AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

FUNDAMENTAL SUPPORT SERVICES IN EDUCATION

WHEREAS, many services performed by AFT members in our schools and colleges, currently referred to by many as support services, include the work of custodians, child nutrition staff, secretaries and clerks, maintenance and skilled crafts, health services, transportation, technology specialists, paraprofessionals, security officers and thousands of other job titles; and

WHEREAS, these services, are, in fact, so absolutely fundamental to the operation of these institutions that they could be termed “core” or “essential” services; and

WHEREAS, the nature of the work and responsibilities that fall under the category of support services continually evolves and expands due to the dynamic forces that shape our education institutions and characterize the services these institutions must provide to meet the ever changing needs of students and our society; and

WHEREAS, the people who provide these services and are on the front lines to address these changing needs and priorities have long been expected, either by the culture of a school or college site or out of sheer necessity, to perform work that has evolved out of their original job descriptions, either because the work is 1) a new requirement; 2) an expanded service due to advancing technology and/or changes in the workplace or student population; or 3) is work that was performed by staff whose jobs have been eliminated; and

WHEREAS, continuing to ignore the impact core services have on the overall mission of our education institutions and relying on a method of identifying and organizing the work  required to keep schools and colleges running that leads to an inefficient and piecemeal approach rather than to a thoughtful systematic process that maximizes improvements and creates a synergy such that the whole system is improved rather than the individual parts; and

WHEREAS, as this practice of ignoring core services escalates and is exacerbated by shortfalls in funding, these added responsibilities become silently assimilated by current employees to the point where much of the work—and the workers—is "shadowed" or worse—totally invisible to the policymakers and administrators who control the design of education systems and the resources devoted to those systems; and

WHEREAS, without the consistent and uniform collection of accurate data and information related to the provision of core services it will be difficult to accurately predict trends and develop effective plans related to the operation of our schools and colleges; and

WHEREAS, one lesson school and college administrations can take from the research on effective organizational models is the need to undertake systematic and systemic reviews of the mission, the work, the workforces and productivity to ensure they are functioning at their most efficient and working in coordination to support and achieve the overall mission:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers call upon government at all levels—federal, state and local—to 1) correct current practices of data collection to ensure they properly and fully report the true and accurate nature of the work of core service staff; and 2) implement standards or benchmarks to ensure that data collection and analysis will continue to reflect changing roles and responsibilities in the future; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers educate our affiliates on best practices they should establish (through negotiations where possible and/or labor management committees) to ensure changing roles and responsibilities are accurately reflected and compensated (regular job audits, for example); and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers work with other organizations (labor unions, policy groups, community and parent groups, employer organizations) to draw attention to this problem and identify opportunities to foster cooperation and mutual support for strategies and activities to address this issue that affects all AFT members either on their job, as parents or as taxpayers; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers work with our affiliates to better prepare members to educate the public and policymakers about the true nature of their work in schools and colleges.  This should include the collection of real examples of how the "shadow" over their work negatively affects the mission of our institutions and the ability of schools and colleges to make the best use of education resources and deliver effective education.


(2008)