AFT National Campaigns and Initiatives
There are many ways for AFT members to get more involved with their union. Whether you want to do more to help our schools, get a handle on student debt, bring more books into your community, access a library of curriculum developed by other educators, or even get travel discounts for your family, you are one click away from getting started. Check out the links below.
Thanks to new federal legislation called the RISE Act, school paraprofessionals and other support staff nationwide will now be eligible for an annual award in recognition of their invaluable work with students every day. The federal awards program, titled Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE), is the first of its kind to honor public school preK-12 support staff. Every year, the program will honor one classified employee with an award to acknowledge the hard work and excellence shown by PSRPs nationwide.
The AFT UNI catalogue is a compilation of courses available to AFT affiliates for leaders and activists. For the first time, most of the courses and programs offered by the AFT are available in one place. Learn more, download the catalog and request a course or program.
Windows and Mirrors; Having Courageous Conversations around Race is a curriculum that invites you to actively engage and support a community of working professionals having intentional conversations around race. This work is seen as a first step to continue the American Federation of Teacher's legacy of leading the way on critical issues within our union in a manner responsive to the times we are living in.
Each American should have a right to a debt-free college education. In an effort to make debt-free college a reality, AFT is working with state and local affiliates, our members and community partners to organize and mobilize towards achieving necessary political power. But this is not just a fight for future students. AFT is rolling out Student Debt Clinics, developed with the help of Jobs with Justice, to provide our members with the information they need to enroll in income-driven student loan repayment programs and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. More importantly, these clinics are a member engagement opportunity, and the run-up and follow-through for the clinics provide multiple opportunities to have meaningful conversations with members and organize them to take action to help student loan borrowers and make a college education more affordable before another generation finds themselves in debt.
Affiliates in every AFT division have embraced our partnership with First Book as a strategy to activate currents members as well as attract new ones, foster relationships with community organizations and strengthen ties with families. More than 250 AFT affiliates have organized and held First Book events in their communities. As this partnership continues to grow and evolve, we are identifying more ways that this partnership can help ensure that all communities and families have access to the resources they need to thrive. Through the combined power and reach of the AFT and First Book networks, we are changing the face of children’s literature to expand diversity and promote inclusivity. We want to ensure that all kids have access to books with characters and stories that are relevant to their lives.
In December of 2016 President Obama signed ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) into law. ESSA gets the federal government out of the bad-education policy business. Teachers, paraprofessionals and school staff nationwide were instrumental in achieving the unprecedented federal flexibility in ESSA. Now we have a real chance to make our public schools places where teaching and learning are driven by joy, not fear. We must continue to make our voices heard as ESSA is implemented. We can not leave states and districts to do this alone and squander the opportunity we worked so hard for. AFT affiliates all over the county are already engaging their members to get involved and help shape the next decade of education policies in their states.
AFT members all over the country are aligning with parents, youth and community organizations and labor groups through The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) to fight for educational justice and equity in access to school resources and opportunities. Members are engaging one another and allies because we believe strong public schools create strong communities, and we are committed to working together to reclaim the promise of public education as our nation's gateway to a strong democracy and racial and economic justice. The future of public education stands at a critical crossroads. Now, more than ever, access to good public schools is a critical civil and human right. The answer to delivering on the promise of equal opportunity lies in strengthening, not dismantling or privatizing, public education.
Created by AFT and built by educators around the country, Share My Lesson is a share-site and online community of teachers, paraprofessionals, school related personnel, parents, partners, union members and non-union members working together to provide high-quality education to all students. Share My Lesson is also a great tool for engaging members and potential members.
The AFT has long recognized that the union's responsibilities go beyond the traditional "bread and butter" issues of salary and benefits. The AFT Professional Development Program represents one of the union's major efforts to improve student achievement by making a difference in practitioners' performance and professional growth. By addressing the professional needs of our educator members, we are able to help them be even more successful in their careers; the union; the institutions in which they work; and in serving the students, families and communities they serve.
Teacher leadership embodies the idea that classroom teachers can become formal, recognized leaders within their schools and communities while still maintaining their in-the-classroom status. Teachers who feel passionate about education—and want to continue working with children—can become coaches, peer evaluators, mentors, specialists in curriculum and instruction, advocates, activists, union leaders, teachers on special assignment, fellows in state or national programs, “teacherpreneurs,” National Board Certified Teachers, teachers of the year, and more.
Community learning centers. Full-service schools. Community hubs. Whatever you call them, community schools make a difference in the lives of children, families, educators, and their communities each and every day. By moving beyond the normal confines of the school and partnering with local stakeholders, community schools provide real solutions to the unique problems of the students and families they serve, and are another major step forward in reclaiming the promise of public education.
AFT+ member benefits are there when you need them. These programs, available exclusively to current and retired AFT members and their families, provide money-saving discounts and help provide protection and support through all of life's changes and challenges.