For all of Randi Weingarten’s “reformist” posturing, the president of the American Federation of Teachers doesn’t seem to find many examples of actual reforms she can support. A New York City school principal once said Weingarten “would protect a dead body in the classroom.” Killing reforms is just another way to do that.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen Randi play to the peanut gallery on numerous reform efforts. She spoke out against Florida’s model for evaluating teacher performance, known as VAM (Value-Added Model) — a method of measuring performance that takes into account where students start from. She dismissed VAM as “education’s big data instrument,” adding that “schools need evaluation systems that are not about ranking and firing but about improving and learning.” In other words, bad teachers shouldn’t be fired, but coddled, presumably indefinitely.
Weingarten also lashed out (again) against charter schools. Weingarten tried to make charter schools, which have improved educations for numerous families, seem like a conspiracy hatched by the Wal-Mart heirs. Weingarten raved that the Walton family’s charitable arm is “trying to create an alternative system and destabilize what has been the anchor of American democracy.” The Walton Foundation is trying to give parents more choices about where they want to send their students. Since unionized public schools often fail, many parents choose charters. For Randi and her radical union, that’s a bad thing.
It’s not just Weingarten and the national AFT that oppose reform. The Houston Federation of Teachers, AFT’s Texas state affiliate, recently slammed Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s plan to give bonuses to high-performing teachers. Texas AFT President Gayle Fallon offered the following lame and insulting excuse: “If that happened no one would want to teach in low income schools or a class that was behind grade level.” Fallon seems to think the teachers she represents are just in it for the money, not for the love of teaching.
Randi and her radical underlings rarely miss an opportunity to stomp out even the slightest hint of meritocracy. The result? Our children suffer.