Saturday, January 8, 2011

LFT staffers attend planning meeting

AFT President Randi Weingarten

Braving bitter cold and dodging snow-challenged airports, members of the LFT staff are in Washington, D.C. this weekend, making plans to deal with attacks on public education that are cropping up across the United States.

In an opening session to the three-day meeting, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten laid out the challenges faced by teachers and their unions.

"We're not giving up," Weingarten told some 200 union activists from around the country. "We need to engage in constructive problem solving using all the means and power at our disposal."

The problems, she said, are big and very real. Attacks are mounting on teacher and school employee pensions and benefits, tenure and salary schedules. Especially after the last elections, conservative politicians are trying to privatize, voucherize and charterize schools in numerous states.

Louisiana has seen its share of attacks on public schools and the professionals who dedicate their lives to our children, LFT President Steve Monaghan said.

Monaghan is attending the conference, along with Legislative Director Alison Ocmand, Senior Organizer Mona Icamena, Paraprofessional and School Related Personnel coordinator Chrisandra Lee and Public Relations Director Les Landon.

Monaghan said the focus of the meeting is on forging coalitions that can build support for our schools in a political climate that is often unfriendly to public education.

Monaghan said teachers and school employees spend their professional careers building a better future for our children, and that we owe it to them to make sure they have decent salaries, adequate benefits and a pension that allows them to have a comfortable retirement after a lifetime of service.

Louisiana's 2011 regular legislative session will begin on April 25, and will close on June 23.

LFT Legislative Director Alison Ocmand, left, LFT President Steve Monaghan and AFT President Randi Weingarten.

LFT Legislative Director Alison Ocmand, left, President Steve Monaghan, PSRP Coordinator Chrisandra Lee and Senior Organizer Mona Icamena.

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