National teachers union president visits La Joya

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POSTED: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 4:41pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 8:28am

The president of the American Federation of Teachers is in the Rio Grande Valley and visited a pair of La Joya schools on Wednesday.  

The AFT is a union that has 1.5 million members nationwide.  The La Joya chapter has nearly 2,000 members covering about 75 percent of the ISD workforce. 

AFT President Randi Weingarten said she came to La Joya to see how the ISD is coping in one of the poorest areas in the state. 

"I'm always hoping to learn about new practices and best practices and how how educators are helping children succeed," Weingarten said. "Particularly at risk children... so what are the practices that can be sustained and scaled up and used in other places."

La Joya ISD educates nearly 30,000 students. The State cut $5.4 billion in school spending in 2011. Some of the cuts have come back, and the AFT is fighting for all of it. 

"The issue is education funding," said J.J. Luna of the La Joya Federation of Teachers. "We want to make sure it is restored back to the level it was back in 2011... we want to make sure they fully restore education funding."

AFT officials hope to stop what they consider a fight against the public school system.  They say one of the battles in that fight come from public charter schools.

"This notion of undermining public education is wrong," Weingarten said. "This notion of trying to create a competitive model with charters… don't make charter schools compete with other schools."  

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