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AFT on NCLB: From Tepid Support to Red-Hot Rhetoric

It sounds as if the AFT has gone from "Let's Get It Right" to "Let's Get Rid of It."

At the union's convention, outgoing President Ed McElroy promised that AFT will work with the next administration to "create a new law," Vaishali Honawar reports from Chicago. Incoming President Randi Weingarten believes the law “is too badly broken to be fixed,” according to Sam Dillon of The New York Times, who got a preview of Weingarten's acceptance speech.

AFT's about-face happened because its leadership is changing and because NCLB has become a punching bag for everyone from George Will to the scriptwriters for "Family Guy." But the union leaders' rhetoric doesn't mean they oppose everything that NCLB stands for. Weingarten has compromised on pay-for-performance in New York City, and she's put out a detailed plan for school-based accountability. Both of these issues will be at the heart of the debate over NCLB's future.

Weingarten looks to be willing to play ball in Washington. Just how far she will change where the AFT stands depends on a lot factors—none of them bigger than the results of Election Day.

UPDATE: Vaishali files a story from Chicago with this quote from Weingarten:

“NCLB has outlived whatever usefulness it ever had. Conceived by accountants, drafted by lawyers, and distorted by ideologues, it is too badly broken to be fixed.”

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