Since we launched our new campaign exposing the American Federation of Teachers and its contributions to America’s education decline, we’ve had several testy exchanges with AFT President Randi Weingarten. When we kicked things off with a full-page ad in The New York Times, Randi initially took to Twitter to let us know her displeasure. Then, appearing later that evening on the Kelly File, Randi was presented with the ad and asked to answer directly to its charges on national television – answers that were less than accurate, to say the least.
Well now Randi’s taking out her frustration in print. Last week, our executive director had an op-ed published in the Providence Journal in which he placed blame with Randi and the AFT for causing America’s fall in the recently released rankings of international scholastic performance. Specifically, Randi has throughout her career with both the United Federation of Teachers (an AFT Local) and the AFT itself militantly opposed policies that reward the best teachers with merit-based pay – if you’re a better teacher, shouldn’t you be paid more? – and opposed those that would remove failing teachers from the school system altogether (e.g., “rubber rooms”).
So this week Randi responded with a lengthy letter to the editor seeking to correct the record – and again, was off on several notes. For one, Randi accuses us of attacking teachers and their unions alike. This could not be further from the truth. The Center for Union Facts does not attack good teachers – it exposes the power structures (aka, teachers unions) which make positive education reform impossible.
Second, Randi speaks of the need for fewer political grenades. Interesting. Because it was the AFT that just recently was exposed for having spent $480,000 in an exceptionally shady campaign to elect the new mayor of Boston, Martin Walsh. Not to mention that in the 2012-13 fiscal year (the most recent year for which data is available) the AFT spent a staggering $32 million on political contributions.
Randi can continue on her misinformed and misleading tirades if she likes, and we suspect that she will. (We can’t wait to hear what she thinks about this.) She’s fighting an uphill battle though, that somehow she can convince Americans the AFT is right for our kids despite decades of union-led stagnation and decline. Good luck.