AFSA President Ernest Logan Kicks Off AFSA Convention

“I was born an advocate and an activist and I’ll die an advocate and activist,” AFSA President Ernest Logan noted in his speech at the union’s 16th Triennial Constitutional convention. 

As American Federation of School Administrators president for four years—serving during the global COVID-19 pandemic—Logan said he had a lot to be thankful for. He highlighted his gratitude and admiration for the support of the General Executive Board (GEB) and his fellow officers, both of whom lost their beloved life partners in recent years but kept up the fight for union members.  

“Even in the days of their greatest sorrow, they never wavered in their devotion to you,” Logan said of Executive Vice President Len Pugliese and Secretary-Treasurer Lauran Waters-Cherry. 

A large part of Logan’s journey as president started by learning from Diann Woodard, Richard Trumka and Crystal Boling-Barton. He dedicated part of his speech to remembering and honoring them. His immediate predecessor, Woodard, was remembered by Logan as a “gentle but determined leader” who won the hearts of those across the union movement, and he noted AFSA had honored her with the establishment of The Diann Woodward AFSA Scholarship Program. Logan called late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka “a big, tough guy, with the kindest of instincts and a powerful sense of right and wrong,” and said Crystal Boling-Barton, who passed away just last month, was “one of the most important voices” on the GEB and “a feisty, strong union leader."

Logan thanked the union as a whole in addition to the named individuals. He emphasized strength in numbers throughout his convention opening remarks, using the force of the union for productivity and to battle any challenge. Fighting a mental health crisis, an explosion of violence in schools and the politicizing of education all during the pandemic is not an easy task for America’s school leaders. 

“Already some of you and your staffs are facing criticism and even punishment for admitting who you’re married to or for hiring too many people of color or for using textbooks that acknowledge the existence of slavery in America,” he said. 

To combat this, Logan continued to talk about the power of the union. “Without leadership from every one of you, think where this could go,” he said. He exhorted his listeners to “lead the way and be helped by the power of the union that you have behind you” to successfully preserve civil rights and collective bargaining rights and fight off threats to public education.

Logan highlighted several locals for their success in recruiting members, winning bargaining rights, protecting members against layoffs and working with local elected officials, including Local 1, the Council of School Supervisors & Administrators; Local 2, the Chicago Principals & Administrators Association; Local 3, the United Administrators of San Francisco; Local 134, Administrators Association San Diego City Schools; and Local 136, the Denver School Leaders Association, Local 136.  

The COVID-19 pandemic obviously posed personal and professional challenges for every single AFSA member.

“In districts where school leaders weren’t unionized, they weren’t protected and they weren’t compensated for the staggering amount of work they took on,” Logan said in introducing the myriad ways AFSA supported its members. 

Logan described school leaders’ superhuman role during the pandemic, as first responders and America’s heroes. AFSA provided virtual training and also launched the Task Force to Reopen Schools, led by Len Pugliese. Due to being unionized, the challenge of COVID was met with strength and solidarity. 

Logan closed with a call to continue organizing: “reach out and talk union.” He urged retirees—whom he called his "secret weapon," founders, fierce advocates and “the people who opened the doors so we could meet as a powerful national union today”—to get involved and stay involved. Logan also urged every member to consider running for elected office, pledging union members’ support.

He said he would continue as  AFSA’s liaison to the AFL-CIO and would continue to work with the “Permission to Dream” program to introduce students to careers in building trades and the automotive industry. 

Logan concluded by vowing to remain in the fight on every level. 

“How could I stop at a moment when social justice is under threat and we have a Supreme Court that is no friend of women’s rights, civil rights, the concept of separation of church and state, controls against climate change, and the freedom to be safe from guns. When those rights crumble, so does the right to a free and equal education. So, I am here for this struggle. And I am here until the struggle is over.”