The AFT has announced that it is investing $1 million to prove its bona fides as an education reformer, making it possible for teachers in the union to "leverage 'top-down' support for 'bottom-up' reforms." In addition to its pledge, the union plans to ask philanthropic organizations to chip in.
The fund will focus on three major reform areas: programs designed to increase teacher quality, programs that occur out of school, and programs designed to increase collaboration between the local union and the community. Both "proven reforms"--ideas that AFT believes already work-- and "new (unproven) ventures" will be eligible for funding
The AFT is counting as proven reforms such ideas as school improvement zones, as have been tried in Miami-Dade and New York City and Toledo-esque teacher mentoring programs. Union-partnered charter schools, like the UFT schools in New York City, community schools, school-based teacher contracts and differentiated pay programs similar to Denver's ProComp are listed as examples of potential new ventures.