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Voting for democracy and a better life

In the leadup to the midterm elections, pundits predicted a red wave, even a tsunami, based on polls, historical precedent, and steep gas and grocery prices. But I had my doubts. I spent the weeks before the elections talking to voters and traveling on the AFT Votes bus, rolling through a dozen states with more than 50 stops. In a year when kitchen table issues, democracy and our freedoms were on the ballot, many people told me that the elections came down to a choice between, on the one side, election deniers and extremists stoking fear, and on the other, problem-solvers working to help the country move forward. Many races were close, but Americans turned the tide from a red wave to a swell of support for progress and problem-solvers. Read the full column here.

Sharing more pathways to student debt relief

As the landscape of student debt shifts, and more and more opportunities allow borrowers to have their debt relieved, the AFT is using every avenue to ensure that the word is out. In affiliate meetings, telephone town halls, media coverage and social media, the union is spreading the news, and at a student debt clinic at AFT headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 31, AFT President Randi Weingarten vowed to reach as many people as possible with information that could save them tens—and sometimes hundreds—of thousands of dollars.

Celebrating student loan relief

“It was like waking up and learning you won the lottery.” That’s just one of the comments flooding the AFT offices from members who are elated to be free of student debt at last. After relentless advocacy, including an AFT lawsuit against former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that was so broken is finally doing what it is supposed to do: delivering relief from student debt for thousands of borrowers. So far, $6.2 billion in student debt has been forgiven for 100,000 public service workers like teachers, nurses and professors.

AFT-W VP of Higher Education Jon Shelton Testifies Against "Critical Race Theory" Bill

AFT-W VP of Higher Education Jon Shelton has sent a letter to Reps. David Murphy and Dianne Hesselbein opposing A.B. 413. The October 7, 2021 letter reads in part: "this bill would not only do the opposite of what it proposes to do—prevent stereotyping based on race and gender—but it would also threaten the promise of academic freedom and the pursuit of truth that has made our system of public higher education one of the best in the nation." Reps. Murphy and Hesselbein are respectively the chair and ranking delegate of the Assembly's Committee on Colleges and Universities.

AFT-W President Kim Kohlhaas Testimony Against Bill Targeting Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Programs

In a September 17, 2021 letter to the Assembly Education Committee, AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas testified against Assembly Bill 562. "The bill would encourage parents to opt their children out of gender identity and sexual orientation programs in our public schools," she argued. "Any legislation that discourages open conversation and the inclusion and well-being of all students is dangerous."

Read the letter in full here. 
 

UWGB-United Hosts Back to School event for new faculty

UWGB-United hosted their first Back to School event for faculty and staff, where new hires could ask candid questions they may have been hesitant to raise at the official university orientation. Members shared their knowledge regarding having tough conversations in the classroom, why they are a proud union member, and much more!