Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, and the go to person when the unions want to respond to any media coverage of the unfolding disaster of the nation’s public school system. As such, it’s surprising that the poor woman gets any sleep at all. Her current No Apologies tour in response to that recent Time Magazine Cover has kept her busier than a player on a king sized whack-a-mole game, and Weingarten showed up on Morning Joe for more of the same. They noted that her recent editorial stated:
Yes, there is a real problem facing America’s teaching profession, but it has nothing to do with tenure.
Scarborough and Willie Geist spent a fair amount of time attempting to get her to at least admit that tenure made it difficult to remove a bad teacher from their post. Alas, it was to no avail.
Joe Scarborough: It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher. And New York City is a perfect example of that. The rubber rooms that we had… with tenure it is nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher, is it not?
Randi Weingarten: Joe… this cover was a sucker punch to all teachers all across the country and that’s why..
JS: No. I don’t… you’re saying “all teachers.” In the title it says it’s nearly impossible to fire A BAD TEACHER.
RW: Give me… give me a minute…
JS: There are rotten apples in every profession including this one.
RW: Joe. Let’s talk about the fact that when you have a cover.. the article is balanced. I may not like a lot of it, but it’s balanced. But it actually says that the stuff David wants to do doesn’t actually work…
JS: It’s impossible to fire a bad teacher. A bad teacher…
Willie Geist: … Do you think the way it applies outside teaching should apply more clearly to teaching, which is to say that if you’re not very good at your job, it’s fair to say that it’s time to go?
RW: Absolutely. And frankly that’s why I started by saying we’ve been on the show talking about that. State after state, contract after contract, including New York City, has changed things. When we’ve seen excesses we’ve changed things because nobody wants bad teachers.
The MoJo crew must have been working overtime to prepare for this interview because, at this point, a graphic flashed on the screen obscuring Weingarten’s face reading that from 1997 to 2007 a grand total of 12 teachers were “Dismissed for Incompetence”
Amazingly, the guys could not get her off of her stated position where she insists that when problems are found with teachers, action is taken. And while several spirited attempts were made, they never even got her to utter the world “tenure” again for the rest of the interview.
The graphic which was displayed during the interview was almost certainly making reference to previous reports this summer which showed more than the fact that barely a dozen teachers were removed in a ten year period when hundreds of complaints are fielded each year. It took, on average, 830 days to remove the few “bad apples” that were actually let go, at an average cost to the taxpayers of $313,000 for each one. Yet it seems that none of these facts will ever pass Randi Weingarten’s lips. In her world, the unions are unfairly attacked, the teachers are almost entirely blameless, tenure is a wonderful system and all they really need to make it a perfect world is a lot more money.
Here’s the interview. It’s not terribly long.