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January 13, 2010

The Weingarten Speech

Andrew Rotherham:

Today at the National Press Club AFT President Randi Weingarten is calling for reforms to due process for teachers. You can’t do much better than Sawchuk’s take on it here, but Washington Post and Jay Mathews, USAT, and Bob Herbert also write on it this morning. And although the text isn’t online yet here’s Weingarten herself over at the Huffpo. Update: Text on the AFT site now (pdf).

First the good: This is an important acknowledgement from Weingarten and one with some big implications. She deserves credit for that. For a long time the union line on all this has been that it’s not hard to rid the field of low-performers, the problem is lousy administrators and a blame the teachers mindset. This isn’t all wrong by the way, administrators are not just chompin’ at the bit to rid schools of under-performing teachers. The problems are systemic ones. But by laying this on the table Weingarten is opening the door on that conversation more than a crack and pulling the rug out from under a lot of folks. That’s important. By calling the process “glacial” the genie is out of the bottle, perhaps more than Weingarten herself may realize.

In addition, bringing in Kenneth Feinberg is important. He demonstrated an ability for reasonableness in thorny situations. And because he has no aspirations within education he has no reason to pull any punches. Perhaps most importantly, with Feinberg you get the sense that if this is all a big ruse, that will become clear. He doesn’t seem like someone with a lot of patience for misdirection plays and so forth. In other words, involving him increases the accountability.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at January 13, 2010 4:32 AM
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