I had no idea the American Federation of Teachers represented so many of the people whose work is in helping people until I arrived in Los Angeles for the 2014 AFT Convention on Friday. But I sat in the opening session, with the powerful Rev. Dr. William Barber (more about him in a moment) and the electric president of the AFT Randi Weingarten, and saw a huge contingent of nurses waving their flags.
I learned that the AFT, whose numbers have swelled to over 1.6 million members, represent five constituencies:
- AFT Teachers
- AFT PSRP (paraprofessionals and school-related personnel)
- AFT Higher Education
- AFT Public Employees
- AFT Healthcare
And I'm glad to hear it. We live in the era of union vilification. But the people who work in the professions listed above have one thing in common: their devotion to public service.
Most of the people in those professions aren't in it for the huge financial rewards. Once you stop laughing, realize that there is a bigger motivator than the almighty dollar-- on their end They do these jobs to help others.
Yet Corporate America™ keeps pulling funding from public education and the public sector in general, claiming that the private sector can do it better. But they're just keeping a big chunk of the dollars that should be spent on educating our kids to plump up their own bottom lines, and certainly aren't getting better results.
The Rev. Dr. William Barber, head of the NC NAACP and the man behind the Moral Mondays movement that began in Raleigh, spoke in the opening session Friday morning, and in a moving, fiery speech, explained the attack on public education and laid out the Moral Agenda we must embrace and organize around to fight back.
Amazing, huh? (Rev. Barber will also be speaking at Netroots Nation, and will sit for an interview with me following his speech, to air Friday morning!)
David Dayen at Salon wrote about the divide in the Democratic Party, evidenced by a no confidence vote in Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and in the formation of a new organization, led by Democratic Party operative Donna Brazille and former governors Granholm of Michigan and Strickland of Ohio, called Democrats for Public Education.
The internal war among Democrats over education policy escalated another notch this weekend at the annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union in Los Angeles. Delegates savaged the “education reform” agenda as a corporate-led threat to “everything we hold dear.” And three high-profile party stalwarts announced the formation of Democrats for Public Education, to contest the reform agenda with a public-centered alternative. We’re likely to see proxy fights between these opposing forces for years to come.
...DNC vice-chair and frequent commentator Donna Brazile, who addressed the convention Sunday. “I am ashamed of some of Democrats in my own party,” said Brazile in a feisty speech that received multiple standing ovations. “We’re not going to be silent while you are being attacked.”
Please read the rest of Dayen's article as it's a great recap of what happened at the convention this weekend - and he'll be on my show to discuss it this morning.
Speaking of the show, I have to get ready for that, so below are the two shows I did from AFT14, featuring teachers, delegates, healthcare worker and others represented by AFT, talking about the issues I've already mentioned as well as one of the big topics for debate, Common Core.