These two excerpts detail the AFT/corporate collaboration, including with Teach for America, in McDowell County, West Virginia which is being developed at the initiative of the AFT leadership.
This is an excerpt from Who is Eli Broad and why is he trying to destroy public education? located on this blog.
The Chicago teachers' strike in September, 2012, to which the AFT gave tepid financial and verbal support (not rallying locals nationally to support the CTU), ended on September 19th, 2012. On September 22nd, Weingarten joined Secretary of Education Duncan, who was on a bus tour through the Midwest, to promote Race to the Top as part of the President Obama's reelection campaign.
On the tour she joined Gayle Manchin, wife of West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, on a panel to discuss “how to build public-private partnerships to support educational improvement as the path to a brighter future.” Weingarten had praised this program as an example of business/labor collarboration at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in 2012. The state-run McDowell County, West Virginia school system and the AFT had created the philanthropy organization "Reconnecting McDowell” in 2011 to foster “collaboration between business, government and nonprofit organizations to establish programs that address the challenges faced by this community.” The AFT has given the fund millions of dollars from the dues of the AFT rank-and-file to this corporate organization. The AFT is now teaming with Teach for America and businesses (see the last part of this article) in McDowell County to build low income teacher housing for low income teachers.
This is an excerpt from the article Which Side Are You On? located on this blog.
At both the 2012 and 2014 Clinton Global Initiative conference, Randi Weingarten praised a program called “Reconnecting McDowell” in McDowell County, West Virginia. McDowell County in the 1950’s had a population of 100,000 and was a prominent coal mining community. Today its population is 25,000, most of whom are in severe poverty.Forty-six percent of children in the county do not live with a biological parent, according to the school district. Their mothers and fathers are in jail, are dead or have left them to be raised by relatives. 72% of its students come from economically distressed families.
This business project is using millions of dollars of union dues to create a few thousand low paying jobs in collaboration with the state and county. With “Reconnecting McDowell” the AFT has joined with about 100 businesses to invest in infrastructure projects in the county.
The AFT collaboration goes so far (see last few paragraphs) as to include support, through Reconnecting McDowell, for Teach for America teachers whom corporate education reformers have been using to replace laid off or departing teachers all over the country. This includes a Teacher Village for low income housing in McDowell County for the transient, low paid teacher force being created, the latest method by corporate education reformers to undermine teacher unions and lower educators’ living standards. What would Florence Reece and the coal miners in the 1930’s think of this? They could tell you a whole lot about how oppressive company housing is!
In 1931, as labor unrest was spreading under the gruesome conditions of the 1930’s worldwide economic depression, a song was written that became an anthem of the working people who were rising up against the living conditions they were living under. Which Side Are You On? was written by Florence Reece, the wife of a union organizer for the United Mine Workers in Harlan County, Kentucky. The UMW was waging bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners that came to be called the Harlan County War. Florence Reese and her children had been terrorized one night by the Harlan County police who had been hired by mine owners to search for her husband. After the ordeal she wrote the lyrics to Which Side Are You On? with the melody coming from a traditional Baptist hymn, “Lay the Lily Low”.