NEA (my own national union) has not explained itself, but it also hasn't responded to criticism, but they also haven't spent the last days declaring, "Look!! Shiny!! Pretty!!" about this edufeast of reformy leftovers, either. But Weingarten was right there front and center in the heralding PR from the first hour, so Randi, you got some 'splainin' to do.
And splain she does. I'm not sure any of her reasons are very convincing, but here they are.
First, AFT leaders want you to now that they're skeptical, too. "Hmm," they wonder. "Why are TFA and TNTP signed up for this."Which hits me kind of like, "Why do you have such big teeth, grandma?" But AFT believes that something new is in the air.
Here’s why we signed on: The tide is turning — rejecting the blame-and-shame and test-based sanctioning policies of the last decade — but educators must have a role in what replaces that flawed “reform.”
See, there's going to be a new table. A shinier table. And we are going to get a seat at it.
Yes, DC and policymakers have pretty much ignored actual teachers. But the winds of change, they are a-blowin'.
But in the past two years, we’ve seen real movement — movement created by educators, parents and communities effectively lifting up our voices and demanding to be heard. And it’s a movement created by the ramifications and consequences of austerity, of policy driving competition instead of collaboration, of scapegoating teachers and ignoring key factors that affect public education — especially skyrocketing child poverty rates that take a deep toll on student learning.
Now, though, elected officials, community groups and education reform organizations are paying attention in a new way. We may have reached a tipping point.
Oh? Do tell.
Oops. Never mind. Weingarten wants to tell us 1) that the President just admitted mistakes in ed policy, and 2) the New ESEA is tilting away from top-down test-obsessed teacher-blamingpolicies. And that would be swell except 1) the "mistake" that the administration admitted to was not imposing enough top-down control and 2) no, not really, because all the new ESEA's still love test-driven accountability.
Also-- have you actually read the TeachStrong verbage? Because the whole premise of TeachStrong is that teachers are lousy and need to be brought into the twenty-first century because we're all stuck in our highly backward incompetent dark ages.
Are there any more reasons to think things are changing?
We’re seeing a move away from blaming and punishing educators, and some dialogue on how to recruit, retain, support and trust them.
Where? I mean-- sputter, sputter, slap my forehead-- where exactly are you seeing this move or any such dialogue. Because out here beyond the beltway, teachers are still the cause of everything bad and only by punishing them into excellence and firing the millions of terrible ones will we ever save education. And once again-- have you read the TeachStrong materials????? Because the message there is pretty clear that teachers are a problem that needs to be fixed.
Oh, but there's a new AF task force on professionalism, and they like some of the things that TeachStrong likes, such as the creating professional pathways and new teacher support. Which is totally what the workplace task force that AFT ran with the BATs asked for, so congratulations BATs-- you've been co-opted for TeachStrong, too. (Several BATs from the QWL team reached out to be clear that they are NOT onboard with TeachStrong-- you can find a couple of them in the comments below). I'm not going to stop here, but if you want my point-by-point run down of why the TeachStrong Nine do not impress me, here it is.
But Weingarten is now on a roll.
We’re building teacher-powered schools, teacher-designed residency programs, and reclaiming meaningful recognition of the roles our veteran teachers play in mentoring novice teachers and sustaining our professional work.
Show me. Show me how. Because I find that one of the notable features of TeachStrong is that it has absolutely no language-- not a verb, not an adjective, not a comma-- that remotely resembles recognition of the need to actually listen to actual teachers. Not a bit. None. And then there's this...
Signing on to TeachStrong is about ensuring our voices and our ideas are not just heard, but are part of the blueprint of what happens next, and it’s about stopping the policymakers and elite thought-leaders from getting it wrong again.
Huh? What policymakers? What moving ahead? You almost talk as if TeachStrong is laying the groundwork for the education department in the next administration. Almost as if TeachStrong is about providing political support for a particular Clintonian candidate with an eye toward helping her set her table so that we can have a seat at it.
And if that's the case-- wait a minute. Does that mean that TFA and NCTQ and TNTP will also have a seat at this new table? Because if that's the case, this new table totally sucks. Totally. Sucks.
Some of the groups in TeachStrong may genuinely come our way as the tide turns. Others may not. If they don’t or won’t, we won’t hesitate to call them out.
Ooooooh!! Call them out! Well, that should fix everything. I bet they will live in mortal terror of being called out, because nobody in the teacher world has ever called them out before. Remember that time that the entire teaching profession called out TFA and they said, "Damn, we had better change our ways because we are getting called out!!" Or the time that the AFT and NEA called out the present administration for dismantling public education? Oh, yeah. That never happened.
But a press release about these principles or even coalitions advancing them is only a step. There are no silver bullets. We are sick and tired of people proposing the latest miracle solution. We could do everything on this list and have teachers who are both amazing and respected in every classroom, but that alone won’t be enough to help every child succeed — you know that, and we know that.
So, the TeachStrong plan is actually not important? We're just in it for the table place?
If we really want to ensure that every kid has a chance to reach his or her potential, we must provide all kids — especially kids in poverty — the resources and supports they need to succeed.
Well, that's absolutely true. It just doesn't have anything at all to do with TeachStrong.
The tide is turning, and we have the chance to help change the narrative about educators and the role you play; to tell a different story about what works and what doesn’t in public education, based on real experience in classrooms across America. And it’s a chance to reclaim the promise of public education so that every public school is a place parents want to send their kids, educators want to work, and kids feel safe and engaged.
Man, Weingarten talks so pretty. But we have meandered a far distance away form our original question, which is why the hell did AFT sign off on a piece of reheated recycled reformster leftovers that put AFT and NEA in the same camp as some of the most relentlessly anti-teacher, anti-public education groups in the country? That's the question I came to hear answered, and I still haven't heard a satisfactory answer to it. I'm still waiting.