AFT members around the nation who might have been impressed with the militancy of Randi Weingarten's words, should examine the impact of her decade of leadership of the UFT which has resulted in a union at its weakest point in well over 3 decades.
A Voice in the Wilderness at CNC in "Dear UFT Leaders" writes
I am a career teacher who has always shown commitment and support to our union. From the time I was a fledgling teacher, I have attended executive board meetings and rallies, organized and assisted with voting, created and distributed fliers, and generally supported our union in any way possible. I will always support the right of the American worker to unionize.
However, with all due respect, I must ask you a question:
While Under Assault asks if Randi as a teacher union pres. is a fish out of water.
I see a self-serving union president who loves playing in the political pool but who wasn't born a fish. Without the instinct for the job we do, she can't really defend us. Heck, she can't even recognize what's killing us.
See all the Under Assault fish swim.
Why is Weingarten a fish out of water when her bio says she taught for 6 years at a Brooklyn high school? Context. She taught only 6 months full-time. The rest was part-time. It is important to note that her so-called teaching career was fabricated to give her credentials as the successor to Sandra Feldman.
Weingarten was the perfect Teach for America candidate - but even more short term
Many of us knew as far back as the early 90's - before she ever set foot in a school - that she was the next UFT president when some Unity Caucus members were upset at a lawyer jumping over so many teachers. (I got to know her when I became Chapter leader in 1994 and certainly approached her as the next UFT president.)
Insiders were scratching their heads as to why a lawyer and not a teacher was being tapped to run the United Federation of Teachers. How is someone tapped outside a democratic process? In a monarchy like the UFT and AFT, that is the way it is done.
She was assigned a full-time UFT staffer as a coach to get her through the teaching license procedure and began teaching at Clara Barton HS in Prospect Heights where Leo Casey was the chapter leader. This was a hand-picked "safe" school a few minutes from her home in Park Slope. The much more dangerous Prospect Heights HS, next door to Clara Barton, was not an option.
Friends as Clara Barton told me the entire staff knew Weingarten as a celebrity amongst them. "Wow," said one, "she even did lunch duty one semester." She was given the debate team to coach as comp time and a few classes to teach. The rest of the day was spent as a UFT official at UFT HQ and around the city. She even negotiated the disastrous 1995 contract that was turned down by the membership while supposedly teaching full-time.
With it being clear that Feldman would be moving up, Weingarten put in a 6 month term of full-time teaching to create the sense she was a teacher, not a lawyer.
You have just a slightly different "teaching" exerience when you are a "celebrity teacher." You sort of miss 99% of the stuff that gives you insight as to what teaching career means.
NYC teachers who have been paying attention are painfully aware of the difference and that sentiment is what A Voice and Under Assault have expressed as Weingarten doesn't have the instinctive outrage that teachers feel about what is going on.
All too often I have watched her tepid defense and waffling "yes, we are not afraid of accountability" or "we too want to get rid of bad teachers" without placing all of it in proper context. Real teachers feel the pain of the destructive acts of the phony ed reform movement and know full well Weingarten uses PR to muddle things to give the impression she is somewhere in the middle - supportive of teachers but also supportive of reform.
The result is a misdirection of any teacher militancy that would resist the trend. Even people outraged by what is going on still succumb to the appeal to them as professionals who want to purify their profession. Only the very few like Susan Ohanian and the other test resisters are willing to say the witch hunts to root out so-called bad teachers is just a front for an attack on teacher unions, an attack that Weingarten and her supporters are all too willing to allow to occur.