Thompson: AFT Moderates -- And Chicago Militants
Being an inner city teacher, I see standardized testing as the greatest threat to my students. But, Randi Weingarten represents teachers from across the nation, and for many of them, abusive observations by principals are a greater danger. And that is just one example of the tightrope that she navigates.
Reuter's James Kelleher, in his recent "Teacher Union Boss Bends to School Reform Winds," describes how Weingarten supports the New Haven teacher evaluation system which includes value-added. The union negotiated a system that minimized its potential harm and maximizes its benefits. Weingarten endorses it while adding, "Do I embrace every single aspect of that agreement? Is every single aspect of that agreement part of my particular belief system about how education should run? Of course not." Kelleher also reports that the AFT voted to support, "educators in hostile bargaining environment who are fighting to defend fair contracts and the right to bargain collectively." He then added, "That describes just about every AFT local in the country."
Even as 98% of AFT members voted as I would have and reelected Weingarten, it is clear that her moderation is not enough. As one Chicago leader explained,"We will not be heard at the table unless we are out there in the streets seen and heard fighting." And in Los Angeles, the UTLA nailed it when explaining why teachers should not participate in the planning for their system's evaluation system. It "strongly advises against volunteering for this high-stakes program in the current scapegoating environment." During the Obama second term, it seems inevitable, teachers will need to punch back. When teachers finally stand their ground, they can show that Weingarten has been a constructive collaborator with every "reform" that was remotely reasonable. Because of her skillful leadership, union should be able to persuade fair-minded outsiders that teachers had no choice but to fight back.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.