AFT National Charter School Advisory Group

Casey (right) with Richard O’Brien of the UFT Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff and Reagan Fletcher, a teacher at the Bronx Academy of Promise.

More than a dozen teacher-leaders from unionized charter schools across the country gathered at UFT headquarters for a three-day meeting of the AFT National Charter School Advisory Group. Teachers came from cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago to meet with colleagues and AFT and UFT staff and leaders at the March 18-20 event, one in a series of meetings called to develop school-based leaders and help set the course for the union’s national campaign to organize charter schools. After a Friday night reception — attended by UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Vice President for Academic High Schools Leo Casey, who also heads the local’s charter school organizing initiative — the teachers engaged in a series of discussions and workshops on topics like contract negotiations, in which they shared their varied experiences, and how to talk to nonunion charter teachers about the union. In a workshop on “Reframing the Debate: Ideas for Media Outreach,” the educators discussed the attacks on teachers and their unions so prevalent in the media and how to combat them, paying particular attention to the need to be proactive rather than reactive in establishing the terms of the debate. In another, on “Researching the Charter Industry Lobby,” they learned how to look up pertinent information on their schools, including financial records and personal information on school board members. In New York for a meeting of the AFT’s Program and Policy Council, presidents from a number of other AFT locals, including those in Detroit, Los Angeles and the U.S. Virgin Islands, also dropped in throughout the weekend. The group will next meet for the TEACH conference in Washington, D.C., in July.