The American Federation of Teachers will open its annual convention Friday morning with a startling announcement: After years of strongly backing the Common Core, the union now plans to give its members grants to critique the academic standards — or to write replacement standards from scratch.
It’s a sign that teachers are frustrated and fed up — and they’re making their anger heard, loud and clear.
The AFT will also consider a resolution — drafted by its executive council — asserting that the promise of the Common Core has been corrupted by political manipulation, administrative bungling, corporate profiteering and an invalid scoring system designed to ensure huge numbers of kids fail the new math and language arts exams that will be rolled out next spring. An even more pointed resolution flat out opposing the standards will also likely come up for a vote.
Policy analysts see this weekend’s moves as an escalation — a stark signal that union opposition has switched into high gear, potentially threatening an initiative that both conservatives and liberals have supported for years and that has become one of President Barack Obama’s key education priorities.
Simon writes that the AFT convention may also consider a "Dump Duncan" resolution now that the NEA has passed one and that Weingarten will set the tone of the convention by starting the festivities off with "a speech passing harsh judgment on Duncan."
Dunno about you, but I remain skeptical about this so-called change in tone and "escalation" of "union opposition."
Remember, Weingarten just stood with Secretary of Education Privatization Arne Duncan this week as part of his "Education Excellence Equity Project."
As in, literally stood with him - and when asked if the AFT would join the NEA in condemning Duncan and calling for his ouster, Weingarten demurred, saying she "understood the sentiment," but stopped short of saying the AFT would join the NEA in its call for Duncan's firing.
Clearly in the days since, the AFT leadership has taken the temperature of the AFT rank-and-file and decided this is not the year to trot out Bill Gates to sell Common Core and teacher evaluations, as they did a few years ago (including exhorting members to jeer other AFT rank-and-file who walked out of the convention in protest over Gates' invitation to speak.)
So we're getting some words out of the AFT convention that are made to fool us into thinking the AFT leadership is ready to escalate their opposition to the Obama administration's education reform agenda, the Common Core standards, the tests that go with them, etc.
But I've been around Randi Weingarten, Leo Casey et al. for 14 years now, first as a UFT member when they were running the NYC local, and now as an AFT member as they run the national union, and the one thing I can tell you is, watch what they do, not what they say.
Weingarten's standing with Arne Duncan earlier this week as he trotted out another teacher bashing initiative that utilizes the rhetoric of the corporate education reform movement to further weaken teacher professionalism, work protections and autonomy in the name of putting an "effective" teacher into every classroom is more telling than whatever jive ass bullshit she spews in L.A.
Had this "escalation" in "union opposition" to the Obama administration's education reform agenda and the Obama administration figure most prominent in pushing it been honest and true, Randi Weingarten wouldn't have stood with him as he put out another reform agenda proposal just four days before she was to unleash "a speech passing harsh judgment on Duncan."
The leaders of the AFT, like the leaders of the UFT, play fast and loose with the truth all the time and the best policy when dealing with them is to remain skeptical when they trot out a new tone and promises of fighting against the ravages of corporate education reform and say "Okay, how are they bullshitting me now?"
Because you can be certain that's what they're doing.
Still, to end on a positive note, the one thing that is important to take away from this is, even Randi Weingarten and the AFT leadership realize defending compromise with the corporate deformers and their education reform agenda won't fly anymore.
We are a long way from 2010 when Weingarten brought AFT rank-and-file this dog-and-pony show: