AFT’s Weingarten Joins NEA In Criticism Of Duncan


The AP (7/13, Blood) reports that American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said Friday that Education Secretary Duncan “has turned his back on the concerns of educators and parents, but she stopped short of calling for his ouster.” The criticism follows Duncan’s comments last month in support of a California court ruling “that struck down tenure and other job protections for the state’s public school teachers,” and follows years of tensions over Duncan’s support for charter schools and for using student test scores as part of teacher evaluations. Earlier this month, the National Education Association called on Duncan to resign. The AP quotes ED spokeswoman Dorie Nolt saying, “Secretary Duncan has said before that he doesn’t get involved in union politics. He is hopeful that after AFT wraps up their meeting, he and the organization can continue to work together to prepare all students for college, careers and life.”

        The Hill (7/12, Sullivan) wrote that “with the teachers unions at loggerheads with the administration, Democrats are suddenly at risk of losing one of their most reliable allies and fundraising sources.”

        Valerie Strauss wrote in the Washington Post (7/14, Strauss) “Answer Sheet” blog that Education Secretary Duncan’s relations “with the country’s largest teachers unions – which collectively have more than 4 million members – keep getting worse.” While delegates to the American Federation of Teachers convention this weekend did not join the National Education Association’s earlier call for Duncan’s resignation, the AFT “urged President Obama to put Duncan on an ‘improvement plan’” and said Duncan should leave if he does not change. Strauss says the “obvious hitch” is that Obama “hasn’t shown a single sign that he disagrees with Duncan’s education reform agenda.”

        Politico (7/14, Grasgreen) reported that the AFT’s “‘improvement plan’ would include the requirement that Duncan enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Equity Commission’s ‘Each and Every Child’ report; change the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top ‘test-and-punish’ accountability system to a ‘support-and-improve’ model; and ‘promote rather than question’ teachers and school staff.”

        Stephen Sawchuk writes at the Education Week (7/14) “TeacherBeat” blog that the union “passed a resolution Sunday calling on President Barack Obama to put U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on an ‘improvement plan,’ and demand his resignation if he doesn’t change positions the union deems harmful.” Sawchuk considers whether the AFT’s resolution is stronger or weaker than the recent anti-Duncan resolution from the NEA, noting that “the AFT makes it explicit that the buck for the education secretary ultimately stops with the person who appointed him—President Obama.” The Los Angeles Times (7/14, Blume) also covers this story.

        NPR (7/14, Westervelt) runs a Q&A with Weingarten in its “NprEd” blog. Topics include teachers’ frustration over such issues as the California tenure ruling, Common Core implementation, and evaluations, along with calls for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to step down.