Where the “Broad” Road Will Take AFT
On October 4, 2014, I wrote a post in which I considered numerous actions undertaken by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten over the years, particularly in relation to billionaire corporate reform philanthropist Eli Broad, either via Weingarten’s direct interactions with Broad or in keeping with his publicized privatization agenda.
My finding was that Weingarten behaves as a matter of course like one actively promoting the education privatization agenda.
My post includes 16 incidents in which Weingarten either promotes the corporate reform agenda or gives her support (either overtly or covertly) to others who do so.
All 16 incidents represent actions that are in line with the Broad Foundation agenda. (For a sense of Broad’s priorities, consider Broad’s investments.)
I wrote the post for the same reason I write all of my posts exposing corporate reform: To heighten public awareness since awareness is the necessary precursor to action.
The corporate reform agenda is toxic, and putting a collective bargaining veneer on it does not neutralize its destructiveness.
Furthermore, having a union that has a dominant “caucus” that is really a corporate-reform-serving secret society at its core– coupled with a non-term-limited president beholden to the will of that secret society– only serves to further cook my grits.
I a sooo tired of overcooked grits.
*Unity* on Facebook
As is my habit with all of my blog posts, I posted the Broad-Weingarten entry to numerous FB pages.
I realize that “Unity lives” on one of those pages.
Therefore, I was not surprised to receive three passive-aggressive, counter-posts: One from New Mexico AFT President Stephanie Ly, and two from Central New Mexico Labor Council AFL-CIO VP Sara Attleson.
Perusal of the NM AFT 2012 990 shows Ly’s modest income as a full-time state president (only $52,866); the form also shows NM AFT’s fiscal dependence upon “affiliate assistance”– likely from the national AFT.
As for Attleson, according to the Central NM Labor Council 2013 990, she works zero hours for zero compensation, the same as the remaining six board members. A curiosity.
Here is what Ly posted on FB on October 5, 2014, at 11:44 a.m., to “set me to rights” on Weingarten:
Instead of writing about false things and attacking the people who are working for positive change, some people choose to manipulate things into inaccurate statements and continue to talk about hopelessness and offer zero solutions. Why fight each other when the real fight is with corporations???
There you have it. Those 16 documented incidents? Just me, manipulating an innocent “worker for positive change.”
Here is Attleson’s first FB post, also October 5, 2014, but in the evening (7:57 p.m.):
Reminder that [this group] supports teacher unions and is against the privatization of public education. It is a place to discuss and fight against the privatization of public education. [Group members] may attack the corporate “reformers” all they want. However, it is not a place to attack others personally. A post attacking fellow educators will be taken down. BTW there is an urgent election in NM and we might want to spend our energy fighting against the Koch-funded governor and not those who are helping a supporter of public education by providing financial support and volunteers. Those are the ground rules of national and [this group]. This may not be a group for everyone.
Allow me to note that as is true for most of the FB groups to which I belong, the above group enrolled me on their page.
Moreover, the only contents from the page directly quoted by me are those that serve as a passive “confrontation” directed towards me, not in the comments section, but as stand-alone posts.
My post was not removed, nor were any of my comments.
As to content, Attleson’s first FB post to me is a deflection, as is the second, posted October 6, 2014, at 9:55 p.m. For this second post, Attleson brings retired educator Deborah Meier into the situation:
“I think attacking Randi is not smart, wise, accurate, or useful. Equating her with Broad et al is absurd. We argue with our allies differently than we attack our enemies. Let’s keep our aim directed at those leading the fight to end public education.”- Deborah Meier.
Let me first state that I like and respect Deborah Meier. However, if all it took was a declaration to smooth the undeniable friction Weingarten’s reformer-friendly actions continue to fuel, then I would simply declare Weingarten as one with the sense to never have accepted any money from any privatizing-reform-advancing organization, and I would declare her as having the sense to not involve herself repeatedly in public events in which she openly endorses those with established intentions to promote privatizing reforms.
I would declare Weingarten as telling privatizers who invited her to attend events under some supposed neutrality (attendance that is, by virtue of her status as a national union president, in the public eye an endorsement, whether she believes so or not), “No, thank you.”
In short, I would declare Weingarten untainted by corporate reform associations– not the least of which are the associations that have led her to both accept corporate reformer cash and spend AFT funds on corporate-reform-endorsed projects.
However, I cannot declare Weingarten innocent, and neither can any other person.
Searching for *Constant Criticism* of Broad
With Attleson’s posting of Meier’s comment fresh in my mind, I happened to read a post by Los Angeles teacher Leonard Isenberg, an open exchange with Weingarten regarding the education situation in California.
What caught my attention was Weingarten’s statement, “…we [AFT] have consistently criticized… Broad since 2007….”
So, I undertook a search of AFT’s “consistent criticism” of Broad.
Here is what I found:
First, a search of “American Federation of Teachers Broad Foundation” took me to the AFT website page entitled Foundation Funds, a list of 15 foundations that AFT decided to feature on its website but “not endorse”(??).
Among them is the Broad Foundation:
A variety of foundations support a wide array of efforts to improve schools. You can explore grant opportunities by visiting funders’ Web sites. Look to local foundations in your areas for grants as well. While the AFT does not endorse particular foundations’ work, the following is a list of some major foundations and trusts that fund school improvement efforts:
The Eli Broad Foundation: The Broad Foundation focuses on improving urban K-12 public education through better governance, management and labor relations. www.broadfoundation.org/home.html
The foundations page dates back to at least June 2010.
Weingarten’s and AFT’s “consistent criticism” of Broad: A longstanding promotional on the AFT website.
In my search, I could find no AFT criticism of Broad. But I did find this AFT link, a justification of the charter schools that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) opened in 2008, as well as AFT’s justification for charter schools in general.
It seems that AFT believes Albert Shanker’s original conception of the charter school can somehow be shaped into the public-school- exploiting, test-driven charters that corporate reformers such as Broad promote today as a means of supplanting the community public school. It cannot.
The current charter push is meant to produce a “churn” indispensable to the “disruptive and transformational change” that Broad promotes.
In fact, one of the UFT charters illustrated the desired Broad “churn” via its having had five principals in seven years, as well as teacher and student attrition. The student attrition notably and negatively affected the school’s financial condition.
Not a success, and not what Shanker envisioned at all.
According to Chalkbeat in February 2013, the UFT charters (now under one roof) “[face] an automatic “death penalty” in 2015 if academic performance doesn’t improve.”
The Death Penalty
In the UFT charter, we are left with an apt metaphor for the outcome of the union’s trying to “negotiate” corporate reform: Some purchased time under the shadow of a looming “death penalty.”
This is where the Weingarten-led dance with traditional-public-school-destroying privatization will lead both the union and the teaching profession.
No amount of FB fluff criticizing me for pointing out as much will stop it.
Schneider is also author of the ed reform whistleblower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education