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

July 13, 2014

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 2010Now, 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.


Like my writing? Read my newly-released ed “reform” whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education


  1. Hannah permalink

    How long til the next election??? (sighs & shakes head)

  2. Candyce Watsey permalink

    It appears folks at high levels in the AFT have sold their souls. CC$$ is just wrong. Time for a counterrevolution.

  3. I find this beyond comprehension: “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.” I thought unions were to protect and advocate for their members…how is this either, when the clearly detrimental CCSS initiative will hurt and essentially destroy public school teaching as we know it today???

    • pdxteacher permalink

      The answer to your question is that the AFT and the NEA both have accepted millions of dollars from the Common Core funders.

  4. Viv Barker permalink

    Time for AFT to connect the dots publicly. They’re almost there. They’ve gone on record to support the idea that the NYS implementation was terrible. They’ve recommended a moratorium on making student CCSS testing results “high stakes” for teacher evaluation. Now it’s time to insist that the CCSS be subject to examination, feedback, & change by the people that are required to use it– the teachers.

  5. The nice thing about this convention was that teachers could see how the AFT functions, and how obvious it is that Randi is not working on rank and file’s behalf. On your page I won’t go so far as to say she’s corrupt, but you are surely aware that that’s what is and has been said about her. Her well-oiled UNITY political apparatus in the hall was obvious. The slap against the Chicago CORE group was a slap against all the “boots on the ground” types that have paid dues in everything but blood. Randi even has a just shy of 50K facebook “activist” group to give her PR cover and remind us all that “together we are stronger.” As an educated person, networking with other educated people, I can’t tell you how offensive platitudes like that are. No one remains on the side of teachers and students. There are deals being made all over the place. We have been sold out at every level.

    Klonsky drew it best:

  6. cyn3wulf permalink

    I don’t see how Weingarten can be anything other than corrupt. It’s the only thing I can think of that makes this senselessness make sense. Given what’s going on in NYC, one would think that the NY delegation would be at the forefront of wanting to dump CCSS and anything that has anything to do with it. Maybe it’s time for a new national union…

  7. I have to applaud you for your stand on CC and Weingarten. I am retired now after being a public school educator on the secondary level and diagnostician for over 30 years. I was avid Union until I challenged leadership and then they bulled me off the board. I did not think there was anyone left who could actually through intelligence, credentials, research, and resources be able to write blog after blog that I, who just three days ago celebrated my 61st b-day and have “been there, done that and bought all the educationl, union and anti charter-anti privatization-anti Chief for change tshirts” would enjoy reading and cannot wait for the next installment to come out. You speak the truth and do not sugar coat what’s going on in the educatinal realm. I didn’t think I’d ever live to see the day when someone else’s thoughts in education were the same as mine. Just keep up the exposures..Someday the pendulum will swing back. I may not see it but you’re young….you will…
    Thank you Mercedes.

  8. specialeducator permalink

    The pendulum isn’t going anywhere. It’s permanently stuck. We are on a one way elevator, and it’s headed down. Unless we do something radical to stop it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider on AFT Resolutions | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Educational Policy Information
  3. Ed News, Tuesday, July 15, Edition | tigersteach

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