AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, the AFT is deeply concerned that many high-poverty and/or geographically isolated schools and school districts too often have difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers needed to provide students with instruction that leads to academic success; and

WHEREAS, research shows that teacher quality is the single most important school-related variable affecting student achievement; and

WHEREAS, these "hard-to-staff" schools experience teacher turnover at significantly higher rates than less challenging schools; and

WHEREAS, research also shows that financial incentives alone are not enough to keep teachers in hard-to-staff schools and further indicates that factors contributing to teachers transferring to other schools or leaving the profession include:

    • student discipline problems and personal safety concerns
    • lack of on-site support and intervention for students experiencing learning difficulties
    • poor administrative leadership and support
    • unhealthy physical plant
    • lack of faculty influence on decisions that affect student learning
    • inadequate ongoing job-embedded professional development and other supports
    • lack of student academic success
    • inadequate time for planning, preparation and instruction
    • excessive classroom intrusions; and

WHEREAS, research shows that collective bargaining stabilizes the teaching force in hard-to-staff schools; and

WHEREAS, programs that provide housing and transportation incentives positively affect teacher recruitment and retention to hard-to-staff schools; and

WHEREAS, too many districts lack software systems that allow for electronic job postings, online applications, e-notifications and other processes that expedite the hiring and recruitment processes; and

WHEREAS, the most effective schools are staffed by teachers who choose to work there:

RESOLVED, that the AFT acknowledges schools alone cannot solve all the social ills that plague children, particularly those in high-poverty schools. The AFT will partner with parents to increase their engagement and educate the public and use our political influence to identify and eradicate the non-school factors that impede student learning; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its state and local affiliates work to support programs and incentives that make hard-to-staff schools rewarding and attractive sites for teaching and learning and that are designed to improve student learning, increase staff stability and professional morale using bargained or mutually agreed upon incentives and professional supports that include a strategic mix of:

  • significant salary and pension incentives for recruitment and retention;
  • significantly effective safety and discipline programs and policies;
  • research-based initiatives and related staff training, including administrators, to improve student discipline, reduce property loss and increase personal safety in hard-to-staff schools;
  • sufficient numbers of appropriately trained paraprofessionals and assistants to support instruction of students and classroom management;
  • class sizes that are small enough to help students meet learning goals;
  • programs and policies to create pipelines of future teachers from the community who are more likely to stay long-term and create a stable veteran teaching force over time;
  • real opportunities for administrators, teachers and paraprofessionals to learn best practices;
  • real opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals to learn and implement the best collaborative planning and working practices;
  • time built into the school day so that teachers have opportunities to work together on common learning goals;
  • induction programs with intensive mentoring components that focus on the needs of teachers to ensure student success at these schools;
  • paid learning programs, outside of the school day, that provide opportunities for teachers to focus on issues that will improve student learning (e.g., curriculum training, classroom management);
  • targeted incentives for special groups of teachers who have the needed skills and expertise to transfer into these schools (e.g., National Board-Certified teachers, lead teachers, master teachers);
  • transfer options for teacher teams that want to work in hard-to-staff schools;
  • teacher housing and transportation incentives;
  • retention of benefits and rights that have accrued as a result of prior school placements; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its affiliates advocate for a safe, orderly and disciplined environment in every school, especially hard-to-staff schools; and

  • call for the implementation of research-based programs and practices—including alternative education programs—that will ensure safety for all who attend or work in our schools; and

  • lobby Congress, state and local policymakers to target funding and other resources toward improving learning conditions and academic and leadership supports in hard-to-staff schools; and

  • lobby Congress, state and local policymakers to create hard-to-staff service scholarships and grants with four-year teaching minimums, and fund hard-to-staff induction programs with full-time mentors; and

  • advocate for research-based programs and policies that ensure on-site support and intervention for students experiencing learning difficulties; and

  • reiterate the significance of effective administrative leadership on the success of hard-to-staff schools and advocate for the assignment of skilled, knowledgeable and consistent administrators to hard-to-staff schools; and

  • advocate for expanded and authentic influence by faculty members on decisions that affect students in hard-to-staff schools; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue its work in identifying the negative impact of unhealthy physical school plants on student achievement and continue to advocate for the improvement of school facilities, particularly at hard-to-staff schools; and

RESOLVED, that to ensure these schools have access to the broadest selection of qualified candidates, AFT affiliates push districts to aggressively market the incentives and benefits of working in its hard-to-staff schools; and

RESOLVED, to ensure that the most qualified candidates have the option to teach in hard-to-staff schools, AFT affiliates call on school districts to develop more timely notification and assignment policies by streamlining their application processes and tracking systems; and

RESOLVED, that AFT affiliates and local school districts collaborate to develop interview team selection guidelines and candidate screening tools that result in the hiring of the best qualified teachers to meet the needs of local schools; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT support affiliates to accomplish the goals of this resolution, including negotiating contracts, incentives and improved conditions that ensure hard-to-staff schools are able to hire and retain qualified teachers and advocate for changes in NCLB that support such contracts; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT fight at the national level to focus attention and resources on our most challenged schools and students.

[Adopted by AFT Executive Council, May 2007]