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The Evolution of Randi Weingarten, Part 2

Many scoffed, with good reason, at my suggestion a few weeks back that American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten was going soft on the rising generation of pugnacious and vaguely anti-union school innovators and their billionaire backers. I wasn’t certain myself. All I knew was she was a smart leader who thought several moves ahead, that her membership was filling up with younger teachers who liked the success of mostly non-union charter organizations like KIPP, and that she was taking money from previously unfriendly business-backed foundations to foster an AFT teacher innovation program.

Well, looks what just popped up in my email basket---another powerful indication of Weingarten in transition. She gives the latest report by the New Teacher Project, the creation of her alleged archrival D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, a big hug.

“This report offers further evidence that our current teacher evaluation system, by and large, doesn’t work,” Weingarten says. “The report also points the way to a credible, fair, accurate and effective teacher evaluation system that would improve teaching and learning. While the AFT and the New Teacher Project (TNTP) have had differences in the past, we are in agreement that the current evaluation system is a blunt instrument that should be replaced by a more precise tool to help teachers grow professionally and serve students better. To TNTP’s credit, the report’s recommendations steer clear of quick fixes, such as relying heavily on student test scores to evaluate teachers. The report finds that such a change would make the situation worse, not better.”

Wow. What’s next? All that Weingarten can find to criticize in the report is its characterization of teacher evaluations in the big city of Toledo. Does this mean her contract negotiations with Rhee have taken a turn for the better? Stay tuned. There are some really bad charter-union clashes still underway, but Weingarten is looking beyond them. This could be important.

By Washington Post editors  | June 2, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Trends  | Tags:  aft weingarten rhee charter schools  
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