Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rotherham on Weingarten: Two Peas in a Pod

[I]n the coded language of labor negotiations it's actually a signal from Weingarten that she's open to negotiating and moving in Rhee's direction if Rhee can give her the necessary political cover.

This is the key quote as Ed Sector's Andrew Rotherham looks at Weingarten as a "reformer" in the wrong mode where reform means giving up teachers to mauling. Ed Notes has been saying all along that Weingarten desperately wants to make a deal with Rhee and probably even sent over some PR people to show Rhee how to cool it a bit to give Weingarten cover to sell out the DC teachers as she did in NYC.

He mistakenly gives Weingarten too much credit for interfering with the pace of "reform" in NY State. The good thing about this piece is how he traces it all back to Al Shanker, so we see the continuum of over 25 years of UFT/AFT policy and he gets the role Weingarten has played, not as an advocate for teachers, but as a intermediary between the rank and file and the market based/business/Broad crowd looking to undermine public education. He paints her in a corner. He claims she can lose it all to charters if she doesn't make a deal, and he does get that the important thing to Weingarten is membership - and dues - so she and her crowd can maintain power. We are part of a building coalition to make it just a little harder for her to accomplish her and Rotherham's aims.

Just a few delicious quotes which should resonate with every NYC classroom teacher.
Can AFT president Randi Weingarten satisfy teachers and reformers at the same time?

Randi Weingarten, the notoriously feisty president of the second-largest national teachers' union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), received a hero's welcome at the National Press Club last November. In her speech, she vowed to give ear to almost any tough-minded school reform, and, in a line that thrilled many reformers, promised that the AFT will not protect incompetent teachers: "Teachers are the first to say, 'Let's get incompetent teachers out of the classroom.'"

Caught up in a contentious situation with the Washington, D.C. school system that has challenged her reformist credentials, Weingarten's attempt to satisfy both sides of the debate is being put to the test.
When exactly Weingarten got directly involved in the Washington negotiations remains a matter of some debate, but there is no doubt that she has been deeply involved and that a counter-offer submitted to Rhee in late January by the WTU comes with her approval. As her Press Club speech would suggest, Weingarten is open to firing bad teachers. But the counter-offer, which hasn't been made public, would complicate rather than streamline that process in D.C. Among those who have seen the details, there are two views about what it means for the negotiations. Some say it is what it appears to be--at odds with the spirit of what Weingarten promised in her Press Club speech, wrapping teachers even more tightly in tenure protections and extending the termination process. Others say that in the coded language of labor negotiations it's actually a signal from Weingarten that she's open to negotiating and moving in Rhee's direction if Rhee can give her the necessary political cover. If adopted as currently proposed, however, Rhee's hurry-up reforms would be throttled back to a glacial pace and students would suffer.

It's hard to find an elected official or policy analyst in Washington who won't privately acknowledge that the NEA is bereft of real ideas about how to improve schools, whereas Weingarten is at least full of ideology-bucking plans.

Jeez. Ideology bucking. What a crock.

Read the entire piece at Norm's Notes.
Can AFT president Randi Weingarten satisfy teachers and reformers at the same time?


The Perimeter Primate said...

Hi again,

I was thrilled to hear the piece about Rubber Rooms on "This American Life" last weekend. I've seen the phrase on your blog here, but never really understood what they were.

Anonymous said...

Actually AFT co-authored the WTU counter proposal (no secret btw).Of course AFT took the lead in my opinion. The problem is that DC teachers and WTU executive board members and AFT staff participated on various WTU/AFT committees to offer recommendations for what needed to be addressed in our counter proposal.

Our WTU executive board did ask for assistance from AFT especially after contract talks stalled with Chancellor Rhee and WTU Chief Negotiator/Union President George Parker. AFT became more actively involved near to the end of last year.

At the unveiling of the WTU/AFT counter proposal- we were given copies of a very large document that we could not read in its entirety before our meeting ended. Due to confidentiality we were asked to return all copies of the proposal. My concern is that even members of our WTU negotiating team stated that they did not get to preview the proposal in its entirety despite working on certain sections when they met with AFT on a number of occassions. That for me was problematic but unfortunately negotiating team members did not share this with members of our executive board.

One thing I noticed in our contract proposal was mutual consent. Of course not being able to read the proposal in its entirety - I am not certain how this will impact DC teachers.

I am worried particularly as I have educated myself by reading many NY educators blogs. Your blogs have been informative. My worst fear is that this mutual consent could propel us into a similar situation like ATR in New York.

I am impressed by all of the many NY education bloggers. You all are the best !

ed notes online said...

Not allowing people to read the contract is an old tactic used by Weingarten and Unity caucus here in NYC to hide the fine print. They don't change their stripes. I can tell you before you even take another look: GET PEOPLE TO VOTE NO!
Keep us posted.