A Resolution Against So-Called Academic Freedom Bills That Undermine The Accurate Teaching Of Evolution

 

Whereas, biological evolution is a fundamental underpinning of modern biological thought and research, and is not the subject of controversy among scientists; and

Whereas, the unfettered teaching of evolution in public schools has been under attack since the early part of the twentieth century; and

Whereas, the Supreme Court declared in Edwards v. Aguillard that requirements to teach creation science in schools as an alternative to evolution are unconstitutional; and

Whereas, the Supreme Court further declared in Kitzmiller v. Dover that requirements to teach intelligent design in schools as an alternative to evolution are unconstitutional; and

Whereas, a strategy to insert creationism, intelligent design, or evolution denial into public science classrooms has emerged under the guise of laws protecting academic freedom in the classroom; and

Whereas, these laws may include provisions to teach “the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution,” and offers students “protection for subscribing to a particular position on views regarding biological or chemical evolution,” (Discovery Institute, Model Academic Freedom Statue on Evolution, 2007); and

Whereas, these laws may include provisions to help students develop “critical thinking skills” on “controversial issues,” and direct teachers to discuss “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories,” (Louisiana Science Education Act, 2008); and

Whereas, over 50 of these bills have been introduced in 13 state legislatures since 2004, and more have already been introduced in 2013 than in all of 2012; and

Whereas, two of these bills (Louisiana SB561/733 in 2008 and Tennessee HB 368 in 2011) have become law in their respective states; and

Whereas, the National Center for Science Education declares: “Teachers have no freedom to misinform and miseducate students. It is scientifically inappropriate and educationally irresponsible to present [intelligent design] under its own name or in any other guise as scientifically credible. And it is unconstitutional to do so in the public schools;” now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon encourages and expects Oregon’s science teachers, in presenting evolution and other topics, to understand, respect, and communicate the consensus of the scientific community, in order to present the science curriculum effectively to their students; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will be on alert for, and opposed to, bills at the state or federal level that attempt to use the guise of academic freedom as a means of introducing creationism, intelligent design, or evolution denial into science classrooms; and

Be It Further Resolved, that a similar resolution will be forwarded to the AFT-National Convention for consideration.

 

 

 

A Resolution In Support Of Prioritizing Internal Organizing And Expansion Of AFT-Oregon Locals

 

Whereas, the current state of union membership is decreasing across the United States, falling from 11.8% in 2011 to 11.3% in 2012 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012); and

Whereas, this decrease in membership is most pronounced during election cycles when union organizing efforts are focused on political action instead of internal organizing and expansion (Unions:  Put Organizing First, The Nation, 2012); and

Whereas, political action organizing is a defensive strategy, and not a strategy for expanding union membership and representation; and

Whereas, the ability of a union to protect its members and strengthen its contract is fundamentally based in the strength and solidarity of its membership; and

Whereas, AFT-Oregon has had recent success in organizing new or expanding current locals; and

Whereas, the capacity of AFT-Oregon to continue expanding is limited by personnel and financial resources allocated to organizing; and

Whereas, membership across AFT-Oregon at our last convention was less than 60%; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon should allocate more resources to personnel and efforts dedicated to organizing and expanding locals; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will work with all locals to meet at least 75% membership rate; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will forward a similar resolution to the AFT-National Convention for consideration.

 

 

 

A Resolution In Support Of Increasing The Rights Of Part Time, Temporary, and Student Employees

 

Whereas, AFT-Oregon has approved past resolutions in support of access to family-medical leave to part time employees and food stamp benefits to part time student employees; and

Whereas, these benefits are still not realized for many temporary, part time, or student workers, including many AFT-Oregon members; and

Whereas, business and government jobs increasingly have relied on part-time employees increasing the number of workers ineligible for the basic benefits enjoyed by permanent full-time employees; and

            Whereas, unemployment benefits are also currently denied to student workers after they graduate, even if they were gainfully employed during their education; and

Whereas, people currently receiving unemployment benefits will lose their benefits if they return to school to gain new job skills creating a system where there is a financial disincentive to adapt to a changing economy; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will fight for legislation that will not unreasonably deny workers basic rights including but not limited to family-medical leave protection, food stamp benefits, and unemployment benefits, regardless of the term of their employment, the number of hours they work per week, or their status as students; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will work to reform unemployment benefits so people are not discouraged from taking classes or enrolling in school to better situate themselves for a new job in our changing economy; and

Be It Further Resolved, that AFT-Oregon will forward a similar resolution to the AFT National Convention for consideration.

 

 

Resolution to Develop an Excellence in Education Grant Program

 

Whereas, proponents of education reforms have embraced merit-based pay as a solution to our education system’s woes; and

Whereas, said proponents have castigated organized labor and teachers’ unions as an obstacle to the implementation of merit-based pay initiatives; and

Whereas, unions have rightly opposed merit-based pay as unfair, inequitable, and wasteful as well as discriminatory in their implementation; and

Whereas, tying salary to high-stakes, standardized test scores incentivizes cheating and promotes “teaching to the test” all of which undermine student achievement; and

Whereas, a 1994 study conducted by the Urban Institute found that “by and large, the school districts we examined did not succeed at implementing lasting, effective, monetary or non-monetary incentive plans that had a demonstrated ability to improve student learning” and found “little evidence from other research…that incentive programs (particularly pay-for-performance) had led to improved teacher performance and student achievement” (Hatry Harry P., Greiner, John M., Ashtoard, Brenda G. Issues and Case Studies in Teacher Incentive Plans, 2nd Edition. The Urban Institute Press. July, 1994); and

Whereas, funding for merit-pay systems often come from other essential items within education budgets leaving public schools starved for resources; and

Whereas, state and district programs have proved incompetent in developing programs to reward effective educators this should not prohibit fellow teachers from rewarding and celebrating their peers who have performed exceptionally well in their duties as educators; and

Whereas, AFT-Oregon believes educators must take the initiative in improving public education where legislators and administrators have fallen short; now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon establish an Excellence in Education Grant Program which would reward members, who have been selected by their peers, for demonstrating uncanny initiative and creativity in educating students; and

Be It Further Resolved, that to this end AFT-Oregon establish a committee which would create the criterion for the nomination process, determine the monetary amount of the grants, establish the number of grants to be awarded, and decide how the grants are to be allotted; and

Be It Further Resolved, that a similar resolution will be forwarded to the AFT national convention for consideration.

 

 

Resolution to Reinvest Corrections Money into Basic Education

 

Whereas, Gov. Kitzhaber has committed to preventing any increases in correctional spending in the next 2 years and avoiding $600 million in future spending over the next decade (The Governor’s Budget, http://www.oregon.gov/gov/priorities/pages/budget.aspx); and

Whereas, quality basic education has been shown to be a valuable investment with a substantial return rate (8:1) in saved public benefits costs, including but not limited to incarceration costs (Early Education as Economic Investment, National Conference of State Legislatures); and

Whereas, the return rate decreases significantly after schooling (pre-K–12); now

Therefore Be It Resolved, that AFT-Oregon lobby the Prison Reform Panel in the Oregon State Legislature to include investment in education as a strategy to reduce corrections spending in the next decade; and

Be It Further Resolved, that to this end AFT-Oregon lobby to include basic education of prisoners among the other incentives being offered in the “earned time” provision; and

Be It Further Resolved, that a similar resolution will be forwarded to the AFT national convention for consideration.