The New York Times reports today that the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, is willing to consider tenure and merit pay.
Why do we care? The vast majority of New Jersey teachers belong to the National Education Association, AFT’s 600-pound beer-guzzling brother who’d sooner flatten you than flatter you. And AFT has traditionally been, well, untraditional. This is, after all, the union in New York City (it’s called the UFT there) that sponsors its own charter schools, supports ousting incompetent teachers, and participates in high-level debates about educational policy.
But we care nonetheless, even out in the wilds of unenlightened New Jersey. Weingarten’s openness is a spark of light in a discussion that’s been conducted in a dark closet. In a speech in D.C. yesterday, she said that due to the economic crisis, her 1.4 million member union would consider new options.
In the spirit of this extraordinary moment, and as a pledge of shared responsibility, I’ll take the first step,” she said. “With the exception of vouchers, which siphon scarce resources from public schools, no issue should be off the table, provided it is good for children and fair to teachers.
Dare we hope that NEA sees the writing on the wall and agrees to start being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem?