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
Dear Candi:
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


Anonymous said...

Bravo Candi to writing AFT President Weingarten! Keeping us in the dark while we are being raped is what happened to us during slavery. Great job. We need people who are willing to say what is right.

Pete said...

Well, now! Exactly what did she 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!?!

Classic said...

WOW, that is as bad as the letter she sent us when we expressed concern about George's terrible hadling of the RIF. She is a terrible leader. If we are facing so many challenges than she should be encouraging ANY activity that is trying to counteract what is going on. When are the elections for AFT leadership. No wonder teachers are losing this battle with leaders like her and George we are being lead by the blind. This is just so sad.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: She says it is left to the local unions to decide if they wanted to participate. George and Co used her for cover when that was completely unnecessary!! There are valid points raised regarding the prep time required for rallies. However, the proximity of local union teachers to and around WDC makes us an exception and we should be leading the charge. George did not want to do it and hid behind Randi's skirt..

Joseph said...

Part of the problem Candi is not only are the democrats and the republicans aligned on anti teachers tactics, it appears that AFT locals are also - with the support and encouragement of Randi Weingarten. AFT is confusing as hell with its support of pay for performance, charter schools, and race to the top. I can not believe the AFT Executive Council or Randi is listening to their membership. AFT has no value to local union members, whatsoever. Everytime they speak for teachers it means nothing. This is a problem. Local teacher union members must take action to guarantee the AFT leaders are advocating our
interest at the classroom level.

Do not assume they are.

We should insist any pro teacher competition initiatives be coupled with pro union competition provisions.

This means that we are allowed to select other unions for membership so that we can express our point of view with those who think it is important. We should remove the "exclusive bargaining agent" designation. Then we should remove the automatic dues deduction requirement from the union contract which would make the union actually earn its money or not get paid automatically. I will bet Randi and George Parker will drop the excuses for not supporting the rank and file teachers' "Defend Public Education March."

I like this idea because if children and families can vote with their feet; I want to as well.

It just makes sense.

Anonymous said...

The Department of Education’s scoring of DC’s Race to the Top application (it came in 16th out of 16) has a modest quote from Chancellor Rhee, followed by the reviewer's less than impressed concern:

First, the application reviewer quotes from the DC application:

"In the opening statements to section D, the authors of the application state that “This plan is so bold and ambitious that, as Chancellor Rhee explains, it will ‘have ramifications far outside of Washington, D.C. … [What] happens here is going to crack things open across the country.’”

Next, the reviewer explains why that relatively modest insertion of self-promotion is a concern:

"Again, the concern is raised that the work proposed under the reform agenda should be focused on developing human potential and less on creating public notoriety for a particular state’s position. The number of points awarded for this section of the application is due to the concern raised for the District’s interest in attracting national attention and recognition"

DC OSSE Application: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/district-of-columbia.pdf

DC OSSE Appendix: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/appendixes/district-of-columbia.pdf

DC OSSE Application: DoEd Reviewers’ Comments http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/comments/district-of-columbia.pdf

Final Rankings: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/score-summary.pdf

Anonymous said...


Anyone catch this negative story about Rhee management of Shadd ? Kinda surprise especially since it appears in the Examiner

The Washington Teacher said...


You make some very valid points and I like your reasoning. I would like to talk with you off line about this further. Email me c/o saveourcounselors@gmail.com

Anonymous @ 11:09 am- that Examiner article that you reference is a year old. I wrote about the Shadd story on this blog over 1 year ago. Scroll down and check out the posts titled Shadd on the right side of this blog.

Miguel Rosario, Ward 8 parent said...

I am parent first and I find it very disturbing and annoying that Ms Weingarten doesn't have the courage to stand with the teachers and students from the Nations Capitol in DC. She likes to be on TV talking about the teachers union as a whole on shows like Bill Maher.

Ms Weingarden, as a parent that has been involved in the school reform movement, the lame excuses that Union leadership like yourself has been talking about on Radio and TV networks is a disgrace to the sacrifices that the union teacher professionals gave to build this union.

I am a parent and I don't appreciate hearing a labor leader like yourself talking about the legalizing of marijuana. Being blunt your answer should have been no, no, no.

Candi, you know I am loyal supporter of all teachers especially the ones this administration fired. Weingarten's statement sounds like she doesn't endorse the rally only excuses, excuses. These Union leaders like Weingarten and Parker need a class on courage.

Anonymous said...

Randi Weingarten continues her sell-out tour here in DC. Just ask teachers from NY who know her antics best.

MLK Died For Us said...

The President is Wall Street's worm in the teacher's union. She serves the bankers first and teachers not at all. Awhile back this entry appeared on the Education Intelligence Agency web site.

Spilling what was arguably one of the worst-kept secrets in American labor history, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten officially announced her candidacy for the presidency of the American Federation of Teachers.

She also made official her intention to continue as UFT president while holding national office. When the New York Daily News remarked that holding both positions would nearly double her annual salary to reach almost $600,000, Weingarten referred to her previous career as a Wall Street attorney and replied, "I took a huge cut in any kind of pay that I was ever going to make in my life to do this job. And so money has never been an issue with me other than to try to champion those causes for my members."

Weingarten spent three years as an associate for Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. While there is no way to know what career path she might have taken had she not been hired by UFT in 1986, it's pretty clear how much she would have made had she stayed at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan as an associate. She even mentioned it in a 2004 speech:
"If I were starting out today as a young new attorney in my old firm – Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, I would be starting at $125,000. After eight years as a teacher here in New York, I'd be making $60,700. After eight years in my old law firm, I'd be making a base salary of $215,000."

A more recent look at the firm's salary schedule shows a $280,000 level after eight years. Certainly we can generate scenarios in which Weingarten would have made more than $600,000 as an attorney, but in reality she made more money in her first eight years as UFT president than she would have had she spent those eight years as a Wall Street attorney.

Sheila H. Gill said...

From my perspective, it is a clear indication that everyone, I mean "YOU" and "ME" need to be actively involved and commited "ALL THE TIME!"

Randi placed the ultimate decisions on the local unions Presidents. The local unions Presidents are able to exercise their freedom of choice!!

At the end of the day, it is up to "YOU" and "ME" in making a positive difference and hold all leaders accountable.

Join me:
*April 10, 2010 at the rally for Public Education (US Dept. of Ed.).
*April 15,2009 at the John R. Wilson Building -Sinclair Skinner's (Fenty's buddy) hearing.
*to support Nathan Saunders for WTU President.
*to support Vincent Gray for Mayor 2010.

"We Can Do Better."

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Sheila for the update on Skinner's hearing!! I HAVE been watching the hearings alot since the 16 hour long one. I am shocked how DC gov't workers sound like complete idiots when they come before the council. Amazing how they still have thier jobs: Rhee, Wepman; Toddman; Jakie Glover and her buddy forgot his name but they both avoided the first invite to the hearing; Santos; Dr. Briggs (OSSE) oh my gosh she is the worst. She is bad at looking like an idiot. After watching these govt employees testify I am convinced of one or two things. They are truly idiots or they are afraid they will lose thier jobs if they dont lie, steal and cheat for Adrian Fenty. Oh yeah and Alan Lew also made himself look shady when he testilied before council.

Anonymous said...

I am all for the education thing but I can't go in support of Saunders or Gray! No way... that would be taking us back in time. We don't want to go there people!

Candi, please post this comment... you never did post my last one. The people deserve to hear everyone's opinions!

Anonymous said...

I remember Ms. Weingarten from my days in NYC. She is a joke. A few years ago she sent open letters not NYC residents endorsing the use of cellphones in the class room. As if students need one more thing to distract them in class. By the way it was the only letter I received from her. I don't know how she got my address. But I do know she never invited me to a hearing, to donate supplies for the schools, to volunteer, nada! But she wanted me to support Cellphones