In Partnership with The 74

Weingarten comes out swinging: attacking Vergara, Duncan

Vanessa Romo | July 11, 2014



Weingarten at AFT conventionIn a fiery speech delivered to her core constituents, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers went on the assault today, taking on the verdict of the Vergara trial, criticizing Common Core testing and singling out political figures for reprimand.

Striking a more combative tone than she used earlier this month when she shared a stage with LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, Weingarten sounded more like an opponent to Democratic leaders than an ally. She rebuked Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Mayor Eric Garcetti, for ‘praising’ the verdict of the landmark Vergara case which ruled California teacher tenure laws can be detrimental to students, saying the union would push back against any public figures that supports the Vergara decision.

The verdict, she said, “pre-supposes that for kids to win, teachers must lose and nothing can be further from the truth… we will fight it – in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion.”

But she stopped short of calling for Duncan’s resignation. In contrast to her counterpart at the National Education Association convention last week. which passed a resolution for Duncan to resign, Weingarten navigated more carefully. “We need a Secretary of Education who walks our walk, and who fights our fight… we are deeply disappointed that this Department of Education has not lived up to that standard.”

When asked by reporters after the event if she supported the NEA action, she would only say that, “I would hope he listens to what people are saying.” She said that although the leadership would not present a resolution, it could still come from the floor. “I am 1000% percent behind any action that the members at the convention [take] on this issue.”

Speaking with passion to a packed room of union delegates from all over the country, Weingarten commended teachers on their deep commitment to education and to the children they serve. “We are the front lines for children, the first responders to poverty,” she said. “We must create new coalitions and through them the groundswell needed to reclaim the promise of America.”

But she spent the bulk of her hour-long speech railing on those she said were bent on the union’s destruction, and she urging the rank and file to not sit back. “While we will never out-spend our opponents, we can out-work them and out-organize them — but we have to vote.”

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