August 30, 2011
AFT President Randi Weingarten Praises Collaborative Work
During Two Stops at Palm Beach Schools
WASHINGTON—Despite drastic education budget cuts and policies that attack educators, Palm Beach teachers and administrators are working collaboratively to develop programs that will make a difference in the lives of children, AFT President Randi Weingarten said during stops at two Palm Beach schools today.
“Notwithstanding devastating cuts to education and policies that both silence teachers and put obstacles in their way, educators in Palm Beach have been doing what they do best—developing programs to strengthen teaching and learning,” Weingarten said. “The school district’s collaborative work with teachers and administrators is refreshing and is making a difference in the lives of students.”
Palm Beach was the second stop on the AFT’s coast-to-coast “Making a Difference Every Day” tour, highlighting approaches that are sustainable, scalable and will help all kids succeed.
At Lake Worth Community High School and Okeeheelee Middle School, Weingarten noted the county’s performance-pay plan aimed at helping to help recruit and retain talented teachers in these academically struggling schools. The plan, which will become effective in the 2014-15 school year after a teacher evaluation plan is developed, gives a school’s teachers who are on annual contracts (generally, new teachers) a bonus if students improve on the FCAT tests, with an additional amount going to teachers of subjects that saw increases. Teachers who have continuing contracts—veterans with three or more years of experience—will not earn performance pay.
Acknowledging the difficult economy and jobs situation in Palm Beach, she praised Lake Worth’s efforts to give students a boost through its career-oriented magnet programs and after-school and weekend programs, which were developed and now run by teachers. At Okeeheelee, she watched as the predominantly Caribbean students were taught in a dual-language (Spanish and English) setting.
For stories and photos of the “Making a Difference Every Day” tour, see: www.aft.org/difference. Back-to-school visits are in Charleston and McDowell County, W.Va.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Hartford, Conn.; Tacoma and Seattle, Wash.; Detroit, Mich.; Austin, Texas; and Long Island, N.Y.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.