Friday, August 19, 2011

AFT President Randi Weingarten talks reform

In this interview with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Truthout blogger Amy Dean gets the union leader to talk about a back-to-school season in which teachers "are preparing to meet a new wave of attacks on public education and on themselves personally."

Dean begins the interview with the observation that across the country, teachers and their unions are under assault by politicians whose number one goal is the privatization of public education.

"Little would you know, from this assault," Dean writes, "that some of the states with the best public schools in the country are those with the strongest teachers' unions. "

Weingarten's passionate defense of teachers and the teaching profession is bracing.

"Teachers and kids are totally and completely interconnected," says Weingarten. "Teachers advocate for things that they need that are in the interest of kids and vice versa. Trying to divide teachers from kids is only a way of hurting what parents and students need to create
opportunity in this country."

When the subject of teacher accountability comes up, Weingarten notes that AFT "has worked to introduce a system of evaluation and professional development that goes beyond superficial 'snapshot' evaluations of teachers and that also allows them to engage curriculum more substantive than mere rote teaching for a standardized test."

The union, she says, developed "a framework for a comprehensive and meaningful evaluation system that...measured teachers' performance in multiple ways that included teacher practice as well as student learning."

Around the nation, Weingarten says, over 150 school districts are using all or part of the AFT model for evaluating teachers.

The full interview is worth a read. Check it out here.

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