•Last December, Weingarten herself made a public display of solidarity with Central Falls, Rhode Island teachers who were suspected of staging a “sickout” in order to score cheap political points against the local school board. In fact, things are so bad in Central Falls that many high students did not receive a grade during a marking period last fall because the students had not received adequate classroom instruction time.
•In the Rochester City School District, the teacher union passed a “no confidence” vote in the district’s superintendent, in hopes of wearing down the superintendent and school board during contentious contract negotiations.
•In a recent letter to union members, Indiana Federation of Teachers President Rick Muir repeatedly refers to the state's education reform efforts as a "war." "Make no mistake about it," Muir writes, "we will lose the war if we sit back and do nothing."
So Weingarten's appeal for “collaboration” with reformers in order to solve problems instead of to win arguments does not match very recent teacher union behavior. It seems more like a clever strategy to hijack the momentum of the reform movement and prevent real change from occurring.
Unions feed off conflict, often pitting teachers against administrators and school board members. Weingarten's poll-tested buzz words don't paper over that fact.
The unions’ desire to work with reformers is just a last-ditch attempt to obstruct meaningful education reform. Lawmakers in Idaho, Tennessee, Indiana, New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio, are on the brink of historic education reforms. The teacher unions are fighting for their very survival. That’s why they suddenly want to work together.
For decades, the unions defended the status quo in public education. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.
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