Around the UFT

Exploring options together

Conference on Effective Alternatives to School Closings

Millie Vargas (left) and Ana Karina Solano of United Parents of Highbridge discuss issues raised at the workshops during the lunch break.

Nick Faber, vice president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, makes a point.

Exploring options togetherWadleigh HS Chapter Leader Anthony Klug asks a question at the union leadership workshop. “Closing schools cannot be the only option,” Zakiyah Ansari, a Brooklyn parent leader with the Coalition for Educational Justice, told the 200 participants at the opening of the Conference on Effective Alternatives to School Closings on Sept. 24 at Bank Street College. Students, parents, community advocates, educators, union representatives, education officials and elected officials from across the country gathered in morning and afternoon workshops to discuss and explore options to transform struggling schools and to create a set of more effective policy recommendations for school transformation. In the workshop “Union Leadership: How Teacher Professional Growth Systems Can HelpTransform Schools,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Nick Faber, secretary of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers in Minnesota, and Bonnie Cullison, former president of the Montgomery County Education Association in Alabama, shared stories of innovation, inquiry and success. Dr. Charles Payne from the University of Chicago told participants during the plenary, “The way in which school closings are being done right now across the country is unacceptable.” He called for school leaders to build trust with their communities. Admitting to a weakness in parent engagement, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg said the Department of Education is committed to an open dialogue. Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, and City Councilman Robert Jackson, chair of the Council’s Education Committee, participated in a workshop on funding for school transformations.

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