Obama's speech, tantamount to a declaration of war, was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's 1981 busting of PATCO, the air controllers union and marked a major open break with reform partner Randi Weingarten and the AFT.
The only question now is, will the AFT and NEA stand and fight or lose all credibility as a voice for their 4 million members?
In a joint response, Weingarten and local union officials said:
"We know it is tempting for people in Washington to score political points by scapegoating teachers, but it does nothing to give our students and teachers the tools they need to succeed."In an interview, Weingarten said Obama's comments about the school "don't reflect the reality on the ground and completely ignore the commitment teachers have made to turn things around." Seemingly trying to put the president's speech in the best light, Weingarten said the union was "profoundly disappointed by the comments" and said the president "seems to be focused on . . . incomplete information."
Does she really think that Obama would make such a strategic move without first getting all the facts?
National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel echoed Weingarten's Obama-is-naive response:
"It's time for federal officials to get out of the blame game and into the classroom. One thing is certain: Firing the entire faculty of a school that is on the path to improvement is no recipe for turning around a struggling high school. And relying on a magical pool of 'excellent teachers' to spring forth and replace them is naïve at best and desperately misguided." ... in reality, we all know that the solution is not blame, it is collaboration...collaboration among school employees, management, parents and communities."The AFT also took the opportunity to offer a 2009 report that highlights turnover in leadership (6 principals in 4 years) and a variety of conflicting, failed, top-down reform programs.