June 19: ‘Hell No’ to State Comments on Reopening; DACA Victory for Educators; New Wellness Wednesday Classes


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Texas AFT says ‘Hell No!’ to state on campus reopenings

Teacher with Mask

On Thursday, Education Commissioner Mike Morath made vague comments that didn’t inspire confidence from educators that safety is a priority for the Texas Education Agency for reopenings. Morath stated that the agency will release more details next week, but his comments prompted the following statement from Texas AFT President Zeph Capo:

Texas AFT says “Hell No” to what looks like a return to normal in August. We are not in normal times. We won’t sacrifice our members and students for politics. Mike Morath’s comments do not inspire confidence for students, parents, and teachers returning to campuses. Parents and school employees need confidence that their voices have been heard in a meaningful way before they will return to school campuses. No, it will not be “safe” for students, teachers, and staff to return. Morath is following in the footsteps of the governor, who is expanding reopenings and loosening requirements in the face of growing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

While a completely safe return is impossible, most school districts are working hard to provide a classroom setting that will be as safe as possible. We need to put safety first before any other considerations. We need to use masks whenever possible, instead of Morath’s comments indicating there would be discretion given to districts to base on “science.”

While we welcome the idea of flexibility for remote instruction for children of families with health concerns, consideration needs to be given to educators and other school employees. They need confidence that their concerns have been addressed and that their safety is top priority. Leadership means assuring confidence, and that is what we are looking for from Mike Morath.

 

 

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Victory in DACA ruling will impact thousands of educators

Karen ReyesIn a victory for thousands of school employees across the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump Administration can’t proceed with its plans to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA provides legal protection against deportation and the right to employment in the country to some 800,000 undocumented residents who were brought to the United States as children–immigrants who refer to themselves as “Dreamers.”

Texas AFT and the American Federation of Teachers have long supported DACA as a means to protect Dreamers and the meaningful roles they play in our communities. Some 9,000 Dreamers are educators, including 1,600 in Texas.

“While this is a huge win, we cannot forget that this is a temporary victory,” said Karen Reyes, an Austin ISD kindergarten teacher and Dreamer who works with deaf children. “We need to continue to push for a legislative solution with a pathway toward citizenship, and we need to vote in November to protect immigrants and their families.” Reyes was brought to the United States by her parents from Monterey, Mexico, at age two, and ultimately earned a masters degree in deaf education. She rallied with other workers on the steps of the Supreme Court last fall and attended the arguments in the case. AFT was a plaintiff in one of the three lawsuits consolidated to be heard before the court. Reyes also is a board member of our local union, Education Austin. Read more…

 

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New rules related to the pandemic on educator certification and state requirements for observing educators in practice

TEADue to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, educator certification testing centers have been closed for extended periods or have been operating at significantly reduced capacity, limiting the ability of educators and educator candidates to complete certification exam requirements necessary to receive certification.

To manage the impact of the public health crisis on educator certification and preparation programs, Governor Abbott suspended certain requirements to provide flexibility for candidates, districts, and educator preparation programs for the 2020-21 school year. For more details, please see the TEA notice.

Additionally, the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) held an emergency meeting last Thursday to pass a temporary rule allowing educator preparation programs to use a virtual setting as a means to observe educator practice. Ordinarily, SBEC rules require in-person observations of a candidate’s clinical experience

 

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Solidarity means also working with supportive lawmakers to provide pay raises and affordable healthcare

 

Rosenthal LetterPeople in the labor movement throw around the word solidarity. Songs have even been written about it. What does it mean in real life? Texas AFT asks elected officials to stand up for educators and sometimes that means coming to socially distanced school board meetings in June. At the invitation of our local union–Cy-Fair AFT–state Rep. Jon Rosenthal spoke on behalf of Cy-Fair teachers at the School Board meeting:, “I believe all Cy-Fair education professionals deserve a raise and affordable health insurance. An across-the-board pay raise proves Cy-Fair cares about the employees who have worked so hard during this crisis.”

Thanks to Rep. Rosenthal’s show of solidarity, the Board passed salary increases and bonus stipends, along with no health-care cost increases.

“State Representative Jon Rosenthal stepped up and lobbied the school board on our behalf to amplify our voice,” said Nikki Cowart, president of Cy-Fair AFT. “We must have both Republicans and Democrats doing this very thing all over Texas. Elections matter, public school workers matter, and the students we serve certainly matter.”

Texas AFT applauds the advocacy of leaders like Cowart and Rep. Rosenthal and the hard-fought victory they won for educators.

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Wellness Wednesdays transition to Zumba!  

Zumba ClassTexas AFT’s Bridges Institute for Professional Development invites you to attend our free series of online classes to help make your mind and body well. Wednesday sessions will be broadcast from 6-7 p.m. via Zoom.

Our next session on June 24 will be Zumba, with instructor Glenda Macal. Take the “work” out of workout, by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Once the Latin and World rhythms take over, you’ll see why Zumba® Fitness classes are often called exercise in disguise. Designed for beginners and beyond.

We will post recorded sessions on this page following each event. Please share our upcoming wellness series with your co-workers.

The classes will be held by Zoom, and you can register for free here.

 

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Texas American Federation of Teachers represents more than 65,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.6-million-member American Federation of Teachers.