American Federation of Teachers: 'Remediating' Duncan and Retaining the 'Corrupted' Common Core

It sure would be nice if a national union would aggressively confront the pro-privatization education agenda emanating from the Oval Office.
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I'm wondering what of substance was accomplished thus far at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention in Los Angeles July 11-14, 2014.

On July 13, 2014, AFT was supposed to consider asking for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's resignation. The National Education Association (NEA) passed a resolution on July 4, 2014, asking Duncan to resign. However, as education historian Diane Ravitch points out, Duncan is only following the orders of President Obama:

I can personally vouch for the fact that Duncan is doing exactly what Obama wants. In the fall of 2009, I had a private meeting with Secretary Duncan, just the two of us, no staff. It was very pleasant. He was charming, pleasant, and took notes. I asked him, "Why are you traveling the country to sell Race to the Top accompanied by Reverend Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich? Why Gingrich?" His answer: "because the President asked me to."

Thus, asking Duncan to resign -- while a refreshing thought -- is no solution. Obama would just fill the slot with another yes-man.

It sure would be nice if a national union would aggressively confront the pro-privatization education agenda emanating from the Oval Office.

But no. AFT decided upon a watered-down version of the NEA resolution: AFT resolved to ask Obama to put Duncan on a remediation plan:

The American Federation of Teachers approved a resolution this afternoon calling for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign if he does not improve under a plan to be implemented by President Barack Obama.

The "improvement plan" would include the requirement that Duncan enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Equity Commission's "Each and Every Child" report; change the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top "test-and-punish" accountability system to a "support-and-improve" model; and "promote rather than question" teachers and school staff.

Duncan is following Obama's education plan, and AFT wants Obama to remediate Duncan.


On to another Wonderlandish AFT outcome: It is no surprise to anyone familiar with the pull of New York's Unity Caucus (and familiar with the national-level version, the Progressive Caucus) that after 40 minutes of open floor debate on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), AFT delegates voted by two-thirds majority to continue to support CCSS -- even though now, AFT maintains CCSS has been "corrupted":

The AFT will also consider a resolution -- drafted by its executive council -- asserting that the promise of the Common Core has been corrupted by political manipulation, administrative bungling, corporate profiteering and an invalid scoring system designed to ensure huge numbers of kids fail the new math and language arts exams that will be rolled out next spring.

So what is the AFT decision? Keep the corrupted CCSS and offer "grants" to pacify teachers into believing they have influence over what the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) own.

AFT has no leverage to negotiate any altering of the CCSS completed in 2010.

Regarding the AFT five-years-too-late "grant plan," CCSSO offered no comment upon Politico's request.

CCSS was completed four years ago, in June 2010. Now, in July 2014, AFT admits CCSS has problems -- but it still wants to remain married to CCSS.


In March 2014, Weingarten told CCSSO that she planned to support CCSS no matter the AFT member pushback in July:

Weingarten added that she expects that many of her members would call for outright opposition to the standards during the AFT's summer convention, even though both the AFT and NEA support the standards and Weingarten said she wouldn't back away from the common core. [Emphasis added.]

Weingarten will promote a resolution stating that CCSS is "corrupted," and she will support grants for teachers to rewrite a CCSS that was finished in 2010 and over which she has no direct control regarding revision. And never mind the fixed nature of CCSS, which purposely makes it ever-suited to national marketing (including potential, nationwide standardized testing). But she will not forsake CCSS, nothing doing.

She kept her word to CCSSO. That must be worth something in her world.

In my world, it's just another pensive facial expression and tilt of my head.

Originally posted July 13, 2014, at

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