Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, July 11, 2014

Is Randi Weingarten REALLY Getting The Message?

Stephanie Simon at Politico reports the AFT convention that opens today in L.A. is not going to be as reformer-friendly as in years past:

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:


  1. Randi will only get " the message" when she is booted out, if ever. Randi s ethically challenged.

    1. Agreed. This is a dog-and-pony show made to fool rank-and-file that they're caving on their CCSS support. They're not - there's too much money for Randi and the people around her to be made on it for the AFT to walk it back now.

  2. Boy are u right - Stephanie got this one wrong. I am at the press table in front of the AFT right now as it opens. Last night Randi's Progressive Caucus - natl version of Unity without the loyalty oath - voted down the Chicago anti-common core reso -- today Chicago and Unity will continue to fight it out in the closed committee room - but we'll be outside getting reports of the battle - Unity will use very tactic to keep the Chicago reso from coming to the floor. Anything militant you hear coming from the Randi wing is pure rhetoric. Yesteday a retired Unity former official asked me if I thought the leadership would match NEA on the Duncan issue and laughed. Even some of them are cynical.

    1. I've turned into you, Norm - "Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do..."

      What I saw Randi do on Monday was stand with Duncan.

  3. And who is footing the bill for the retired Unity official to attend the convention?
    Norm, would you ask him who paid his way? Bet I can guess who it is. Oh, is his wife there too?
    So cozy that Unity caucus.

    1. Unity caucus cronies enjoying booze, grub and lodging on our unions dues dime.

  4. For some background information on Ms. Weingarten, copied from Randi Weingarten on Wiki:

    Plagiarized speech
    A speech that Weingarten gave in 2011 turned out to have been plagiarized from a NY 1 series on a flawed Board of Education computer system.[85] “When a journalist, politician or student uses someone else's words without attribution in a speech or a paper, it's called plagiarism – and it's often enough to get a journalist fired, a politician embarrassed or a student kicked out of school,” commented NY1.[86]

    WTU conflict
    In 2010, the AFT and Weingarten specifically were charged with interfering in the local elections of the Washington Teachers Union (WTU). The elections had been scheduled for May but postponed because of a dispute over procedural questions. In August of that year, Weingarten imposed a deadline on WTU President George Parker to comply with an order "to hold a mid-September election for new officers and delegates, or the contest will be taken out of his hands and conducted by the national parent organization." Parker objected that Weingarten had no authority to interfere in this manner.[87] Weingarten ultimately took over the election.[88]

    1. Let's not forget her jetting into Baltimore when the local voted down a merit pay contract she had helped devise.

      Or the deal she made with Chris Cerf over the Teacher Data Reports in NYC and how they would never end up in the papers.

      Or the sell-outs in the '05 contract that created the ATR mess.

      Or the failure to put down an ideological alternative to the Bloomberg DOE's closure policies.