Friday, July 13, 2018


Day one of the AFT Convention in Pittsburgh and guess who the featured speaker was? You get no prize for clairvoyance, even if you had not heard anything about the event, if your answer was Hillary Clinton.

Will AFT President Randi Weingarten ever move on?

A summary of some of what was said from Weingarten and HIllary is in coverage from WESA in Pittsburgh.

Hillary Clinton pulled few punches in a fiery 25-minute address to the American Federation of Teachers in Downtown Pittsburgh mid-morning Friday. Denouncing President Trump across a range of issues, she warned that “they are trying to rip the heart out of America. .. .They want to turn us against each other. They want to divide and conquer.”

And later on:
She spoke harshly of Trump’s policies on a range of issues like immigration. which have featured immigrant children being taken from their parents at the border, with little apparent thought given to their reunification.
 “The test of any society is how we treat the most vulnerable among us, particularly our youngest, our oldest, our people with disabilities," she said. "And right now, my friends, our country is failing that test. We have never seen such organized cruelty, disdain and contempt for those values.”
Speaking to an assembly that included teachers from the United States and 25 other countries, Clinton also called for opposition to the pending U.S. Supreme Court appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, who Trump has nominated to replace swing justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh is a staunch conservative whose fifth vote on the 9-member Supreme Court could overturn numerous legal precedents cherished by Democrats.
“This nomination holds out the threat of devastating consequences for workers’ rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights, including those to make our own health decisions,” Clinton warned. “It is a blatant attempt by this administration … to reverse decades of progress.”
“I used to worry that that they wanted to turn the clock back to the 1950s. Now I worry that they want to turn it back to the 1850s,” she added. “These will be urgent fights.. … [E]verything that represents the progress we have made over the past 125 years, to make our country freer and fairer, to pursue the dream of a more perfect union, is at stake.”

Clinton urged teachers to educate their students and “keep standing up for the truth ... for evidence, for reason.” But she said voting in November was critical.
For those interested in hearing President Weingarten's views, read on.

The AFT, which boasts over 1.7 million members in education and health care nationwide, was an early supporter in the contested 2016 Democratic primary contest. So early, in fact, that union supporters of Bernie Sanders were upset at how quickly union leaders made their pick.
During her own speech prior to Clinton’s address, Weingarten seemed anxious to keep that in the past. She told members that in November, “We must be together, and we must be all in, which is why I am so glad that both Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders are with us at this convention.”
On Saturday, another potential 2020 Democratic hopeful, Senator Elizabeth Warren, is expected to speak. Sanders is slated to speak at the convention on Sunday. 
In addition to lambasting Trump with remarks of her own, Weingarten laid out a number of challenges facing the union.
She spoke at length about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Janus case. A 5-4 court ruled last month that government unions could not collect dues from employees who opted out of the union. (Employees cannot be compelled to join a union, but because the union negotiates for benefits and working conditions, the court previously ruled that non-members could be charged for the cost of that representation.) The ruling is expected to weaken unions -- especially those who, like teachers, work in the public sector.

Weingarten decried the ruling repeatedly, calling it the work of a “right-wing” court majority that “wants to destroy the aspirations and dreams of working folks.” But she also pledged the union would fight, boasting that its now counted 1,755,000 members – “the highest number ever.” Over a half-million members had “recommitted” to the union – agreeing to remain as members – since January, she said.  
For those who want even more, here is a video feed from AFT from Pittsburgh. I watched some of it and felt I was back at a Delegate Assembly. Scary.
For the record, I fully agree with Randi that the right wing has a three pronged strategy: 1-Suppress the vote, 2-kill the unions, 3-privatize public education. I just hope that she has better ways to stop them from being successful. In case you didn't know, I suggested a more militant approach to fighting Mayor Michael Bloomberg back before she sold us out in the 2005 contract.


Anonymous said...

Trump 2020

evan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Unity stop pretending to be me. James please delete the above racist bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Trump as an anti-Hillary vote and here she shows up again.

I think the biggest problem with the public schools in NYC is a lack of discipline. Public schools have students who misbehave and disrupt the teaching and learning for everyone. These students and their shenanigans hold everyone back. All teachers know that the majority of students do go to school to learn. These "good" students are then exposed to and mingled with the trouble makers and the "good" students lose, the teachers lose, and the school turns into a joke.

I never hear anything about the lack of discipline problem from any politician or union leaders.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading on several blogs about the problem of discipline in NYC schools. Let's assume for the moment that there is truly a problem in some schools, and less of a problem in others [this may be exacerbated by admissions policies etc.].

So, what would be some good solutions, besides just suspending more students? Should a non-academic track with more vocational educational be created? Should specialized charter schools be created for the most struggling students? Should the most difficult students be more evenly distributed across schools? Is there a solution that involves lowering class size, or providing effective resources?

In the past, these students were sent to "special" schools - I don't think the success rate was very high - or kicked out of school.


James Eterno said...

Please stay on topic and let's not call each other names if at all possible. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Randi and Hillary are a marriage made in heaven. Neither is overly concerned about the state of public education as they navigate their respective bubbles.

Abigail Shure

Anonymous said...

I listened to some of the speeches on youtube. I think at some level, they are friends. I don't think that Ms. Weingarten is able to move on. It's easier for some people to reach for the same solutions, rather than explore something different. I think that might be her problem. Need a speaker? Ask my friend Hillary Clinton- even though she supports charter schools, it'll be ok.

That also makes me think, are their any big supporters of public education in politics today? If not that's very sad.

Anonymous said...

Randi stills wants to be secretary of education and she can’t move past it. Randi should resign, she’s the antithesis of a union leader.

Anonymous said...

And Mulgrew is a union leader?

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is her protégé.

evan said... is how to opt out

Anonymous said...

It is this support of neo liberals , Hillary and co, which is going to encourage opt outs. They used us for votes and were encouraged to do so by leaders at the state and national level. The only way to bring about change is to withhold dues. If they don't listen they will perish and that will prove they were useless anyway.

James Eterno said...

Opting out just plays into enemies hands unless you can form a better and different union.

jeff said...

James, with all due respect, the UFT is already gloating that they have 99.2% still in..With that 99.2, you know as well as I that nothing will change. Wait till you see the next contract, none of the hundreds of teacher complaints will be addressed, we will continue to get backloaded, below cost of living raises, we will still be waiting for almost 80% of our retro as we walk in the door in September...The disrespect from students and admin will continue. Whether you agree with that paid parentel deal we got, they added another 3 months onto an already disastrous deal.

Anonymous said...


James Eterno said...

8:54, You have a point but we are not in sync on what to do about it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I remembered- Cynthia Nixon is a big public education supporter-she's got my vote.

Anonymous said...

This speech with a liberal agenda, not an education agenda is why we need the Janus decision.