It’s a clash of education titans, and definitely worth watching if you have any interest in teacher contracts or union negotiations.
D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee has made national headlines, recently appearing on the cover of Time magazine, and she’s been profiled by major news outlets. Her no-holds-barred approach to reforming the D.C. schools system—undoubtedly one of the most broken in the nation—has piqued the interest of not only educators but the public at large.
While I’m very happy to see Rhee clean house and get serious about education reform, I’ve been concerned her personality, or lack of personality, may stifle many of her efforts. She’s clearly not a team player, and so far her actions have not gone over well with the Washington teachers’ union (which has had its own issues) or some of the players she needs to be engaging.
Enter Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers and another woman who’s watched nationally for her efforts to reform urban schools. While Weingarten’s first interest is protecting the interest of her members, she’s also widely regarded as a reformer in the mold of AFT founder Al Shanker.
Now, Weingarten is coming to Washington to take on Rhee and her proposal to suspend tenure and protections for teachers in exchange for massive salary increases.
“Randi is the most important teachers’ union figure in the country today,” Thomas Toch, co-director of Education Sector, tells the Washington Post. “She’s a pivotal figure in this conversation. The stakes are very high for her in D.C.”