WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons on DCPS Teacher Vaccine Mandate

WASHINGTON—Statement by Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, on the new mandate requiring District of Columbia Public School teachers and other school staff to be vaccinated or be regularly tested at the city’s expense and with no penalty for taking time off to be tested:

“The get-vaccinated-or-be-tested mandate is the right protocol for DCPS educators and school staff, though most already have been vaccinated. Now that we’ll be back in school buildings, it’s important for educators to be healthy so they can provide in-person instruction to students five days a week. We also strongly urge all children 12 years and older and their families to get vaccinated. The Delta variant has thrown us a curveball, and we need to do everything we can to keep our school community protected.

“The vaccine policy, as we understand it, will ensure that no employee is subject to discipline as long as they either are fully vaccinated or submit weekly test results. Testing will be available in the workplace or can be done during work hours for employees who need it.

“While we support this policy, the WTU has a right to bargain with the school district over vaccination policies and how they will be implemented, now and in the future. We disagree with the city’s claim that this policy is not subject to bargaining, and we will not hesitate to enforce our bargaining rights if DCPS takes action that is not in the best interest of educators, students and the community.

“It’s been a long year and a half, and we can’t wait to see students and do everything we can to help them thrive in the new school year.”

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Re-Opening District of Columbia Public Schools

Council of the District of Columbia

Committee of the Whole Public Oversight Roundtable

Statement by Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President

Washington Teachers' Union

on the Re-Opening District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and District of Columbia Public Charter Schools (DCPCS) for School Year 2021-2022



Good afternoon. I am Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU).

Everyone is anxious for schools to reopen this fall. After more than a year of being away from our school buildings because of the public health pandemic, it’s imperative that students and teachers get back to school.

Our schools must fully reopen.

But my worst fear is that we fail to protect our youths and our community from the still-deadly coronavirus, especially with the surge of the Delta variant and the emerging Epsilon variant of the disease in our communities. We must ensure protections are in place to prevent students from being exposed and potentially carrying the disease back into their family.

And, we must also prevent disruptions to learning, including when a student is exposed to the virus and will be required to quarantine at home. This is hard on everyone – the student, their families, and our teachers – and it creates tremendous disruptions to learning and student mental health. The last thing that educators want to do is see a student sent home, or for a classroom or our schools close again.

Today, as I sit here before you, I do not believe that we have done enough to protect our students from the coronavirus. We can do more to help prevent exposure in our schools.


You can download and read the full statement here.



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FY22 Budget Testimony

Council of the District of Columbia

Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

June 3, 2021


Testimony of Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President

Washington Teachers’ Union - AFT Local 6


Good afternoon. I am Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU). I have taught in public schools across Washington, D.C. for twenty-eight years. My last teaching assignment was as a kindergarten teacher in Savoy Elementary. As president of the WTU, I am committed to fighting for social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia as well as the well-being of District teachers.

The last year has been trying for us all. Teachers were thrust into new learning environments, required to learn and adapt to new technologies on a dime with minimal training or preparation. With the suspension of the District’s seat time requirement, we’re seeing DCPS report strong attendance data; however, in many school communities teachers are reporting to the WTU that their classroom attendance is miniscule, whether their students are supposed to be attending in-person or virtually. We recognized that we will have a lot of work ahead of us.


You can download our full statement here.

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Read In for School Librarians

For Immediate Release

June 1, 2021 


Media Advisory

Educators and Parents to Rally for School Librarians

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Achievement gaps across the District of Columbia are stark and growing; we can expect gaps to have further increased due to COVID-19. Yet, DCPS school budgets continue to fall short of the need, forcing schools serving high percentages of at-risk students to eliminate instructional positions, including librarians, in their local school budgets.

WHO:    Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President, Washington Teachers’ Union

Zachery Parker, President, DC State Board of Education

Frazier O’Leary, Ward 4 Representative, DC State Board of Education

Allister Chang, Ward 2 Representative, DC State Board of Education

Jessica Sutter, Ward 6 Representative, DC State Board of Education

Suzanne Wells, President, Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization

Julius Jefferson, Jr., President, American Library Association

WHAT:   Read In to Save School Libraries and increase investment in Literacy programming in the District’s FY2022 Budget

WHEN:   Wednesday, June 2 at 4:00 pm

WHERE:  John A. Wilson Building (Front Steps)

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20004


As Council of the District of Columbia considers Mayor Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget, the Washington Teachers’ Union is calling for increased investments in school communities to reduce the District’s achievement gaps by reducing class size, implementing co-teacher and collaborative teaching models, and ensuring there is a librarian in every school. To draw attention to the need to invest in well-rounded literacy programming, school librarians and other educators will be reading to students on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building.

Librarians partner with classroom teachers to provide equitable access to reading materials and co-teach resource-rich literacy. When schools have high-quality library programs and librarians who share their expertise with the entire school community, student achievement gets a boost. Librarians also close the Information Literacy Gap with high school students. The event is supported by District of Columbia Library Association, EveryLibrary, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and the American Library Association.


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The Media Advisory is available for download here.

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Testimony - Special Committee on Pandemic Recovery

Council of the District of Columbia

Special Committee on COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery


Joint Public Hearing on the District’s Public Education System as it Emerges from the Public Health Emergency


May 26, 2021


Testimony of Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President

Washington Teachers’ Union

AFT Local 6


Good afternoon. I am Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU). I’d like to thank the Council, educators and the broader community for the outpouring of support that myself and the WTU received following the passing of President Elizabeth Davis earlier this year. As you know, Liz was a tireless and passionate advocate for our city’s educators and its students. As I appear before you today, I want to stress that her legacy of fighting for social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia will continue under my leadership of the Washington Teachers’ Union.

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DC Educator Wellness Center

In partnership with EVERFI, a social impact educational technology company, the WTU is pleased to announce the launch of the DC Educator Wellness Center. The funding for the DC Educator Wellness Center is provided by Johnson & Johnson.

In the DC Educator Wellness Center DC Educators will find access to a prevention-forward, self-guided, digital microlearning experience designed to provide you with on-demand content related to mental health. The growing list of topics includes Mental Health Basics, Managing Mental Health Challenges, Developing Resilience, Supporting Loved Ones With Mental Health Challenges, and Mindful Living.


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AFT & WTU Presidents Review Health Protections; Call on DCPS to Reverse Decision to Cut Staffing in Schools

For Immediate Release   


AFT and WTU Presidents Review Health Protections for DC Students & Teachers

Call on DC Public Schools to Reverse Decision to Cut Staffing in at Least 36 Schools


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The presidents of the American Federation of Teachers and the Washington Teachers’ Union toured McKinley Technology High School today with District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee and McKinley parent leaders to showcase the work accomplished to reopen safely to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The leaders also expressed dismay over proposed budget and staff cuts.

“Trust is built through hard work and I know that many across D.C. can learn from the hard work that the McKinley Tech and other communities have put in by working together to make our school buildings safe for teachers and students,” WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons said. “We must recognize that we are still in a pandemic and that many, including nearly all of our students, will not be vaccinated when our schools are fully open. We must continue our work to ensure our facilities are safe.”

In the coming days, Mayor Bowser is expected to release her FY2022 (School Year 2021-22) budget. While the Mayor is expected to increase education spending by 3.6% per student, at least 36 schools are facing staffing cuts as students return to in-person learning.

“I hope Mayor Bowser and Chancellor Ferebee are working to close the gaps in our school budgets,” Pogue Lyons added. “Our city has persistent and growing achievement gaps. It is not enough to do more of the same. We must tackle the structural inequities in our system. No student should be returning to a school that has less after the pandemic.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten urged investment in schools over cuts.

"As we continue to expand in-person learning in the District during this pandemic, it’s important to lift up examples of places that are getting all aspects and complexities right, including student engagement, collaboration and the safety guardrails, like McKinley Tech,” Weingarten said. “It comes down to relationships and resources and while the District has worked with the union in constructive ways to make in-person learning a reality, talk of budget cuts is deeply alarming. We’ll need more staff to meet the social, emotional and academic needs of kids, not less. After this difficult year, we need to keep working together on solutions, not cuts."

Today’s facility tour was a part of the WTU’s efforts to ensure the continued safety of our school buildings for students and staff. The WTU and DCPS have established a “Situation Room” to address any concerns raised by educators or community members. The WTU asks anyone who believes a school building is out of compliance with established safety protocols to complete our Reporting Form at: http://bit.ly/WTUSafeOpenings.


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The WTU represents more than 5,000 active and retired teachers. It is dedicated to social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia and to improving the quality of support, resources, compensation and working conditions for the public servants and proud teachers who educate our students in D.C. Public Schools.


The full release is available for download here.

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