Apr 4, 2010
AFT President Randi Weingarten Responds
It greatly disturbs me that I pay dues to a union in which our current Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) president, George Parker and certain WTU Executive Board members (M. Angala, J. Armoo, D. Hines, S. Littlejohn, C. Locke, E. Martel, L. Smith, A. Taylor and M. Williams) were unwilling to hear about the details of the April 10 march and rally to defend public education, organized by Steve Conn and other teachers from Detroit. Parker claimed that since AFT wasn't supporting this event, the WTU would follow suit and voted against even hearing discussion on this issue at our last Executive board meeting. This seemed absurd to me especially since Steve Conn requested an endorsement directly from our local. Parker at the very least had an obligation to allow discussion on this issue. It is a problem when executive board members who have been elected to serve are unwilling to even hear issues and concerns from members like myself . When Parker refused to place this item on our March meeting agenda, I wrote an open letter to American Federation of Teachers' national union president Randi Weingarten on March 29 to elevate the issue. I must give Randi her props because unlike George Parker - she did at least respond to me. A commenter who posted here makes an excellent point about this response from Randi. Pete said...
"Well, now! Exactly what did she (Randi Weingarten) say ? Sounds like a bunch of blah, blah, blah. All those kind words she lauded on you, Candi, surely wasn't the purpose or intent of your open letter, was it?
So, what is she going to do or what has she already done to show support for these teachers traveling across the country to defend Public Education? I sill am not clear as to why AFT doesn't support it except that the group didn't start planning it last Easter.......Really!?!"
Here is the letter in its entirety:
March 31, 2010
Thank you for your open letter to me about the march to the U.S. Department of Education scheduled for April 10. There are extraordinary challenges facing teachers and students today. Our sisters and brothers throughout the American Federation of Teachers are meeting these challenges by doing everything in their power—inside and outside the classroom—to strengthen public education and to ensure that their students have access to the kind of education that opens doors throughout their lives.
Our members—and their local unions—choose many different ways to address the challenges facing our public schools. The AFT enables this exercise of freedom. Because we are a federation and a democratic institution, there is broad latitude at the local union level to make decisions about endorsement of and participation in various activities.
AFT local unions are free to promote, endorse and participate in such activities, just as they are free to exercise their judgment not to take part in certain events. That said, maximizing the effectiveness of these national events requires that we plan ahead to allow for the participation of as many teachers, parents and concerned stakeholders as possible. The most effective rallies for public education are planned months—not weeks—in advance, and scheduled to be held when educators and students are out of school. While as a national union we have not endorsed the April 10 march, we are engaged in a series of actions to help students and their educators in these tough times.
You have identified a number of the challenges facing teachers today, specifically here in Washington, D.C. I share your concerns, and I appreciate your dedication and activism. I am proud that you and so many concerned teachers and union members have spoken up about the rights and concerns of educators, and about the needs and hopes of our children. I expect that, as long as you and I have breath remaining in us, we will continue to do so.
Randi Weingarten , President
American Federation of Teachers
Posted by The Washington Teacher