:

Improving Literacy Webinars

As part of the AFT’s new literacy campaign Reading Opens the World, Share My Lesson has a new community for you to check out. And, we are hosting a series of webinars–open to everyone–focused on various aspects of teaching literacy to help all students become strong readers. Here are a few of the upcoming webinars: 

A Primer on the Science of Reading

Thursday, February 17, 2022 | 06:30 PM Eastern Standard Time

This webinar will examine The Simple View of Reading—a formula demonstrating that an individual’s reading comprehension is the product of decoding skill and language comprehension. We will break down each category into its component factors that contribute to developing successful young readers.

Click here to register for one or all of the sessions.

In solidarity, 

David Hecker


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