By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Jefferson County-AFT, the local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced in a written statement that they have been awarded a $150,000 grant from the AFT Innovation Fund.
The President of the Jefferson County AFT, Vi Parramore said, “Our AFT Innovation Fund grant has enabled great teachers to extend their knowledge and expertise beyond the walls of their classrooms to the future generation of teachers.”
The local teachers union will work with the Jefferson County Board of Education, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, as well as the principals and staffs of Clay-Chalkville Middle and High School. The grant will fund work designed to help both student teachers at the university and current classroom teachers at the two schools write lesson plans and teach units in line with the new Common Core State Standards.
The grant, called “For Teachers, By Teachers,” will provide funding to support project director Ann Foster and stipends for a countywide group of expert teachers to write lesson plans in line with the controversial new Common Core Standards.
Alabama is one of 46 states who have voluntarily agreed to adopt the Obama Administration endorsed plans for American Schools. In theory, the Common Core Standards are designed to make sure that more American students leave high school with the skills to either enter college or the workforce.
UAB Assistant Professor Dr. Tonya Perry said, “This project, even in its infancy, has opened dialogue among the university, the school, and the district about curriculum development and the needed preparation for the next generation of teachers to meet the needs of the 21st century learners.” Dr. Perry is teaching one of her university classes at Clay-Chalkville High School. She thanked AFT for supporting the Common Core Standards and said that she was eager to start helping teachers implement the new standards.
The Obama administration has used Race to the Top money and promises of No Child Left Behind waivers to encourage states to adopt the new common core standards, which were endorsed by the Democrat Party in their 2012 platform.
Republican Presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney said on Tuesday, “ “I don’t subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push the Common Core onto various states. To financially reward states based on accepting the federal government’s idea of a curriculum is a mistake.” Romney warned, “There may be a time when the federal government has an agenda it wants to promote.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten started the AFT Innovation Fund in 2009. Since then it has made a total of 25 investments in groundbreaking work across the country. The grants have been used to support, state and local affiliates redesign teacher evaluation systems in both New York and Rhode Island; created a nonprofit organization to authorize charter schools in Minnesota; opened “in-district” charter schools in Texas; and more.
The AFT Innovation Fund receives support from the American Federation of Teachers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts.