Episode 49: An AFT Perspective

The AFT, or American Federation of Teachers, is one of two large unions representing teachers and other school personnel. Early in our series, we were joined by Randi Weingarten, the well-known leader of the AFT. In this episode, we talk, in depth, with Fedrick C. Ingram, the AFT's Secretary-Treasurer, Fedrick C. Ingram.


More about this episode's guest:

9987674876?profile=RESIZE_400xFedrick C. Ingram is secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers, serving 1.7 million members, including pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Ingram is the immediate past president of the 140,000-member Florida Education Association (FEA). He also has served as an elected vice president of the AFT’s executive council, and as an AFT vice president for six years (2014-2020) before being elected as the AFT’s secretary-treasurer.

Since becoming secretary-treasurer in September 2020, Ingram has joined the executive committee of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department and the board of Union Plus, a member benefits organization founded by the AFL-CIO. On June 15, 2021, he was elected to chair the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees, a coalition of unions representing millions of professional and technical employees, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, actors and other highly trained workers.

Ingram grew up in inner-city Miami, where he attended public schools. Pursuing his love of music, he attended Bethune-Cookman University on scholarship and became the first member of his family to earn a postsecondary degree, in music education.

He would go on to be a music teacher and band director in Miami-Dade public schools for 10 years. Fed is also an accomplished musician in his own right and has performed throughout the state and nationally as a saxophone soloist and conductor. 

In 2006, he was named the Francisco R. Walker Miami-Dade County Teacher of the Year. He was also a finalist for the state of Florida Teacher of the Year Award in 2006.

In May 2013, he was elected president of the United Teachers of Dade, which represents employees of the fourth-largest school district in the nation. He held that post until 2015, when he was elected vice president of the FEA, where he became a bridge-builder and fearless advocate for public education, the joy of learning and the importance of the arts in education. In 2018, he won election as FEA president. Since then, he has been in frequent demand as a speaker, lecturer and presenter, and is recognized nationally for his workshops and presentations on community organizing and coalition building.

In May 2013, the Miami Herald’s Legacy magazine named Ingram as one of South Florida’s 50 most powerful black business leaders. He is also a recipient of the prestigious JM Family African-American Achievers Award, given to leaders who have exemplified excellence in their respective fields.

In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman, Ingram earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Barry University. He also holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters awarded by Florida Memorial University.

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Before the virus, more than a billion children and teenagers relied upon school for learning. After the virus (or, after the current wave of our current virus), basic assumptions about school and education are no longer reliable. School buildings may become unsafe for large numbers of students. The tax base may no longer support our current approach to school. Without the interaction provided by a formal school structure, students may follow their own curiosity. Many students now possess the technology to learn on their own. And many do not.

Reinventing.school is a new weekly web television series that considers what happens next week, next month, next school year, and the next five years. Hosted by University of Pennsylvania Senior Scholar Howard Blumenthal, Reinventing.school features interviews with teachers, principals, school district leadership, state and Federal government officials, ed-tech innovators, students, leading education professors, authors, realists and futurists from the United States and all over the world.

Each episode features 2-4 distinguished guests in conversation about high priority topics including, for example, the teaching of public health, long-term home schooling, technology access and its alternatives, the role of parents, friendship and social interaction, learning outside the curriculum, the future of testing and evaluation, interruption as part of the academic calendar, job security for teachers and support staff, setting (and rethinking) curriculum priorities, special needs, student perspectives on the job of school, the importance of play, the psychology of group dynamics and social interaction, preparing for future rounds of a virus (or cyberattack or impact of climate change, etc.), college readiness, higher education transformed, the higher education promise in an economically challenged world, and more. Clearly, there is much to discuss; nearly all of it ranks high on the list of priorities for raising the world’s children.