We knew it was only a matter of time until Randi Weingarten, the grand Pooh Bah of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), would come swooping in to Providence under the guise of “it’s for the kids.” And we were right—the Providence Teachers’ Union event today is literally called “It’s About Our Kids.” Weingarten is a powerful fixture in the education landscape and she travels all over the country to support teachers on strike, malign alternative paths to teaching, impugn charter schools and other forms of school choice while all the while making excuses for generations of students who are not learning.
None of this is to say that Randi Weingarten doesn’t care about children. I believe she does care—she is a former social studies teacher. But people need to understand that she is paid half a million dollars a year to push an adult-centered agenda. Sometimes that agenda aligns with what’s best for students. But often it doesn’t and when that is the case, her professional obligation is to put adults at the center of the conversation. The AFT does not pay her half a million dollars to be student-centered. On the contrary, when what’s best for students is in direct conflict with what the adults want, she will always side with the grown-ups.
So let’s ask her a few questions during her fly-by visit to Rhode Island:
How is it that a high spending state like ours can be so low performing?
How is it that your union opposes—on the record— a bill that would make it a crime for teachers to have sexual relationships with their students?
Can you defend the fact that the current Providence teachers contract does not require teachers to attend parent-teacher conferences?
You are suddenly here now but where where have you been all these years when you knew that Providence children had been collateral damage of a dysfunctional system for decades.
Many of us are looking forward to hearing answers to these questions — she will certainly answer all of them if she is sincere in her claim that the visit is, “about our kids.”
And one last thing—Randi needs to stop taking cheap shots at our new commissioner, Angelica Infante-Green. Unlike Randi’s union that has been a permanent player in the catastrophe in Providence, Infante-Green was not here for any of it.
A mirror might come in handy today for Ms. Weingarten.