Texas AFT convention highlights: Randi Weingarten speaks to the value of community schools in a “toxic” state and national environment

Texas AFT held its biennial convention–with the theme of “Public School Proud”–last weekend in El Paso. The convention included the usual business of electing statewide officers and deciding on resolutions to guide the union in the coming years. (Louis Malfaro was re-elected as president by acclamation, and Ray McMurrey was re-elected as secretary treasurer by acclamation.)

The convention also included a day of professional issues workshops and a special focus on community schools, with a panel discussion on Saturday morning outlining the benefits and challenges of the all-hands-on-deck model of community support for struggling schools. (You can learn more about community schools and the status of our efforts around the state here.)

AFT President Randi Weingarten then held a press conference to put the importance of community schools in focus by contrasting the work our unions do with the often “toxic” environment at state and national levels when deciding on education policy and funding.

Weingarten noted, “Making a difference in the lives of children is union work. Making a difference in the lives of children is Texas AFT work.”

She went on to take our state leadership to task for failing to support public education, while stressing that their failure doesn’t stop our good work.  “What you see here…is that despite the fact the state is abandoning its responsibility to kids, in terms of school finance, in terms of other things it needs to do to help support communities across Texas, despite all that, people of good will, and good intentions, and good ideas, are working together to help kids and making a difference in the lives of kids…and that is what community schools are about.”

You can view of a video of Weingarten’s comments here, and also see the El Paso Times report of her convention keynote speech.