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Union Locals Join To Encourage Parent-School Ties

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The United Federation of Teachers in New York City is launching what officials are calling the first "union to union" initiative to encourage parental involvement in schools.

At the annual spring conference of the American Federation of Teachers affiliate late last week, President Sandra Feldman was scheduled to announce that the uft will join with two other union locals in New York to help members who are parents learn more about participating in their children's education.

"There is only one group of people more important to our students than their teachers--and that is their parents," Ms. Feldman, who is also vice president of the aft, said in remarks prepared for delivery at the April 28 gathering.

Also participating in the parental-involvement program are the New York City Drug, Hospital, and Health Care Employees Union, which has an estimated 80,000 members, and the local International Ladies Garment Workers Union, with an estimated 28,000 members.

The Central Labor Council, an umbrella organization for labor locals in New York City, will also participate, according to Neill S. Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the uft

Under the plan, uft officials will conduct workshops for parents at various workplaces on how to support the education of their children and on how to get involved in school activities.

Noting that many of the unions' members are immigrants, Mr. Rosenfeld said the workshops will be offered in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Chinese, and Haitian Creole, as well as in English.

In addition, the teachers' union will offer training to teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, and other uft members to learn how to work more effectively with parents and with parent groups.

The unions also plan to publish information on the issue in their various publications, and the uft plans to distribute a parental involvement guide book, which will offer advice in both English and Spanish.

The program's goal, Ms. Feldman said in her statement, is "to encourage meaningful, constructive involvement of all parents, not just union members."

"Without the real school improvement, which requires parental involvement, our schools will not be able to build and maintain the support they need to keep them viable," she added.--lj

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