Ah, the two faces of Randi Weingarten. Perhaps overcome with election-induced fuzzies, she boldly proclaimed on Monday: "with the exception of vouchers... no issue should be off the table, provided it is good for children and fair to teachers." Reformers, take heart! Maybe it was fate, then, that brought her to say these words in our nation's capital where schools chancellor Michelle Rhee continues to map out strategies for bringing much needed reform to teacher salaries and tenure. With her union negotiations (with an AFT local) at an impasse, Rhee's latest brainstorms include declaring D.C. schools in a "state of emergency." Perhaps worrying that Washington Teachers Union President George Parker will fold, Weingarten and the chancellor were scheduled to meet this week. So does this mean impending détente? Apparently not. Weingarten has declared Rhee's ideas "totally at odds" with those that belong on the AFT's supposed table. Once again, words of reform are followed by actions that stymie it. When Weingarten starts talking out of only one side of her mouth, real reformers will consider taking her overtures seriously.
"Head of Teachers' Union Offers to Talk on Tenure and Merit Pay," by Sam Dillon, New York Times, November 17, 2008
"Fenty, Rhee Look for Ways Around Union," by Bill Turque, Washington Post, November 16, 2008
"Union Chiefs and Rhee Will Meet," by Bill Turque, Washington Post, November 18, 2008