St. Louis AFSA GEB Meeting Summary

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Gathering for the second meeting of 2016, the AFSA General Executive Board was in St. Louis, MO on March 31 through April 1.

The meetings began with a visit to Bertha Gilkey PAMOJA Elementary/Middle Academy of the St. Louis Public Schools District. The GEB met with President of and Principal of the Administrators Association of the St. Louis Public Schools (AFSA Local 44), and Sean Nichols, Principal at PAMOJA, and Vice President of AFSA Local 44. They were given a tour and learned more about the school’s unique culture program.

The AFSA GEB then embarked on a tour of Ferguson. The tour was led by AFSA VP, Dr. Cynthia Warren, a native of the St. Louis area. Dr. Warren explained the history of the St. Louis community and the police department, and how the tragedy has affected the community since. The group was shown the marketplace where Michael Brown was originally arrested, and the site where the unarmed teen was tragically gunned down, and the street where his body was horrifically left alone for hours. Dr. Warren also discussed the many local businesses that were burned during the riots, and where the national guard set up their bases, including military equipment and tanks.

It was evident to all how much of an impact the events had on the surrounding community, and the city of St. Louis. AFSA hopes that, with the hiring of a new chief of the Ferguson Police Department, the community can continue to heal and the police department will work to improve the relations and the trust with the community.

Later that afternoon, the GEB heard a presentation from Mr. Will Fischer, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council. As Mr. Fischer explained, the Union Veterans Council brings union members who are veterans together to speak out on the issues that impact veterans most, especially the need for good jobs and a strong, fully funded and staffed VA. Everyone is either closely related to a veteran  or knows someone who has served their country. Veterans are our teachers, nurses, firefighters, administrators and important members of our communities.

Mr. Fischer emphasized that when a member of Congress proposes to cut funding for education, they are not only hurting students and educators, they are hurting our veterans. When Congress talks about cutting Social Security, they are not only hurting our retirees, they are taking food of the tables of veterans. When Congress talks about cutting funding for the VA, they are taking away the basic health care and services our veterans desperately need.

AFSA is a proud member of the Union Veterans Council. We will continue working to identify AFSA members that are also veterans, and to urge them to join the Union Veterans Council, and work together to support issues that affect veterans.

On Saturday, April 1, the AFSA General Executive Board held committee meetings, as well as the full GEB meeting.

The Program committee, chaired by Crystal Boling-Barton, President of the Buffalo Council of Supervisors & Administrators, AFSA Local 10 discussed several items:

1)              Crisis and Bereavement Trainings – AFSA, as a member of the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, has worked to provide our members with information, insights, and practical advice they need to better understand and meet the needs of the millions of grieving kids in America’s classrooms. To help further this goal, AFSA held a training in St. Louis, MO on grief and bereavement. Future training locations include Newark, NJ, Buffalo, NY, Baltimore, MD and other locations to follow.

2)              Webinar – In March, AFSA hosted a webinar on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The webinar was led by AFSA lobbyist, Jon Bernstein, and educated attendees on the important changes that will occur under ESSA, and what is now history from the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). For those that could not attend the live event, it is now available for archived viewing at http://archive.afsaadmin.org/new-webinar-available-how-the-essa-affects-afsa/

3)              2018 AFSA Triennial Constitutional Convention – The committee heard presentations for potential convention locations, and discussed what several areas had to offer. The deliberations for the 2018 site will continue.

 

The AFSA Legislative Committee meeting followed, and reviewed the following key issues:

1)              Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – In February, AFSA and several locals sent joint letters to the State Commissioner’s of Education. The letters informed the State Superintendents and Commissioners about language under ESSA that allows states to reserve up to 3% of their Title IIA funding for principal specific professional development, and urges them to use the funding for that.  Responses from the State Commissioner’s offices were reviewed, and appear that they understand the importance of supporting school leaders.

a.              AFSA has continued its collaboration with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). On February 18, 2016 the groups sent a letter to John King, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education (John King has since been confirmed as Secretary of Education). The letter urges the Department to provide states with technical assistance and guidance concerning Title II of the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) in the areas of: Encouraging States and Districts to Prioritize Spending on Principal Leadership Activities, Ensure Program Outcomes Build the Capacity of Building Principals and School Leaders, Provide Technical Assistance to Support Principals and Other School Leaders, Clarify Definition of ‘Experienced Principals’, and Leadership in Early Childhood Education.

b.              AFSA, NASSP, and NAESP also send a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations sub-committees on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies. The asked they secure now less than $30 million for Fiscal Year 2017 for the School Leader Recruitment and Support Program (SLRSP), which is the only federal initiative that directly supports the recruitment, preparation, placement, support and retention of effective principals and other school leaders in high-need schools.

c.              April 11-15, 2016 has been declared National Assistant Principals Week. AFSA, NASSP and NAESP will be promoting the week on social media. In addition, there will be a number of activities school leaders, parents, teachers, and students can take part in to promote the week and show appreciation for assistant principals. We urge you to visit https://www.nassp.org/recognition/national-assistant-principals-week?SSO=true to learn more and participate!

d.              AFSA as a member of the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE), signed onto a letter to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee, expressing our strong opposition to private school vouchers.

e.              AFSA Lobbyist John Bernstein provided the committee with a thorough update on the latest federal and state education and budget issues.

 

The PAC committee then met to review the status of the AFSA PAC, to discuss strategies to strengthen the PAC, and the importance of PAC to ensure AFSA has a voice in Washington, DC.

The Policy Committee met to review the AFSA General Executive Board Approved Polices, and to ensure all policies were current.

The Finance Committee met to review the AFSA Budget and Per-Capita status.

The full General Executive Board met during the afternoon of April 1, to officially approve the committee reports. In addition, the GEB heard a presentation from VP Wendi Caporicci. Ms. Caporicci was selected by President Woodard to represent AFSA at the AFL-CIO Women’s Global Leadership Program, which was held in NYC from March 13-16. Wendi reported on the meetings highlights, which included Innovations in Clean Energy Access to Promote Women’s Safety and Empowerment, How Technology Can Be Harnessed to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls in The Digital and Technological Age, Example of collective organizing: The Cochabamba Water Revolt, and many other issues that are having a tremendous impact on women around the world. AFSA President Diann Woodard and the GEB thanked and congratulated Wendi for representing AFSA at this important meeting.

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