There is, however, an important tragedy at the heart of this story. We have much to lose. Those who refuse—including inspectors general responsible for independently monitoring government agencies—are being pushed out and replaced with Trump loyalists. They may ultimately lose particular political battles, but their resistance slows democratic erosion. The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the second largest teacher's labor union in America (the largest being the National Education Association). In a 2019 survey by Public Agenda, 39 percent of Americans said they believed our democracy is “in crisis,” while another 42 percent said it faces “serious challenges.” Only 15 percent said American democracy is “doing well.”1, Democratic backsliding in the United States is no longer a matter of speculative concern. These institutions may therefore weaken Republicans’ incentive to adapt. The last two Republican presidents came to office despite having lost the popular vote—and it could easily happen again in 2020. Since African Americans represented a majority or near-majority in most post-Confederate states, their enfranchisement imperiled Southern Democrats’ political dominance—and potentially threatened the entire racial order. They are what prevent healthy political competition from spiraling into the kind of partisan fight to the death that wrecked democracies in Europe in the 1930s and South America in the 1960s and 1970s. A 1999 survey found that 85 percent of Americans believed it was the main reason why our democracy has been so successful.7. Constitutional hardball became the norm. Nearly all the most prominent democratic breakdowns across history (from Spain and Germany in the 1930s to Chile in the 1970s to Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela in the early 2000s) have occurred amid extreme polarization. 3 (2019): 20-32, https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles/polarization-versus-democrac... Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016 (Pew Research Center, June 22, 2016): https://www.people-press.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/06/06-22-16..., 1. 79.3% White; 9.3% Hispanic; 6.7% Black; 2.1% Asian… Why the American Federation of Teachers endorses Joe Biden for President of the United States. Or consider what Congress has the constitutional authority to do. HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. In Changing U.S. Electorate, Race and Education Remain Stark Dividing Lines (Pew Research Center, June 2020): https://www.people-press.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2020/06/PP_2020..... Partisan minority rule is bad enough, but it has an even more dangerous corollary. History offers numerous examples of how fear of losing leads parties to subvert democracy. www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/562246/how-democracies-die-by-steven-le... https://www.publicagenda.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Strengthening_De... https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/FIW_2020_REPORT_BOO... https://www.v-dem.net/media/filer_public/f0/5d/f05d46d8-626f-4b20-8e4e-5... https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index, https://freedomhouse.org/countries/freedom-world/scores. He served in this role until his death on February 22, 1997. In 1957, the AFT expelled all locals that refused to desegregate. , Since 1977, AFT has published a quarterly magazine for teachers covering various issues about children and education called American Educator. These articles on saving our democracy explore the polarization and disinformation that are tearing us apart—and offer hope for a better America. In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fear that the Trump administration is shockingly using the US Postal Service to make it harder to vote and to shape the results of the 2020 presidential election is only the latest instance of this phenomenon. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do. P. Starr, “The Anti-Entrenchment Agenda,” American Prospect, June 26, 2019, https://prospect.org/justice/anti-entrenchment-agenda/; and P. Starr, Entrenchment: Wealth, Power, and the Constitution of Democratic Societies (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2019). E. Posner, The Demagogue’s Playbook: The Battle for American Democracy From the Founders to Trump, (New York: St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2020). The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Louisiana as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2012-2013. Y. Mounk and R. Stephan Foa, “This Is How Democracy Dies,” Atlantic, January 29, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/confidence-democracy-l.... During the first three quarters of the 20th century, there were no impeachments or successful instances of Court packing. B. Highton, “Voter Identification Laws and Turnout in the United States,” Annual Review of Political Science 20, no. It was formed in 1916 as an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor (see AFL–CIO).Through collective bargaining and teachers’ strikes, it has obtained for its members better wages, pensions, sick leaves, academic freedom, and other benefits. The Electoral College permitted Donald Trump’s election (and may permit his reelection), while the Senate enabled his egregious abuse of power. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/10/20/georgias-e... https://www.ajc.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/voter-purge-begs... https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/confidence-democracy-l... https://prospect.org/justice/anti-entrenchment-agenda/; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/07/12/in-about-20-y... https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/Coronavirus%20... https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/2020_04_5State... https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/opinion/coronavirus-2020-election.html. First, the civil rights movement led to a massive migration of Southern white people from the Democrats to the Republicans, while African Americans—newly enfranchised in the South—became overwhelmingly Democratic. D. Schleifer and A. Diep, Strengthening Democracy: What Do Americans Think?  In 2015, four California teachers sued AFT and its California unit, the California Federation of Teachers, over the use of member dues for political activities. Levitsky and Ziblatt coauthored How Democracies Die in 2018. In other words, we do not treat our rivals as enemies. In a Monday letter to congressional leaders, hundreds of organizations—including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association—say that these and … , Edward J. McElroy, the AFT's secretary-treasurer since 1992, was elected president of the AFT in 2004, replacing Feldman. American Federation of Teachers Reviews. M. Svolik, “Polarization versus Democracy,” Journal of Democracy 30, no. 6. Some polarization is normal—even healthy—for democracy. US Const. By Eric H. Holder, Jr. Safeguarding Knowledge As recent research by political scientist Milan W. Svolik shows, when societies are highly polarized, we become more willing to tolerate undemocratic behavior by our own side.13 When politics is so polarized that we view a victory by our partisan rivals as something that is catastrophic or beyond the pale, we begin to justify using extraordinary means—such as violence, election fraud, and coups—to prevent it. ", This page was last edited on 20 October 2020, at 21:56. These fears, moreover, have fueled a troubling development that threatens our democracy: a growing Republican aversion to losing elections. Malign neglect is an insidious form of constitutional hardball. The strength of America’s opposition was made manifest in the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, and it makes Trump’s defeat in November 2020 a real possibility. Who doesn't love being #1? And these are made worse by a crisis of politics, in which science is questioned and democratic norms are disregarded. 0 Million – Americans age 6+ - played golf – both on-course and off-course – in 2019. Demographic Trends. It lost them in the run-up to the Civil War, and they remained weak through the late 19th century.  In 2014, Weingarten announced that AFT was ending a five-year funding relationship between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the AFT Innovation Fund. Born of Student Protest , Sandra Feldman served as AFT's president from 1997 to 2004. In the first half of the 20th century in America, it was not fun to be an educator. Viewing Black people’s enfranchisement as an existential threat, Southern Democrats played dirty. M. Tushnet, “Constitutional Hardball,” Georgetown University Law Center (2004): https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1557&.... Second Edition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 121-122. , By the late 1940s, AFT was slowly moving toward collective bargaining as an official policy. This demographic transition has become politically explosive because America’s racial and cultural differences now map almost perfectly onto the two major parties. The AFT and TES invested $10 million to develop the site. Consider the following facts: These instances offer a glimpse into life under partisan minority rule. When the referees work for the incumbent, the political playing field is inevitably tilted, subverting democratic competition. In 2017–18, a higher percentage of private school teachers than of traditional public school teachers were White (85 vs. 80 percent), and both percentages were higher than the percentage of public charter school teachers who were White (68 percent). 3. Since the 1960s, Americans have taken important steps toward the creation of something few societies have achieved: a truly multiracial democracy. When it comes to race, America’s teachers look very different from its student population. Population trends—the gradual depopulation of rural areas—are exacerbating the problem. J. Kousser, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South, 1880-1910 (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1974). The growing diversity of the American electorate has made it harder for the Republican Party to win national majorities. President Obama responded with constitutional hardball of his own. In 20 years, 70 percent of the US population will be living in 16 states, which means that 30 percent of the country will control 68 percent of the Senate.24. Since 1866, every time a president had an opportunity to fill a Court vacancy before the election of his successor, he had been allowed to do so (though not always on the first try). them—including demographic information, their attitudes about the No Child Left Behind Act, their impressions about how to improve American education, their perceptions about a wide range of teacher-related issues, and their future plans. Trump has attacked the media, trampled on congressional oversight, and sought foreign intervention into our elections. Asked by Wiki User. Prominent techniques in the autocrat’s playbook are out of President Trump’s reach: he cannot cancel the election, bar his rival from running, or steal it via outright fraud.  According to Department of Labor filings, Weingarten earned nearly $560,000 in total compensation during the 2013-2014 school year. It represents 1.3 million public sector employees and retirees, including health care workers, corrections officers, sanitation workers, police officers, firefighters, and childcare providers. In a context of extreme polarization, Republicans who confronted the party’s radicalized base, such as Jeff Flake, saw their political careers derailed. Maintaining our traditional voting system—one that has worked in the past—doesn’t seem very authoritarian.  The AFT has, since its founding, affiliated with trade union federations: until 1955 the American Federation of Labor, and now the AFL–CIO. By Ty-Ron M.O. Unfortunately, the White House has publicly opposed efforts to expand vote-by-mail options, and in many states, the Republican Party challenged such initiatives in court.25. The Republicans, by contrast, remain overwhelmingly white and Christian.16. And surveys and anecdotal information show that teachers of color can feel the sting of bias in schools as easily as minority students in mostly white educational environments.  During his tenure as AFT president, Shanker was jailed twice for leading illegal strikes. Trump’s reelection would accelerate the destructive trends we have seen over the past four years: the erosion of democratic norms, the abandonment of established democratic practice, a sustained assault on the rule of law, and further entrenchment of partisan minority rule. As we saw in Wisconsin in April 2020, the result will be long lines, which will deter voters who lack the time, have difficulty standing for hours, or fear contagion. Preparing for Racial Unrest on Campus It was only after the Republicans abandoned Reconstruction—enabling the Democrats to establish Jim Crow in the South—that Democrats ceased to view their rivals as an existential threat and two parties began to peacefully coexist, allowing norms of mutual toleration and forbearance to emerge. 14. Their time horizons shorten. Partisan rivals came to view one another as such an existential threat that they chose to subvert democracy rather than accept victory by the other side. T. Enamorado, “Georgia’s ‘Exact Match’ Law Could Potentially Harm Many Eligible Voters,” Washington Post, October 20, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/10/20/georgias-e.... The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare, and public services for our students, their families and our communities. In other words, it was only after racial equality was removed from the agenda, restricting America’s political community to white people, that these norms took hold. N. Kalmoe and L. Mason, “Lethal Mass Partisanship: Prevalence, Correlates, & Electoral Contingencies,” (Paper prepared for NCAPSA American Politics Meeting, Washington, DC, January 2019): https://www.dannyhayes.org/uploads/6/9/8/5/69858539/kalmoe___mason_ncaps..., 19. That is exactly what has happened over the last decade.  It filed an amicus brief in the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education. Politicians who lose elections must be willing to accept defeat, go home, and get ready to play again the next day. They were the CEOs, the newscasters, and most of the leading celebrities and scientific authorities. For most of American history, the rural bias inherent in the political system had little partisan effect, because the major parties had urban and rural wings. Photographs and illustrations, as well as text, cannot be used without permission from the AFT. Whereas the Democratic base is diverse and expanding, the Republican Party represents a once-dominant majority in numerical and status decline. “Countries and Territories: Global Freedom Scores,” Freedom House, June 2020, https://freedomhouse.org/countries/freedom-world/scores. Many polling station volunteers, who are typically older Americans, also will understandably choose to stay home, which could force a dramatic reduction in the number of polling stations. The GOP is showing signs of a similar panic today. Since 2010, a dozen Republican-led states have adopted new laws making it more difficult to register or to vote.19 Republican state and local governments have closed polling places in predominantly African American neighborhoods, purged voter rolls, and created new obstacles to registration and voting. The failure of party gatekeeping and congressional oversight leaves us with one final institutional check: the November 2020 elections. Federalism remains robust. As COVID-19 devastates our communities, it’s clear that we face far more than a health crisis. Another difference is that whereas autocrats in Russia, Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela steamrolled a weak opposition, America has a well-organized, well-financed, electorally viable opposition. In 2018, people aged 18 to 29 voted Democrat by a more than 2 to 1 margin, and those in their 30s voted nearly 60 percent Democrat. "For Education and Employment: The American Federation of Teachers and Academic Freedom, 1926–1941. Paraprofessionals & school-related personnel. Demography is not destiny, but as California Republicans learned after adopting a hardline anti-immigrant stance in the 1990s,18 it can punish parties that resist societal change. Nearly half of Democratic voters are nonwhite. Likewise, Republican efforts to tilt the electoral playing field via gerrymandering, purging of voter rolls, and new obstacles to registration and voting have been largely upheld by the Supreme Court. Legal scholar Mark Tushnet calls such behavior “constitutional hardball.”9 If you examine any failing or failed democracy, you will find an abundance of constitutional hardball: examples include Spain and Germany in the 1930s, Chile in the 1970s, and contemporary Hungary, Venezuela, and Turkey. What are the racial demographics of teachers? Consider this: the COVID-19 pandemic will in all likelihood persist into the election season. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially … Three major changes have occurred over the last half-century. By Randi Weingarten. Americans watch with growing unease as our political system threatens to go off the rails: costly government shutdowns, stolen Supreme Court seats, impeachments, mounting concerns about the fairness of elections, and, of course, the election of a presidential candidate who had condoned violence at rallies and threatened to lock up his rival, and who, as president, has begun to subvert the rule of law by defying congressional oversight and corrupting law enforcement agencies to protect his political allies and investigate his opponents. The charter revocations represented nearly a third of the union's national membership.. It has begun. That is precisely what the US Constitution was designed to do, and for most of our history, it has succeeded. This was not the case in the past. Consider what the US president is constitutionally able to do: The president can legally pardon whomever she wants, whenever she wants. The shortage … By the end of the 1970s, collective bargaining agreements covered 72% of public school teachers. The 1960s and 1970s also saw numerous teacher strikes, including 1,000 strikes involving more than 823,000 teachers between 1960 and 1974. art. But to do nothing at a time when a pandemic threatens citizens’ ability to vote, potentially affecting the outcome of a presidential election, would be an act of malign neglect—and potentially the biggest subversion of American democracy since Jim Crow. , In 2020, the union along with the National Education Association issued a report expressing opposition to active shooter drills being held in schools, calling on the drills to be revised or eliminated. Wherever the virus exists, the risks of in-person voting will lead many Americans to forgo voting altogether. Republican leaders like Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump told their followers that President Obama did not love America and that Obama and the Democrats weren’t real Americans. In 1998, the membership of the NEA rejected a proposed merger with AFT. America’s botched, slow-moving response to the COVID-19 pandemic is only the latest and most lethal symptom of a political system that has been run aground by polarization. First, as we argued in How Democracies Die, Republican leaders abdicated their democratic gatekeeping responsibilities by allowing a would-be authoritarian to win their presidential nomination and then working to get him elected. What we are experiencing today is not traditional liberal-conservative polarization. 2. To be sure, minority rule has a deep history in America.  In 1918, the AFT called for equal pay for African-American teachers, the election of African Americans to local school boards and compulsory school attendance for African-American children. , In 2012, AFT partnered with Britain's TES Connect to create a curriculum sharing website called Share My Lesson. Barack Obama’s presidency—barely a generation after the end of Jim Crow—was an unmistakable sign of our democratic progress. American Federation of Teachers State Federation : Massachusetts / Boston, MA: 22,162: American Federation of Teachers Local 2334: Professional Staff Congress/cuny / New York, NY: 21,228 » See All Locals and Other Affiliated Organizations. And nothing compels change like electoral defeat. In a 1960 survey, 4 percent of Democrats and 5 percent of Republicans said they would be displeased if their child married someone from the other party. The Democrats represent a rainbow coalition that includes urban and educated white voters and people of color. For more than a century, then, America’s system of checks and balances worked. According to a report by the Center for the Future of Democracy, the percentage of Americans who say they are dissatisfied with their democracy has more than doubled over the last two decades, from less than 25 percent in 2000 to 55 percent today.22. Congress can shut down the government by refusing to fund it. As of 2017–18, the enrollment figures for the district are: Total students: 55,332. The demographic composition of Philadelphia teachers is even more out of sync with ... Barbara Goodman, communications director for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Pennsylvania, said that this is symptomatic of a broader teacher shortage, especially among minorities. In Georgia, for example, a 2017 “exact match law” allowed authorities to throw out voter registration forms whose information did not “exactly match” existing records. Electing a demagogue is always dangerous, but it does not condemn a country to democratic breakdown. Our democratic norms were erected by and for a political community that was overwhelmingly white and Christian—and which forcibly excluded millions of African Americans in the South. Recall that the stability of modern American democracy rested, to a significant extent, on racial exclusion. 18. 13. American society has transformed dramatically over the last half-century. America's Ongoing Struggle with Our Most Basic Right Between 1885 and 1908, all 11 post-Confederate states passed laws establishing poll taxes, literacy tests, property and residency requirements, and other measures aimed at stripping African Americans of their voting rights—and locking in Democratic Party dominance.17 These measures, together with a monstrous campaign of anti-Black violence, did what they were intended to do: Black voter turnout in the South fell from 61 percent in 1880 to just 2 percent in 1912. This resulted in the loss of over 7,000 members. The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. Sign up for email updates: Sign Up And third, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the early 1980s, white evangelical Christians flocked to the Republicans. P. Bump, “In About 20 Years, Half the Population Will Live in Eight States,” Washington Post, July 12, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/07/12/in-about-20-y.... (One German Conservative leader called full and equal suffrage among men an “attack on the laws of civilization.”) So German conservatives played dirty, engaging in rampant election manipulation and outright repression through World War I. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially … In Europe before World War I, many traditional conservatives were haunted by the prospect of extending equal voting rights to the working class. Former VP Joe Biden held a virtual roundtable discussion with healthcare professionals to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting their lives at work and at home. When governments consistently fail to respond to citizens’ most pressing problems, citizens lose faith in the system. In July, the American Federation of Teachers, ... using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Indeed, Trump’s efforts to purge and corrupt government agencies closely mirrors those used by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to undermine his country’s democracy. America’s system of checks and balances, which often brings divided government, only works with a degree of mutual toleration and forbearance. Second, the United States experienced a massive wave of immigration, and most of these immigrants ended up in the Democratic Party. According to Freedom House’s ranking, the United States is now less democratic than Chile, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Taiwan, and Uruguay—and in the same category as newer democracies like Croatia, Greece, Mongolia, and Panama.5, The problems started long before 2016 and go deeper than Donald Trump’s presidency. In 1997, Shanker, then suffering from cancer that would eventually kill him, stepped down as AFT president in favor of Sandra Feldman, then the UFT president. About 95 percent of political donations from teachers unions have gone to Democrats. American Federation of Teachers Local 401 Records. When changing conditions make it impossible to practice democracy as we did in the past, like when a pandemic makes in-person voting dangerous, failing to act—failing to update our rules and procedures—can itself subvert democracy. American Federation of Teachers National Education Association: Website: schools.nyc.gov: 44-36 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101 (Sixth Floor) NYC Department of Education - Office of Pupil Transportation Headquarters.
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