Address: AFT Convention

Al Shanker begins by highlighting the AFT's growth and success since the last convention. He then discusses the upcoming presidential election between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale and details why he is optimistic for a democratic win. He further argues for the AFT and labor's involvement in Mondale's campaign. Next, Shanker turns to education reform, stating that the AFT has led the discussion on innovative school reform while the NEA has remained traditional in its responses to bad reports of school status. He notes how governors and state legislatures are working to pass laws for school reform programs, taking the initiative where the federal government has lagged. Shanker warns of states turning to solutions like charter schools, vouchers, and privatization of public education. Next Shanker discusses the massive teacher shortage and the inability to keep smart teachers on the payroll. He says proposed higher salaries will help, but may not be enough. Shanker fears that new legislation's mandates will disrespect teachers' professional judgement and create a working environment that better teachers would leave. Therefore, Shanker urges teachers, informed by training and experience, to change the system rather than wait for less informed lawmakers to dictate change. To do this, Shanker argues, teachers must seize professional independence and hold colleagues to agreed upon standards. Finally, Shanker recognizes the inherent problem in maintaining both a union that protects workers and establishing professionals whose responsibility it is to decide if a person is not performing effectively enough to retain his or her job.

Washington, D.C.
32 pages
Attachment(click to download)
63.87.pdf63.87.pdf1.45 MB