Randi Weingarten likes to claim people who call her out are ultra-right-wing Tea Partiers, education privatizers, or agents of libertarian activist-philanthropists Charles and David Koch. In an interview with the Washington Post, Randi claimed that “the Koch brothers and deep-pocketed conservative activists” are behind “an anti-public education agenda of vouchers, privatization, and attacks on teachers and their unions.”
But now the criticism of AFT and its radical leadership is coming from liberals and moderates. First, we have a former Obama Education Department appointee writing at the Huffington Post. She calls out Randi for an earlier HuffPo piece, noting:
In a recent piece in The Huffington Post, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond redefined the word accountability to essentially mean its opposite: avoiding responsibility for academic underperformance. […]
Reasonable people might quibble with one aspect of [NY State Education Commissioner John King’s] approach or another, but to label it — as Weingarten and Darling-Hammond did — simply as “test and punish” is preposterous, especially given the unusual quality of supports New York provides to teachers.
Declaring accountability-based education reforms as “test and punish” probably polls well for the AFT, but as the writers note, it is misleading. Randi and the AFT have blocked all sorts of promising reforms, from teacher evaluation methods to charter schools to merit-based bonuses for effective teachers. There’s a reason a New York City principal once said Weingarten “would protect a dead body in the classroom.”
Randi is also taking flak for her spin on a recent survey of teacher absenteeism. She said that a finding that teachers take the equivalent of 11 sick days per year “shows the extraordinary dedication of teachers across the country.”
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette editorial board—which endorsed Barack Obama in 2008—strongly disagreed, noting that the level of absenteeism is “not extraordinary dedication. That’s a problem.” The editors also took Randi personally to task, noting that the problem “won’t be solved through the kind of denial exhibited by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.”
With left-leaning education advocates and newspaper editorial boards questioning Randi’s radicalism, her cushy status quo may be coming towards an end. That’s good for America’s kids.