You may have noticed that the Legislative Hotline has been on a hiatus the past week, but that’s not because we’re taking a break. Texas AFT has been hard at work fine-tuning our plans for the legislative session beginning in January. Remember that our state Capitol is the place where policy is made that directly affects you, your work, your students and your pocketbook. So if you’re saying, “I don’t like to get into politics,” well, take note that “Politics likes to get into you.”
On Saturday, December 1, more than 120 staff representatives, leaders and members of our union met in Austin for our Legislative Kickoff, which gave local unions and other teams around the state the information and tools they need to plan for activism, member engagement and direct advocacy at the Capitol. Four pillars of priority have been established: school funding, charter school reform, expanding pension and health-care benefits and stability, and restoring professionalism to the classroom–meaning allowing teachers to have greater autonomy from top-down requirements for instruction and standardized testing. We’ll have a lot more to say about teachers reclaiming their profession and how that translates into higher pay and greater autonomy to teach in upcoming Hotlines.
Then on Wednesday through today, Texas AFT staff attended the AFT national Legislative Conference–another opportunity to learn from other unions around the country about their advocacy work. AFT President Randi Weingarten started the conference noting that we now have a more favorable political climate, for the first time in nearly a decade, and thus, we have significant opportunities to move our agenda.
Weingarten charted a way forward in her speech, saying that AFT leaders and activists across the country must engage our members and communities around our shared values and aspirations. We must prove day in and day out that the union is the vehicle for a better life, a voice at work and a stronger democracy.
“We have been through so many existential threats, I can’t even name them. We have gone through a lot together,” Weingarten said. “Now we have been granted a moment of transformation that is within our grasp. Now is our moment to seize it, to make a better life for people, because by joining together in our union, we can accomplish things that would be impossible for individuals on their own.”
Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of upcoming work for you as well, work that matters, work that will produce results to secure more funding for our schools, and thus, more money for the school employees that inspire our kids to learn each day.
AFT leaders at the Legislative Conference from hundreds of communities across the country stand in solidarity with the United Teachers of Los Angeles members, who are in the fight for reinvestment in their public schools and preparing for a possible strike in January. #WeAreLA