May 07, 2008
We'd like to stop writing about Randi Weingarten, really we would. But her ongoing antics simply don't allow it--and as she nears the leadership of the national American Federation of Teachers she has to be taken seriously. Elizabeth Green reports in the New York Sun that Weingarten's United Federation of Teachers has no plans to compromise with hizzoner Michael Bloomberg, who wants the authority to remove from the payroll teachers who, well, don't teach. The educators in question, part of the Absent Teacher Reserve, are those whom no principal wants to hire, and sizable numbers of the reservists have simply stopped looking for jobs altogether. They are content to sit around, play cards or whatever, and receive a paycheck for it. Weingarten is apparently just fine with this. In a letter to the regrettable reservists, she wrote that "the UFT will not reopen the contract to negotiate any change in the terms and conditions of your employment." Furthermore, she suggested to the press that a significant proportion of reserve teachers are not idle but are actually working in schools. The city's deputy chancellor of education, Chris Cerf, dismissed Weingarten's claim out of hand: "I believe there is no possibility that her number is accurate." Cerf also called her musings a red herring, and he's right. The issue is not whether several reserve teachers out of many are truly working; the issue is whether the city can dismiss those teachers who aren't working--those who cannot find a teaching job (because no principal wants them) or who will not. Weingarten will do and say anything, it seems, to avoid dealing with this problem honestly. What does this portend for the AFT?
"Teachers Union Fights Effort To Stop Paying Reserve Pool," by Elizabeth Green, New York Sun, May 5, 2008