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Creating a Support Staff-to-Teacher Pipeline

My column this month in the Michigan Advance proposes a statewide expansion of successful “grow your own” programs to assist support staff who want to become teachers to achieve their goal. As I say in the piece, “For too long, we have ignored an untapped source of prospective teachers: paraprofessionals who already work in schools. These employees are already an integral part of the school environment who work frequently with students, providing support in and outside of the classroom.” 

Please provide name, address and phone number in order to be added to the food giveaway list. Information must be sent via email to by Friday, November 12, 2021. Confirmations will be sent to those who are placed on the list. Please indicate your union and whether you are laid off, terminated or underemployed. Pickup location, date and time will be sent in the confirmation email. 

New President at Huron School District Support

Heather Johnson has been elected president of the Huron School District Federation of Support Staff.  Congratulations Heather, and thank you to outgoing leader Tammy Banas for your solid leadership and for your work bringing the local into the AFT.

Support Indian Workers in New Jersey 

The struggles of working people are connected across the globe. Over 200 workers from India were brought to Robbinsville, New Jersey to construct a Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan (BAPS) temple. These workers report being confined to poor living conditions against their will and forced to work 13-hour shifts with no time off while earning about $1 an hour. Just one year ago, one of the workers, Mohanlal, died on the job. In response, the other temple workers from his village went on strike, demanding that his body be returned to his family. Management responded by cremating Mohanlal’s body in secret and deporting the strike leaders back to India.

This past May, the workers filed a class action lawsuit against their employer. The FBI raided the temple taking 164 workers into protective custody and charging the employer with wage-theft and human trafficking.  Since they were taken into custody, these workers have not been able to afford basic necessities such as food, clothing, and medicine. This also means they have not been able to send money back home to their families. With the support of unions in the United States and India, these workers are demanding justice across the global BAPS temple construction supply chain.

All of the temple workers are from oppressed castes in India, including Dalit and Adivasi people, who experience economic and social inequality and face violence when they stand up for their rights in India and in the U.S. Let’s show them that we have their backs! The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) is raising funds to support the workers during this process

MDE, Tribal Educators Promote Resources for Native American Heritage Month

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) partners with the Confederation of Michigan Tribal Education Departments (CMTED) through the ongoing efforts of MDE’s Indigenous Education Initiative. To help Michigan educators better understand the rich history and contributions of Indigenous peoples in Michigan, the all-Indigenous-women-led CMTED has developed a first-of-its-kind resource guide developed for educators by Indigenous educators.

The CMTED resource guide is intentionally focused on the more inclusive social studies standards adopted by the State Board of Education in June 2019 that reference tribal nations.

“It is the commitment of CMTED to support the role that K-12 education plays in educating Michigan’s students and educators about the original people of this land,” said Melissa Isaac, CMTED Giigdookwe (leader or chair in Anishinaabemowin). “In turn, it is the ethical responsibility of Michigan’s K-12 educators to make the personal and professional commitment to learn about the land on which they live, work, and play. Intentional and collaborative relationships between CMTED and the K-12 teaching force will help ensure a more informed Michigan citizenry.”

For the first time in Michigan history, CMTED has a platform ( to share Indigenous-developed and Indigenous-vetted educational resources with Michigan’s educators. The initial resource on the website—Maaaawndoonganan: Anishinaabe Resource Manual—contains CMTED-endorsed instructional materials such as books, podcasts, videos, and websites.

Nominate a Colleague Doing Great Things for Our Member Spotlight Program

We are committed to highlighting 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, we are launching a Member Spotlight Program and need your help.  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!

Voucher Bills Clarification

Last week we informed you that the governor planned to veto HB 5405 and SB 687, which would create a voucher-like system via a complicated tax credit scholarship system. In response to a question from a reader, we wanted to clarify that the program would not directly allocate state funds to the scholarship accounts, but the state would lose revenue due to the tax exemption. These bills represent another attempt to try to skirt Michigan’s constitutional prohibition on spending public dollars on private schools and siphon money, directly or indirectly, away from public education.

Local Organizing Structures

How are well-run, sustainable, and thriving unions set up? Sign up for our Local Organizing Structure training on November 9, to learn about structural components and organizational practices that can help your union run effectively and efficiently, with attention to member participation and leadership development. This training will be of interest to union members and leaders who want to increase member engagement and create opportunities for members to grow.

Local Organizing StructuresTuesday, November 9, 20215:00 PM6:30 PM
Lobbying 101Wednesday, November 10, 20215:00 PM6:30 PM
Group Decision-Making (2 Sessions)Thursday, November 11 & 18, 20215:00 PM6:30 PM
Worksite Structure Planning WorkshopTuesday, November 16, 20217:00 PM8:30 PM
Treasurer Tuesday: Financial Reports & IRS ComplianceTuesday, November 16, 20217:00 PM8:30 PM

The AFT Michigan Administrative Board has created five working groups to help push forward our work in priority areas that have emerged from, and cut across, our Constituency Committees, and we are looking for members to add your expertise and passion to the groups (listed below, with target constituencies we will seek to involve):

  • Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline (All Constituencies)
  • Increasing the Number of Black Educators in Michigan (All Constituencies)
  • Support Staff-to-Teacher Pathways (PreK-12 Support Staff, Teachers, Special Ed/ISD)
  • Converting Part-time to Full-time Faculty (NonTenure-Track Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty)
  • New Deal for Higher Ed: Fighting Back Against Austerity Budgeting (Grads, NonTenure-Track Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty & Academic Staff)

Each group will begin with an Assessment Phase before moving toward recommending action steps to the AFT Michigan Administrative Board. Time commitments are flexible and will vary depending on the project and timeline. See descriptions of each group’s scope of work and interest sign up forms at

Contribute to the AFT Michigan PAC Today

AFT Michigan fights for our members, students and communities all year round and we need your help. Can you donate $52 a year to elect more candidates who share our values? Please visit and set up a recurring gift. For as little as $1 a week, YOU can make a big difference in protecting public education and building a better Michigan future! 

Professional Development 

AFT Michigan 

Facilitating the Learning Environment:  Flow Vibe and Agency

Saturday, December 4, 2021

8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

In this workshop participants will take on the role of a conductor (symphony orchestra) as they explore ways to facilitate an equitable and just learning environment, provide structure for self-regulation and foster student agency, where all learners progress.

Click here to register. 

Veterans Day Lesson Plans and the Meaning of Service

Find new ways to teach your students about the meaning of Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Veterans Day, also known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. Unlike Memorial Day, which commemorates the men and women who have died while serving in the military, Veterans Day honors all who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Share My Lesson’s collection of free, vetted preK-12 resources and activities has new ideas, including how to turn this holiday into a community action day and a helpful toolkit for children of military families.

Upcoming Webinars

Barriers to the Superintendency: Exposing Racial & Gender Gaps in K-12 Education Leadership, Nov. 9, at 10 a.m. EST

The Rennie Center and Eos Foundation will release never-before-seen data on the stark inequities in K-12 leadership. They’ll discuss the gender and racial barriers to the superintendency and what K-12 leaders, school committee members and policymakers can do about it.

Tips and Tricks for Saving Time with Share My Lesson, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. EST

Have you explored the new Share My Lesson website yet? We’ve made a lot of changes and improvements. Join Kelly Booz, Director of Share My Lesson to get the inside scoop on how to save time, minimize stress, have some fun, and find exactly what you need on the new Share My Lesson website. We’ll also share some tips and tricks for getting the most out of our newest features.

Strengthening and Sustaining the Educator Workforce: Now More Than Ever, Nov. 18, noon to 1 p.m. EST

Cross-institutional relationships are more important than ever in the wake of the isolation and disruption caused by the pandemic. Effective partnerships are complex and require intentional structures, dedicated resources, and shared goals and values. Please join the Educator Preparation Laboratory (EdPrepLab) for the Virtual Fall Forum, which will highlight research-based best practices in creating and supporting these types of partnerships. The forum will feature EdPrepLab district partners working to build and sustain high-quality partnerships that strengthen and professionalize the educator workforce.

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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