As a rank and file member in good standing of AFT, I wish to offer my name in nomination for President of the American Federation of Teachers.
I know, I know, you don't believe I have a snowball's chance in hell, and I know, too, that Randi Weingarten has picked her successor from a short list approved by the corporate shills who operate The Union Reform Network (TURN), but hear me out.
There are plenty of good reasons for every teacher in America to take my candidacy seriously and to make sure that their union reps knows who they should vote for when the next election is held or when Weingarten is kicked out (whichever comes first). Please hold your applause.
My first act as President will be to put to work the hundreds of millions of dollars that you as members have provided the organization. I will create a Teacher Legal Defense Fund, created specifically to defend teachers AND parents who are threatened with legal action for carrying out their responsibilities to nurture and to teach the next generation of American citizens.
Specifically, AFT, under my leadership, will defend any teacher or parent with all the resources at AFT's disposal against intimidation, administrative action, or court action resulting from refusal or encouragement toward refusal of any and all high stakes standardized assessment or high stakes grading scheme. Union representatives in every district where AFT operates will be instructed to encourage opting out of any and all high stakes assessment practices.
Furthermore, AFT will use its resources to oppose any political candidate who supports high stakes testing in any form, and the organization will work in conjunction with other organizations to develop slates of candidates in local and state elections that advocate for an end to the "orgy of tabulation" in educational assessment practices.
At the national level, AFT will only support reauthorization of ESEA that contains a ban on high stakes assessment mandates at the federal level, and it will support federal requirements for a five year moratorium on any state or local high stakes testing system planning or implementation.
Under my leadership, AFT will support the continued use of the National Assessment of Educational Progress only after the cut scores have been realigned to reflect realistic human capacity. For almost a quarter century, NAEP norms have been used that are unrealistic, unscientific, and miseducative in defining levels of proficiency.
As president of AFT, I will use my office to actively support state and federal efforts to incentivize and develop policies to end the scourge of segregation of schools and classrooms based on ability, race, beliefs, or socioeconomic status.
The AFT will take a lead in incentivizing programs to bring an end to child poverty. There is a powerful linkage between the fact that the U. S. is ranked second among Western nations in child poverty and the fact that U. S. ranks poorly on international achievement tests. From existing research findings, we know that ending child poverty and economic segregation will raise student achievement, where existing education reforms have failed to do so. We should remember that when we leave out the bottom quintile of our poorest students from segregated and underfunded schools, American schools rank among the best in the world on international tests.
I support excellence and equity equally, and I believe that sameness is the enemy of equality. Our diverse nation deserves schools with high-quality inclusive curricula that serves local community needs, while upholding the constitutional values that make us one nation dedicated to growing democracy here and around the world.
Under my leadership, AFT will support state and federal efforts to create the best teacher preparation programs in the world. I believe that all children deserve great teachers with deep understanding of their subjects and pedagogy, and I believe that great teachers require matching levels of care and compassion for children. I will support increases in teacher pay to close the gap with other professions upon which our society depends, and I will vigorously advocate for and defend teacher due process and academic freedoms.
Finally, I believe there is no one best system of education for all children, and because of that, I support public school choice based on the the creativity and imagination of teachers, parents, and academics to create high quality public schools that represent the deep diversity that makes our nation great. I support public responsibility for public schools, and shirking our duty by turning over our schools to private management must be avoided in order to assure high quality for all children.
I am an educator, a fact that probably disqualifies me in the eyes of the powerful group of corporate insiders that President Weingarten has put charge of all the political entry points at AFT headquarters. But teachers deserve an organization that believes in them and in the public schools, which must remain the responsibility of the public. At this point in history, neither AFT or NEA can claim that mantle. I would like to change that. A lot.