Two recent articles—a puff piece in the New York Times and a self-penned op-ed in the Washington Post—have sought to clear the name of oft-demonized AFT leader Randi Weingarten. The Times
asserted that yes, she really truly does embrace reforms like
performance pay and improved teacher evaluations. Her own op-ed proffers
an olive branch to district leaders and offers to collaborate on
education reform. That’s all well and good, but actions still speak
louder than words. If she’s so pro-school reform, how come Weingarten
used every means at her disposal (lawsuits, a million bucks to defeat
Adrian Fenty) to fend off Michelle Rhee’s efforts to re-engineer teacher
pay and seniority? Moreover, as with Al Shanker in the old days, the
AFT’s state and local affiliates are free—and likely—to keep doing what
they always do: obstruct reform. Observe the recent Baltimore vote.
While Randi may not be the “foaming satanic beast” that Waiting for “Superman”
allegedly depicted her as, she is no fervent agent of change, either,
no matter what her new PR campaign would have you believe.
“Despite Image, Union Leader Backs School Change,” by Trip Gabriel, New York Times, October 15, 2010.
“Don’t scapegoat America’s teachers,” by Randi Weingarten, Washington Post, October 17, 2010.