Under a microscope and a close eye, individuals are starting to examine higher education and take notice of not only how Louisiana schools are progressing but also how all of America is as well. On March 21, an American Federation of Teachers meeting was held at Grambling State University to discuss the state of education and educators.
Representatives from the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, the state’s AFT chapter, discussed the state’s school systems.
Primary speaker at the meeting was Alison Ocmand, who discussed proposed legislation that could affect all levels of education in Louisiana. The focus of the discussion was how these bills, if passed, would affect Grambling and other institutions.
Nakeila Polk, LFT representative and higher education organizer, stressed the issue of higher education and noted that the federation’s prime goal is to improve the school systems in the state.
"Louisiana and other states stress economic development, but there can be none without an educational one," Polk said. "We spend more money on incarceration than education."
Polk is passionate in her pursuit of a healthy education system. LFT wants to impact the students’ and teachers’ well-being, she noted.
Another issue brought to the floor at the meeting was member apathy. Polk said the problem is not communication, since information from the AFT is both mailed and e-mailed to each member. On Campus magazine and the Web site www.lft-aft.org are also used to educate the educators, yet both are often overlooked.
Some members said issues that directly affect them shouldn’t be presented in e-mails or newsletters, but with bold headlines to convey the full force of the issues.
Dr. June Ingram of the Speech and Theater Department said issues of importance should be clear and emphatic or they will be ignored.
"I have a Ph.D., but I don’t always need fancy lingo. Sometimes I need !!!@**## to catch my attention. Some members don’t even check e-mails."
Polk doesn’t take the excuses lightly. "We live in the 21st century. Computers are educational tools" and not taking advantage of the benefits they offer short-changes teachers and students, she said.
Another hot topic was the teacher retirement system. Dr. Martin Edu of the Mass Communication Department said TRSL members should be able to switch to a different retirement fund at any time without any losses. "We should be allowed more flexibility," he said.
For more information about Grambling’s LFT chapter, contact Charles Willie at (318) 274-3279. Polk also encouraged members to log on the Web site www.getactive.com for updated AFT information.