Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ed Week: DNC Emails Published by WikiLeaks Show Links to AFT and Common-Core Anxiety

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton supports the common core, as do two of her big backers, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.... Ed Week
We know that Randi and crew are tied to the Democratic Party hip and wikiLeaks is further corroboration. That is how our union maintained support for ed deform since the late 1980's. The rising bile of the rank and file has forced the leadership to back off somewhat on supporting deformers and might even lead to moving the Dem party a bit away from the Obama deforms though you haven't seen anyone openly trashing Race to the Top - even Bernie. So as an educator don't expect much in the way of massive backing off charter schools and common core revised as a horse of a different color.

DNC Emails Published by WikiLeaks Show Links to AFT and Common-Core Anxiety

By now you've probably heard about the trove of emails to and from the Democratic National Committee that were released last week by WikiLeaks, an organization that publishes leaked documents to expose what it says is corruption and malfeasance by governments, as well as corporations.

So what if any links do these emails reveal between the DNC and teachers' unions in particular?

• The DNC communications team appears to be very sensitive about the Common Core State Standards and the issue of local and federal control over schools.
In a May 3 email expressing frustrations about the content of a video emphasizing that the "GOP doesn't appreciate teachers," Eric Walker, a deputy communications director at the DNC, wrote the following:
"A) Common core is a political third rail that we should not be touching at all. Get rid of it. B) Most people want local control of education so having [then-GOP presidential candidate Ted] Cruz and [now-GOP nominee Donald] Trump saying it on a DNC video is counterproductive. Would get rid of any references to that."
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton supports the common core, as do two of her big backers, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. It's taken a political beating on the national stage from both Democrats and Republicans, although most states that originally adopted the standards have stuck by them.
• A series of emails on May 4 deal with talking points being crafted by the DNC for a conference call with reporters the next day.  American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and U.S. Rep Mark Pocan, D-Wis., were slated to speak about how GOP nominee Donald Trump's rhetoric had contaminated schools.
Walker suggested having Weingarten speak before Pocan on the call, writing, "she's the bigger draw."
Eventually, the DNC was told that the AFT had signed off on the talking points.
• On May 5, John Ost, AFT's political director, wrote the following in an email to the DNC: "RW [Weingarten] is doing some press today re: Trump. We've been working with TJ [Helmstetter, who also works in DNC communications]. Question: who can we connect with to get more background/research re: Trump? We want to shift gears and spend more time educating our members."
Ost subsequently wrote to [DNC communications director Luis] Miranda that his group would take that background and research and "repurpose into AFT branded mailers/flyers."
• Miranda responded in an email with the heading of "Donald Trump - Bad for Education, Labor & Healthcare" about Trump's desire not to work with unions, eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, and (ironically enough, given AFT's skepticism of how standardized tests are often used) his dislike for "mindless standardized tests."
37aft_randi_600.jpg• Later on ,May 5, Weingarten held the scheduled conference call with reporters—including Education Week—claiming that now-Republican Party nominee Trump's rhetoric was damaging to public school students.
We noted in our blog post about Weingarten's comments, published the same day, that the DNC had set up the call. (Weingarten did in fact end up speaking before Pocan.)
Other emails deal with:
• A press call with the New Jersey Education Association in which the DNC appears to try to get a "bigger surrogate" on the call than someone from the AFT (which had not responded to the DNC about the matter) such as New Jersey Sens. Cory Booker or Robert Menendez.
• What an email calls a "dangerous Trump-Christie education agenda," referring to New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie, who once said that teachers' unions deserve a punch in the face.

'On a Regular Basis'

In response to our inquiries about these emails, AFT spokesman Evan Sutton said such coordination between the union and the DNC is nothing out of the ordinary.
"We request information and research from allies on a regular basis, including the DNC, when we believe they may have materials that can be helpful to us in promoting our goals," Sutton wrote in an email.
And as for common core, Sutton said that while the AFT is on record supporting its goals, he also noted that the union has expressed concerns about its rollout and its links to "high-stakes" standardized testing.
So how much of this work between the DNC and the AFT is surprising? We'll leave it up to individual readers to decide for themselves. On that note, you can go to the WikiLeaks site for yourself and see if you can dig up anything education-related in the batch of DNC emails.
We also asked the DNC and the Donald Trump campaign about these emails, and we'll update this post if we get a response.
Photo: AFT President Randi Weingarten speaks in Detroit in 2012. Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press


  1. How do these shenanigans benefit teachers in the trenches?

    Abigail Shure

  2. "Most people want local control of education" so delete references to that fact rather than adjusting policy around what people want? This is exactly what I'd expect out of the DNC and "our" union

  3. Vote Trump....he will remove Common Core and Ed. Dept. in DC, localizing education. Teachers For Trump !

    1. Go ahead and watch public schools also disappear and your pensions too. Localizing education means giving guys like Bloomberg control. You are so clueless.

    2. A union hating, fascist walking ego and a stale corporate funded lying politician. Whoever wins-- we're screwed. I believe Hilary when she says she hears Bernie's supprters. What I don't believe is that it will make a damn bit of difference if she wins the White House. Like Mayor Bloomberg, I too am a New Yorker who knows when she's being conned. Hilary is no less a con artist than Trump. Roseanne McCosh

  4. I hope it's not too early, but my local is already advising us against a NYS Constitutional Convention- it's coming up for a vote - I think next year. If we allow a convention, people, not necessarily friendly to unions, could make decisions against our interests.
    Trump will not be a worker's friend, but there are other threats out there too.

  5. 6:28

    The biggest threat to AFT and NEA is the leadership. Trump plays second fiddle.

    Abigail Shure

    1. I agree that the unions have a greater impact on my life than probably whoever is president. But I think a big threat to the people is not being informed. I read a blog post from a Bernie supporter, who suggested that maybe we could see "Cory Booker" as a future leader! This person obviously has not followed education or NJ politics. The person is un-informed.

      My sister, not a teacher, saw R. Weingarten speak at the Dem Convention. My sister was impressed with RW's energy. I explained what I heard of the early endorsement. The energy was impressive, but now she has a fuller picture of the speaker.
      Person by person, in a respectful way, we have to inform others.

  6. The farther you get from Newark, the more Booker is liked.

    Abigail Shure


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