Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Randi Weingarten: Tenure is a “job for life”

The American Federation of Teachers has been trying to make a difficult pivot for quite some time. Understanding that public sentiment against union excesses and the protection of bad teachers is on the rise, they have tried to paint themselves as reformers while also disputing the fact that “teacher tenure” is a codeword for “job for life.” So it was with some interest that I saw the head of the AFT, Randi Weingarten, make the following admission:

[Teacher tenure] has effectively become in some places a job for life, which is wrong.

(Of course, Weingarten and her union still aren’t in favor of scrapping tenure. They just want to amend it, slightly decreasing the amount of time it takes to fire a bad teacher.)

Back to my point: It’s interesting to see Weingarten finally admit that tenure is, indeed, effectively a “job for life.” Because for years now, she has adamantly and vehemently denied that was the case. Let’s go to the videotape!

“So tenure is, you know, let me do a little bit of myth busting here. One, tenure is not a job for life. What tenure is, is that … you get a hearing before you get fired.” Randi Weingarten, MSNBC, 1/13/2011

“It’s been repeated so often that many people think it’s true. Bad teachers cannot be fired because they have an ironclad fortress called tenure. It’s simply not so. Teachers do not and should not have a job for life. It’s a red herring to say that tenure keeps bad teachers in the classroom.” Randi Weingarten, CBS News Sunday Morning, 10/3/2010

“Tenure is, is simply — tenure is not supposed to be a job for life. All tenure is supposed to be is that if somebody is told that they’re not good, they have a hearing. That’s all it’s supposed to be.” Randi Weingarten, CNN, 3/12/2010

There are some folks who think tenure means a job for life, which it does not mean.” Randi Weingarten, New York Post, 6/24/2009.

We’re glad that Weingarten has reversed her longstanding position that tenure is not an effective guarantee of a job for life. We just wish that she would join us in working to abolish the problem, not amend it. We need to get bad teachers out of the classroom, and quickly. Tenure and half-hearted measures of tenure “reform” stop that from happening.

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