The challenge of dealing with unions: Albuquerque Teachers Federation pushes back against informing parents on academic progress

At the Rio Grande Foundation our position on education unions is nuanced. We generally oppose public sector unions, but blame the government-run monopoly for our educational woes. After reading this memo from the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, we may reconsider that position.

In the document which is written in response to a memo from the District (APS), the union attempts to thwart efforts to engage and inform parents in the educational process as relates to their children.

  • It starts off with a “bang” with the following statement by the union: “The memo indicates that parent communication must include “Access to the district’s standardized electronic grade book via ParentVue.”

ParentVue is clearly defined as one option for communicating with parents.

  • Another gem from the AFT follows: The memo states that “If students are in danger of failing, or not making adequate academic progress, teachers will proactively notify parents in time for early and appropriate intervention.” For high school teachers, this rule is a violation Article 5.L.4 of the APS-ATF Negotiated Agreement, which reads: “If a high school teacher anticipates that any student is failing at the end of the semester, they will be required to provide a list of all students who are at risk of failing a class one week prior to winter break so that the student(s) may be scheduled appropriately. The list is nonbinding and intended for planning purposes only.” 

While there is much more in the document, the final point we’ll focus on is:,

  • “Elementary educators must communicate students’ progress in core academic subjects to families weekly via the district electronic gradebook.” This is also in violation of Article 5.L.1, which reads (emphasis added): Teachers are responsible for evaluating student progress and interpreting grades or reports given. If a student is not assigned to a teacher, a professional staff member shall be responsible for the grade. 

A union pushing back against even basic attempts to codify ways in which parents will be informed of their child’s progress is unfortunate. Whether these are indeed “violations” of the APS contract is not our concern. Rather, the whole situation simply highlights how bureaucracies fail to keep the education of our children front and center. Instead it becomes a power struggle.

APS Logo — Albuquerque Public Schools