AFTNM, ATF, and AEAA Respond to NM PED School Closure Threats

American Federation of Teachers New Mexico,
the Albuquerque Teachers Federation,
and Albuquerque Educational Assistants Association
Respond to NM PED School Closure Threats

American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly, Albuquerque Educational Assistants Association President Kathy Chavez, and Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein released the following statement:

“Yesterday, Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski announced the New Mexico Public Education Department is placing four elementary schools on “rigorous intervention” tracks – three in the Albuquerque Public School district, and one in the Dulce Independent School district.

“It is incredibly disheartening that instead of re-doubling efforts to help these four schools, the New Mexico PED has once again chosen to revert to old, worn-out labeling. Instead of making meaningful investments in early interventions for our students, the New Mexico PED has threatened school closures – a tactic that has been proven to destroy communities, and not help students. Instead of working to promote ways to combat pervasive poverty, high levels of student mobility, and other systemic issues, the New Mexico PED has chosen to single out schools based solely on standardized test scores.

“We will work collaboratively with district leadership to ensure no schools are closed and that our teachers and parents will not fear for their students’ educations. We challenge the New Mexico PED and the Secretary-designate to fully embrace meaningful interventions for all of New Mexico’s schools and break away of the status quo approach of blaming and shaming our students, schools, and educators.”

AFT & BATS Release Quality of Life Survey

Earlier this year, many of you participated in the 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life survey. Four thousand folks responded to the public version of the survey online, and another 830 educators responded in a random sampling of AFT members. The survey also oversampled educators from the Solvay (N.Y.) Teachers Association and the North Syracuse (N.Y.) Education Association, which have strong labor-management collaborative environments. On Oct. 30, the AFT and the Badass Teachers Association released the results of the survey. As a union, we fight for a better life for those we serve and those we represent, and that starts with caring—so educators’ stress is a big concern for us. The report has already gotten press coverage from USA Today, Education Week, CBS This Morning and others.

The 2017 survey served as a follow-up to a similar poll the AFT and the Badass Teachers Association conducted in 2015 in which 30,000 educators reported often feeling emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of the day. In the 2017 survey, educators remain highly stressed, with the biggest difference between 2015 and 2017 being the jump in the number of days per month educators said their mental health was not good. In 2015, 34 percent said their mental health was not good for seven or more days in the last month. In 2017, that number climbed to 58 percent among the 4,000 public survey respondents.

Highlights of the 2017 survey:

  • Nearly two-thirds, or 61 percent, of educators find work “always” or “often” stressful, twice the rate of other employees in the workforce.
  • 27 percent of educators said they have been threatened, bullied or harassed, compared with 7 percent of employed adults in the general population. Who was the bully? 35 percent identified a principal, administrator or supervisor; 50 percent said it was a student.
  • Educators felt most respected by their co-workers, students and students’ parents—the people with whom they interact daily—and felt most disrespected by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (86 percent), the media (61 percent), and state and federal elected officials (59 percent).
  • In Solvay and North Syracuse, union-management partnerships focus on developing good supports for teachers, including mentoring programs for new teachers and peer evaluation systems.
  • Educators in Solvay and North Syracuse reported decreased likelihood of very stressful work and decreased likelihood of leaving the profession within the next year. They were significantly less likely to report being bullied, harassed or threatened by a supervisor.

read the full survey report »

Share My Lesson: Activism

As educators, each day we find ourselves in the position to not only teach about the world around us, but to also model what being an active and engaged citizen looks like. As unionists, we are part of a larger movement that seeks equity, not only in our workplace and in our classrooms, but also in our larger communities.

AFT’s Share My Lesson is an incredible resource that provides free lesson plans for educators and this month, we’d like to share “When the Rules Aren’t Right”.

This lesson plan uses the graphic novel “When the Rules Aren’t Right” and other support materials and activities to facilitate student learning in the following ways:

  • Introduce students to important events in women’s and labor rights history
  • Help students identify social justice causes that are relevant/important to them
  • Provide students an opportunity to think strategically about sharing social justice messages and use that knowledge to create their own protest sign

If you’re looking for a teacher-created, student-centered lesson plan on activism, check it out!

Bernstein Leads National Conversation on Teacher-Led Reform

For many years, ATF President, Dr. Ellen Bernstein, has lead the National conversation about unions, educator empowerment and the need to fight back against the privatization of public education in order to provide all students the education they deserve. Her leadership within the Teacher Union Reform Network (a national, union-led effort to strengthen the nation’s teachers unions by promoting progressive reforms that will ultimately lead to better learning for all students) has been critical in creating progressive agendas for our unions nation wide. Most recently, Dr.Bernstein helped spearhead a new report called "Our TURN," which was recently highlighted by several news sources. It will soon be featured in Ed Week.

Here's what The Century Foundation had to say:

Our TURN: Revitalizing Public Education and Strengthening Democracy Through the Collective Wisdom of Teachers lays out a fresh, exciting, teacher-led vision on what it will take to improve our public education system and reestablish its rightful place as the cornerstone of our democracy. The report lays out an entirely new framework for thinking about education innovation. Instead of just responding reactively to bad, top-down ideas to privatize education or micromanage teachers, TURN’s report outlines a positive vision of education reform, tapping into the collective wisdom of educators. Led by some of most creative unionists I’ve ever met—Adam Urbanski of the Rochester Teachers Association, Ellen Bernstein of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, and Tom Alves of the San Juan Teachers Association.

• Century Foundation article on "Our TURN" »
related story by Education Dive »
• download 
entire report »
• download 
report summary »

Science is Real Videos & Ruszkowski's "Changes"...Round Two


American Federation of Teachers New Mexico
and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation
React to Second Round of Proposed Changes to Science Standards
Secretary-Designate Claims Changes Reflect Public Input; Won’t Disclose Authors

Albuquerque – American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly and Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein released the following statements:

“Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski’s late-night announcement of a second round of changes to New Mexico’s science standards still fails to meet the demands of 21st century science education, and jeopardizes New Mexico’s students and schools.

“With Mr. Ruszkowski opting to remove only the two or three most egregious proposals, he is attempting to distract New Mexicans from the fact his proposed standards still are overly burdensome for educators and students, and his kowtowing to the fossil fuel industry in our State. Additionally, Mr. Ruszkowski still refuses to disclose who exactly contributed the proposed changes, depriving New Mexicans from knowing who is influencing education in our State.

“Had the Secretary-Designate actually been listening to the hundreds of educators, scientists, students, and concerned New Mexicans who traveled to Santa Fe to participate in the State-mandated public hearing, and the thousands more who signed petitions protesting these so-called ‘New Mexico STEM-Ready’ science standards, he would have simply adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, as written, and stopped the politicization of our curriculum,” said Ly.

“I consider the changes from the acting PED Secretary to be minimally effective,” said Bernstein.


Fed Reps Pass Resolutions Against White Supremacy & for Full Funding of the Census

On October 3rd, Fed Reps voted in favor of two resolutions: one condemning white supremacy in all of its forms, and the other to fully fund the 2020 Census. The first motion declares that the Albuquerque Teachers Federation “will partner with and support our allied community organizations and elected officials standing against hate groups and white supremacy.”

The other resolution that passed on October 3rd was to support New Mexico Voices for Children in its effort to advocate for full funding of the 2020 Census. The Trump Administration has requested a dramatic cut in the Census budget. Additionally, proposed legislation requiring individuals to indicate their citizenship status could severely distort the accuracy of the Census for political and ethno-nationalist reasons.

What this distortion and lowered Census funding could mean for New Mexico is a significant reduction of the more than $6.2 billion in federal funding for programs such SNAP, Head Start, the school lunch program, Title I programs, Medicare, and housing programs. This could also dramatically change voting districts and have the effect of discriminating against areas with large populations of historically marginalized populations.

Science Is Real. A Campaign by ATF and AFT NM

Dear colleagues,

As you may be aware, the PED has altered the Next Generation Science Standards to omit critical, research-based facts about science- including global warming and evolution. The PED, under the direction of Acting-Secretary of Education, Chris Ruszkowski, has decided to hold the public information hearings on a school day, when educators cannot physically be there. Together with your help, as a union, we are taking action.

1. Sign our collective letter and add your expertise. We need thousands of educators to submit your testimony to add it to the official record on your behalf when we go to Santa Fe to testify.  Add your comments to our collective letter »

2. Calling all science teachers! We need your knowledge base. Help us write a letter to the PED that will be creatively illustrated & filmed. Email act@atfunion to help, or stop by the union (530 Jefferson St NE) this Thursday, October 5 at 4:30pm to meet up with your colleagues.

3. Calling all art teachers or educators with artistic abilities! We need your help creating the visuals for the video we’re going to shoot and send to the PED. Email if you're interested or come to the union (530 Jefferson St NE, 81708) this Friday, October 6 at 4:30pm.

4. Calling folks (media arts/drama teachers!) willing to help out with making the video/ appearing in the video. Do you have expertise in filming? Animation? Editing? Know about lighting? Backdrops? Do you have professional equipment we can use? Do you want to be filmed?  Email and save the date: Monday, October 9 at 4:30pm at the union building, 530 Jefferson St. NE, 87108.

Thank you for taking action to ensure that our students have access to real science and thank you for acting on behalf of your profession. Your testimony will help ensure that educator voices throughout the state are heard on this important matter.

In solidarity,


ATF Fall Membership Meeting Focuses on Our Union in the Context of Privatization

This year’s ATF Fall membership meeting placed ATF in a larger context of unionism throughout our nation. We know that locally, our unions are under attack. We’ve spent the past seven years under the Martinez administration that has only sought to cripple— if not, destroy— our unions. What the membership meeting brought to light, however, is that we are not the only state (or union!) fighting for our profession. Despite the fact that our governor was elected during a wave of tea-party candidates throughout the nation, our union has, in fact, thrived.

In cities like Chicago, Portland, Baltimore, Detroit, in states like Wisconsin and Connecticut and in school districts like Douglas County, CO educators have lost jobs, been furloughed, lost benefits, schools have closed or been charterized and some have completely lost their union and their collective bargaining rights.

In the face of mounting opposition to workers’ rights and in the context of privatization at any cost, our local union (yes, ATF!) stands out as one of the strongest in the nation. We’ve beat-back furloughs, resisted layoffs, defeated Right-to-Work legislation, won our School Board elections against Tea-Party candidates, and, in addition to playing defense, ATF has actually seen some gains. While they may seem like small wins, the weight of their strength in this context speaks volumes. And that’s something we should all be proud of.

View the Prezi »

Defending DACA

AFT’s Weingarten Responds to DACA Repeal

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten released the following statement on President Trump’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects more than 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children:

“The young people covered by DACA are woven into our communities—learning in, working in, defending and contributing to the country that is their home. Offering protection to DACAmented immigrants was done based on the understanding that America is stronger when we value people and create opportunity to achieve the American dream, regardless of demography or geography.

“President Trump made a promise that he would treat Dreamers with ‘great heart.’ Now, for seemingly political reasons, he is breaking his promise to students, teachers, doctors, nurses and lawyers who took him at his word. This is not the America I know—an America that says one thing to its citizens and then does another. Betraying DACA Dreamers is betraying the values of our diverse and welcoming nation. America will not be stronger or more secure when these young people are torn away from the country they love and call their own. America will be diminished—and the toll will be measured by families ripped apart, people cast into the shadows and into poverty, businesses upended, economies weakened and dreams shattered.

“As children return to school, many carry with them constant, crippling terror and uncertainty because of their immigration status. Children should be free to learn and live without fear. Inhumane immigration policies deprive them of that freedom.

“President Trump has an opportunity to lead on this issue. The time has come for the president and Congress to offer comprehensive solutions to our broken immigration system. We must defend DACA now, but we know the enduring work is to provide pathways to citizenship for millions of students, families and neighbors working and living alongside us, which includes passing the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017.