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ERIC Number: EJ982585
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Aug-8
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Tension Builds over AFT Reform Agenda
Sawchuk, Stephen
Education Week, v31 n37 p1, 21 Aug 2012
Can a teachers' union successfully be both a hardball-playing defender of its rights and a collaborative force for the common good? It is both a question of philosophy and, increasingly, one of policy direction for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), whose biennial convention in Detroit showed delegates grappling with the tension between the two approaches to unionism. Though the AFT has, in recent years, been viewed as the less militant of the two national teachers' unions, its delegates spoke forcefully against attacks on unions that have been couched in the guise of education reform, took a stand against the high-stakes use of standardized testing, and passed a "solidarity pledge" on behalf of local affiliates it asserts have been subject to unjust bargaining situations. At the same time, the union's president, Randi Weingarten, continued to call for affiliates to adopt a "solution-driven unionism"--a phrase that appeared to be a further gloss on her long-standing call for unions to collaborate or reach compromises with management. While the 1.5 million-member AFT hasn't seen the slide in membership faced by the larger National Education Association (NEA), its members were no less worked up about political attacks on unions than were NEA delegates, who met in Washington a few weeks earlier. During the AFT convention, held in Detroit July 27-30, the union passed unanimously a "special order of business"--a resolution expressing solidarity with affiliates under "hostile bargaining environments." The resolution, which asserts that "anti-labor policies promoted in the guise of education reform are now being replicated nationally in a viral experiment to destroy teachers' unions," directs the AFT to support locals' strike actions and educate members about such "assaults." And its executive committee successfully sponsored a resolution that qualified the union's position on the appropriate use of standardized testing. It states that testing should be used to inform instruction, rather than to punish schools or teachers. Months before the resolution's approval, AFT leaders had already signaled a willingness to take a harder line on testing, by refusing to endorse an accountability plan for teacher training by the U.S. Department of Education. The plan proposes the use of standardized-test scores, among other measures, to hold teachers' colleges accountable for their graduates. (The NEA, typically the union more critical of standardized tests, publicly supported the federal plan.)
Editorial Projects in Education. 6935 Arlington Road Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5233. Tel: 800-346-1834; Tel: 301-280-3100; e-mail: customercare@epe.org; Web site: http://www.edweek.org/info/about/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A