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Cast Your Vote for the Meriden “Miracle”

SXSWedu is a four-day event that takes place in March, 2016 and features panel presentations, interactive workshops, hands-on learning experiences, film screenings, startup previews and networking opportunities. The conference has evolved since launching in 2011 to become a leading international source of professional development for teachers and education personnel from across the nation and around the globe. 
Click here to learn more about SXSWedu.
Conference organizers are relying on the results of public voting in their “panel picker” competition for 30% of the process to determine which presentations to include. That’s why union members, friends and family are encouraged to register online and vote for the Meriden “Miracle.”
It’s an opportunity to share how teachers and administrators in Meriden Public Schools have bucked the national “education reform” narrative and made progress through collaboration, not confrontation. Their common-sense approach is unfortunately rare in today’s blame and shame political environment and test and punish school climate — and is a model for the rest of the nation.
Members of our Meriden Federation of Teachers have over the past several years effectively implemented a number of initiatives by working in partnership with their administration. Notably they utilized resources from the AFT Innovation Fund and guidance from the National Center on Time & Learning (NCLT) to support expanded learning time efforts in their community’s schools.
Click here for our previous report on Meriden’s successful expanded learning time initiative.
Unlike many other similarly-challenged districts in Connecticut and across the country, administrators have resisted the top-down style of reform popular in this era of diminished local education budgets. Instead, they have engaged their teachers and classroom support personnel as partners in turbulent times that otherwise would have created chaos for students and their families.
Both AFT Connecticut and our national union have frequently touted the effectiveness of this alternative to confointational labor-management relations. Meriden Federation of Teachers President Erin Benham and district Superintendent Mark Benigni in 2013 jointly received the annual “Presidents Award” at our state convention in recognition of their efforts.
AFT President Randi Weingarten (pictured above with Meriden teachers and the governor) in 2013 and again last year visited the district as part of her annual national “back to school” tour. Both times she met with members to hear about their accomplishments in order to share them with union members and public education advocates across the country.
Click here for coverage of our Meriden union members’ success in AFT’s American Educator.
Click here for additional photos of Weingarten’s 2014 “back to school” visit to Connecticut.
The opportunity to present their story to an international audience at the 2016 SXSWedu conference will help further advance the kind of best practices deployed by union members in Meriden. Take a moment to vote — but hurry; the deadline for public input is September 4.
Click here to register for free and then vote for the Meriden “Miracle” today.

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