Ed covered the initial court ruling last week and some of its potential implications, but the California judge’s decision regarding several teachers union rules involving the constitutionality of tenure has raised a few hackles. The unions are none too happy with some members of their own tribe, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and they want you all to know.
In an open letter to Duncan published Thursday night, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten took the secretary to task for his perceived betrayal.
“This week,” the letter begins, “we needed your leadership; to demonstrate that teacher and student interests are aligned; that we must press—60 years after Brown v. Board—for educational equity; that it takes more than a focus on teachers to improve public education.
“But instead, you added to the polarization. And teachers across the country are wondering why the secretary of education thinks that stripping them of their due process is the way to help all children succeed.”
It’s not immediately obvious that the administration is suddenly seeing the light regarding the insane rules which teachers unions impose to hang on to their power. It is far more likely a case that they’ve simply been following the poll numbers (as usual) and seeing the writing on the wall.
Teachers unions still have too much money and too many members to be counted out. Collectively, they represent 3.8 million workers and retirees. They bring in more than $2 billion a year.
Yet the share of Americans who see teachers unions as a negative influence on public schools shot up to 43 percent last year, up from 31 percent in 2009, according to national polling conducted by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and the journal Education Next. By contrast, 32 percent see unions as a positive force, up from 28 percent in 2009, the poll found.
Weingarten has long been the nation’s official Baghdad Bob of education reform, though incredibly more effective than her Iraqi counterpart. She gets trotted out on every news network, print outlet or web space willing to give her the time of day and the message never varies. Teachers are never the problem and all of you Right Wingnuts are just jealous of the power of the unions and all of these problems could be readily resolved if the taxpayers would just give us a boatload more money.
She’s done more interviews than I can count and I’ve yet to see Weingarten give a coherent answer to the still extant problems of the rubber rooms, teachers remaining on the payroll after being charged with sexual abuse of minors and a raft of other issues. And all the while, the answers repeat the mantra of how we’ll be harming the children if we “go after” the teachers. It would be nice to think that the tide is starting to turn on this issue – beginning with the recent events in California – but they’ve been hanging on to that power for a long time and they certainly won’t go gentle into that good night.