"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 27, 2017

Weingarten: AFT "very much aligned" with TURN

In 1997 the Clinton Administration was well on the way to realizing its goal of 3,000 charter schools by the year 2000, and the future looked bright for corporate education reformers of the charter industry.  Both Republican and Democratic corporate ed reformers were jumping on the charter bandwagon.  Even so, a significant stumbling block remained: teachers' unions.

Albert Shanker, who served as AFT president until his death in February 1997, had once been a champion of charter schools as centers of innovation, but by the early 1990s, Shanker came to understand that charter schools were quickly morphing into tools to corporatize and privatize public education.  Although Shanker had hoped that charters would provide diverse progressive experiments that could help to integrate public schools, Shanker recoiled at the segregated, exploitative charters that embodied the preferred paternalistic model of corporate philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad.

Shanker's death offered an opportunity that Eli Broad would not miss to shape the future of AFT in Broad's image.  

Broad was quick to provide several million reasons for AFT's new president, Sandra Feldman, to restore AFT's positive vision of charter schools and to embrace the agenda of corporate ed reformers.  The implantation of the corporate cancer, The Union Reform Network (TURN), was the result of Broad's efforts, which then and now was led by AFT corporate mouthpiece, Adam Urbanski.

Like a disease eating away the union body that Shanker had built up during the previous two decades, TURN sought to make AFT and NEA into assets for advancing the corporate reform agenda.  AFT President, Sandra Feldman did not disappoint the corporate reformers, as she embraced charter schools, as well as a steroidal levels of testing accountability that came with NCLB in 2001.  She helped design NCLB, which was used to soften public resistance to the spread of more charters to replace the "failing" public schools.

Feldman was also an advocate for NCLB's utterly corrupt Reading First, which spent billions of federal dollars to promote programs that proved to be total failures in terms of improving children's reading skills and interests.

Feldman's successor, Charles McElroy, continued Feldman's policies during a transitional period from 2004 to 2008, and he helped to prepare the ground for the coming of Randi Weingarten, corporate reformers' choice to lead AFT for another generation of lucrative charterizing. The year before Weingarten was installed as AFT president, McElroy bizarrely testified that charters had helped AFT "accomplish the things we have been fighting for."

Since 1997, TURN has metastisized in 34 AFT and NEA affiliates, and the national TURN office lists Michael Mulgrew and Adam Urbanski among its leaders. 

Before becoming Randi Weingarten's choice for AFT's Executive VP, Mary Ann Ricker served as president of St. Paul's AFT affiliate, which has been a hotbed of TURN activity since 2005, when Ricker became President of the local.  For instance,  Ricker was instrumental in establishing the Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools, a charter school authorizer created by the ST. Paul AFT local and funded in part by the national union, AFT.  The Minnesota Guild has been responsible providing financial support for some of the lowest-rated charter schools in St. Paul.  Read this piece to get the big picture on AFT complicity in Minnesota's charter industry.

So now it comes as no surprise that Randi Weingarten has come out with a full-throated endorsement of the TURN agenda, which would make the AFT and NEA more effective weapons of corporate education reform's war on public education:
Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, told In These Times she can recall when her former union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City, became a founding TURN member. At the time, she says, UFT was seen as a “risk-taking” local for joining this reform-minded coalition. Today, however, Weingarten says TURN is seen not as unusual—but as the standard operating procedure for teachers’ unions. She added that AFT’s values are “very much aligned” with TURN’s. Weingarten, and the union is proud to join with TURN to turn their ideas into reality. 
The NEA did not return multiple requests for comment.
Weingarten's announcement follows Diane Ravitch's recent endorsement of the TURN agenda. With such high-powered endorsements of the corporate ed agenda, we may expect to see, perhaps, the eventual awakening of the parents and teachers who have been lulled into supporting the enemies of the values that public education advocates hold dear.

1 comment:

  1. No one can be trusted to tell the whole truth anymore. We will be pulling my 8th grader to put him into a private, religious, all boy high school that doesn't promote Common Chore and it's evil twin the BS test. They don't promote AP for all, they are supportive of fine arts and strive to teach the "whole child". No data collection or SEL. Emphasis on sciences and the social sciences. We will have to pay dearly for all of this, but it is worth the peace of mind that my child will be receiving a good and well rounded education that is devoid of government intrusion. Public education is in sad shape and I hope that one day (when my children give me grandchildren) that this whole mess will be sorted out. I truly believe in public education....but not the form of public education that is currently being promoted. And as I asked students at the HS open house, I found that most of them have come from the public school systems due to the current reforms, CC, testing and data collection. Non religious folks fleeing the public systems for religious schools should send a signal to the teachers unions?