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Free Student Laptops Help Reconnect McDowell

Shentel Communictions photo

Every middle school student in McDowell County, W.Va.—nearly 900—was presented with a new free laptop last week as part of the initiative to improve education in an economically struggling county of underperforming schools, drug and alcohol abuse, housing shortages, limited medical services and inadequate access to technology and transportation. 

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Wise Words from Labor Movement Women

Wise Words from Labor Movement Women

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are four great quotes on working-class activism from activist women spanning the 19th to 21st centuries. Feel free to copy and share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and via other social media.   

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Teachers Want More Accountability for Charter Schools

Photo courtesy: Center for American Progress on Flickr

AFT and In the Public Interest launched a new website Thursday, Cashing in on Kids, to track charter schools and the private companies that often run them on a for-profit basis. The two groups argue that corporate-run charter schools are doing a bad job of serving students and that there is little accountability for these companies. In particular, the website will track K12 Inc., Academics, Imagine Schools, Charter Schools USA and White Hat Management.

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The Voters Couldn't Be More Clear: Raising Wages Is a Top Priority

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes

Voters in key 2014 battleground states made it clear in a new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates that raising wages, higher living standards and fair treatment are among their top priorities, and they want political leaders to do more on these issues. Nearly 60% of the surveyed voters from Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are unhappy with their state's economy. More than 90% said they are only keeping even economically or falling behind. More than 70% say that raising wages would be good for their state, despite claims that raising wages would increase prices or cost jobs. Gubernatorial candidates who say they want to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour would be more likely to be voted for by 61% of the voters surveyed, compared to only 23% who would be less likely to vote for such a candidate.

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Pittsburgh Teachers Union Provides 40,000 Books to Students

Pittsburgh Teachers Union Provides 40,000 Books to Students

On Saturday, Feb. 15, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (an affiliate of the AFT) will be distributing 40,000 free books for Pittsburgh Public School students as part of the First Book program. First Book is designed to provide access to new books for children in need. 

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Diane Ravitch and AFT's Randi Weingarten Dispel Education Reformer Myths

"We're close to a tipping point with public education, especially in big cities." That's the message that Diane Ravitch brought to Washington, D.C., last week in a series of meetings and public events with AFT President Randi Weingarten on reclaiming the promise of public education. Ravitch, a former education official in the George H.W. Bush administration, has become a staunch critic of education policies that began under former President George W. Bush and have continued under President Barack Obama.

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Higher Education Ratings System Would Further Disadvantage Institutions Serving Low-Income Students and People of Color

Higher Education Ratings System Would Further Disadvantage Institutions Serving Low-Income Students and People of Color

The Center for American Progress (CAP) recently released the outline of a proposal for the Obama administration’s plan to make college more affordable. The rating system it puts forth essentially amounts to a "Race to the Top" for postsecondary and higher education institutions, something school faculty and working families have been concerned about from the get-go. Race to the Top/No Child Left Behind has resulted in further defunding of public schools serving disadvantaged students while already better-resourced schools have been able to further their lead. This has widened the achievement and opportunity gaps between children of the working class and their more privileged peers from affluent families.

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Out of Work, But Not Out of Holiday Spirit

Northwest Labor Press photo

Several hundred boys, girls, tweens, teens and  toddlers whose parents are out of work found the holiday spirit of giving is alive and well in Portland, Ore. Last week the Northwest Oregon Labor Council and Labor’s Community Service Agency (LCSA) held their annual “Presents from Partners” holiday party for children of out-of-work union members.

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Santa Claus Comes to Town (If This Doesn't Make You Tear Up, Your Heart May Be Two Sizes Too Small)

They didn't expect to see Santa Claus at the picket line. But St. Nick is full of surprises. Yesterday, Santa Claus brought almost 1,000 presents for the families of nearly 800 locked-out nurses and health techs at Lawrence + Memorial (L+M) Hospital. 

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Monday Reading List

Photo via AustinEvan's Flickr photostream

Here are some stories we're reading at the AFL-CIO today we'd like to share with you. 

What are you reading? Leave a tip in the comments section. 

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