AFT. Common Core will get debated on Sunday.


CTU President Karen Lewis pushed for the debate.

– Mercedes Schneider blogs at deutch29

A very good thing will happen on Sunday, July 13, 2014, at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention in Los Angeles: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be debated on the floor.

No behind-closed-doors killing of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) resolution opposing CCSS. As Politico states:

Weingarten, for instance, has repeatedly said she supports Common Core, but she also made a deliberate decision to allow a long public debate — which will be livestreamed online — on the standards. She has said the AFT is a democracy and will adopt policies favored by a majority of members, even if that means a dizzying about-face on the Common Core.

I spoke with CTU President Karen Lewis on July 10, 2014, about my concern that CTU’s anti-CCSS resolution would be somehow stifled. I learned that Lewis was instrumental in pushing for an open debate on CCSS.

There is another AFT resolution in support of CCSS. The supporting resolution assumes that CCSS is good, if only it were properly implemented. Sound familiar? As Politico notes:

The AFT will also consider a resolution — drafted by its executive council — asserting that the promise of the Common Core has been corrupted by political manipulation, administrative bungling, corporate profiteering and an invalid scoring system designed to ensure huge numbers of kids fail the new math and language arts exams that will be rolled out next spring. An even more pointed resolution flat out opposing the standards will also likely come up for a vote.

In order to preserve CCSS, AFT members are being offered a financial enticement to “rewrite” CCSS:

The American Federation of Teachers will open its annual convention Friday morning with a startling announcement: After years of strongly backing the Common Core, the union now plans to give its members grants to critique the academic standards — or to write replacement standards from scratch. …

The grant program does not need a vote from the membership to take effect. Union officials say they expect to begin distributing grants worth about $20,000 to $30,000 this fall. Local and state affiliates are eligible for the grants; AFT officials are encouraging applicants to build coalitions with parents and civic leaders, though teachers are supposed to lead the work.

Ironically, the grant money will come from the AFT Innovation Fund formerly financed by Gates to the tune of $4.4 million and doing exactly what he financed: “to work on… the Common Core State Standards.”

Read the entire post here.

I left Denver very pleased with the results.


The American Federation of Teachers is meeting in LA this weekend.

As I write this they are debating a resolution on the Common Core that was drafted by my friends in the Chicago Teachers Union and adopted by their House of Delegates.

Randi Weingarten has already said that if the delegates choose to follow the lead of the National Education Association – which met in Denver last week- and vote for Arne Duncan’s retirement from Secretary of Education, she has no objection.

As an IEA Retired delegate that was chosen in a statewide election, I left Denver very pleased with the results.

Included in those results I count the election of three women of color to lead the nation’s largest union.

I include a sharply worded New Business Item that criticizes standardize testing and the misuse of testing results to evaluate teachers. It supports the parent opt-out movement.

And I am very happy with the call for firing Secretary Duncan.

I was disappointed that the leaders of the NEA constructed a protective wall around the Common Core State Standards – unwilling to have even a discussion about them.

I spoke for such a motion in the Illinois caucus and received little support.

I think that in the long run this will not matter as much as the larger message that emerged from our convention.

The pundits and analysts have argued for a while that the Democratic Party and unions were in a troubled marriage. The Wall Street crowd was even boasting that the Democrats were cheating on us and sleeping with them.

When the NEA voted to endorse the re-election of Obama two years before the 2012 campaign, it seemed as if we were trapped in an abusive relationship, afraid to walk out the door.

We still seem to be sharing a house, even if we are now sleeping in separate bedrooms.

But to really break free, we need somewhere to go.

We need to build something new for unions members, people of color, women and for all those who call themselves progressives, remembering that these are not always separate groups.

Randi Weingarten. “It’s surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation or high poverty.”

Randi Weingarten is the President of the American Federation of Teachers.

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on today’s Vergara v. California decision.

“Today, as the Vergara decision was rendered, thousands of California classrooms were brimming with teachers teaching and students learning. They see themselves as a team, but sadly, this case now stoops to pitting students against their teachers. The other side wanted a headline that reads: “Students win, teachers lose.” This is a sad day for public education.

“While this decision is not unexpected, the rhetoric and lack of a thorough, reasoned opinion is disturbing. For example, the judge believes that due process is essential, but his objection boils down to his feeling that two years is not long enough for probation. He argues, as we do, that no one should tolerate bad teachers in the classroom. He is right on that. But in focusing on these teachers who make up a fraction of the workforce, he strips the hundreds of thousands of teachers who are doing a good job of any right to a voice. In focusing on who should be laid off in times of budget crises, he omits the larger problem at play: full and fair funding of our schools so all kids have access to the classes—like music, art and physical education—and opportunities they need.

“It’s surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children. We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors—solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.

“Sadly, there is nothing in this opinion that suggests a thoughtful analysis of how these statutes should work. There is very little that lays groundwork for a path forward. Other states have determined better ways—ways that don’t pit teachers against students, but lift up entire communities. Every child is entitled to a high-quality education regardless of his or her ZIP code. And no parent should have to rely on a lottery system to get his or her child into a good school.

“This will not be the last word. As this case makes it through an appeal, we will continue to do what we’ve done in state after state. We will continue to work with parents and communities to fight for safe and welcoming neighborhood public schools that value both kids and the women and men who work with them. No wealthy benefactor with an extreme agenda will detour us from our path to reclaim the promise of public education.”

Waiting for Kryptonite VII.

This is probably the last in a series of reviews of the faux doc Waiting for Superman. Alistair Bomphray teaches English and Journalism at Cal State Hayward.

Unfortunately, Guggenheim’s view on this debate is as free from nuance as a DC comic book. Enter Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of D.C. schools, as the caped union buster. And over there, feasting on the wormy corpses of our children’s dreams, is Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, as Lex Luthor. Rather than provide useful historical context or explore the philosophical gap between these two opposing figures, Guggenheim is content to paint the issue in broad strokes. Yes, of course, the Rubber Room is straight out of Catch 22, and, yes, of course, there are bad teachers out there (we’ve all had them), but, c’mon, what about all of the average to amazing teachers who are doing their job? Instead, Guggenheim focuses on a minority—the woefully inept, cruelly indifferent, really, really, bad teacher.