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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

AFT grants to WA help communities find local education solutions

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Wednesday, December 20, 2023   

The American Federation of Teachers is partnering with organizations around the country to promote community solutions to the issues education is facing.

The union's Powerful Partnerships Institute has provided $1 million in grants to 38 state and local affiliates, including the American Federation of Teachers-Washington, where they partnered with the Alliance for a Just Society to increase opportunities for students of color in community and technical colleges.

Fernando Mejia-Ledesma, project director for the Communities for Our Colleges Coalition, explained how the partnership can help.

"Students of color, immigrants, and really all the students that have historically disenfranchised, they cannot only navigate the system but also finish on time," Mejia-Ledesma pointed out. "Then when they finish, they can either transfer to a four-year college or get a good job that has really good wages and working conditions."

As part of the initiative, the federation and its partners are working to help more undocumented students get access to financial aid, improve pay equity for community and technical college faculty, and increase access to affordable housing and child care.

Karen Strickland, president of the American Federation of Teachers-Washington, said the people most affected by these issues are leading the charge.

"It's the workforce and it's the students who know where the biggest obstacles are, where the challenges are, where the needs are," Strickland observed. "That is what drives the coalition."

The union and the Communities for Our Colleges Coalition want the state to make community college accessible for everyone by making it tuition-free.

Mejia-Ledesma contended Washington is already moving in the right direction.

"The direction that we're taking right now is one of justice, one of equity," Mejia-Ledesma stressed. "We're going to continue pushing on that and we hope that we can continue being an example for the rest of the country."

Disclosure: The American Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers-Washington contribute to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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