Education Week's teacher-obsessed reporters have a new place to air their thoughts. On our new blog, "Teacher Beat," my colleague Stephen Sawchuk and I will talk about all things teacher. Teacher policy, teacher quality, teacher preparation, the teachers' unions ... if it has anything to do with teacher policy and politics, we'll be blogging about it. Feel welcome to join in, and do keep us posted on your thoughts in the comments section. We look forward to seeing you there!...


Teachers are fun, aren't they? At least that's what I have discovered writing about them for the past few years. And now that the teacher unions' conventions are all in the past, we here at Education Week don't want the party to end. Starting soon, we will bring you a new blog focused entirely on teacher issues: teachers' unions, teacher policy, teacher education ... you name it, you will find us nattering about it right here, in these very pages. So sit up straight and keep your eyes peeled. There's more to come....


The NEA and AFT often get clubbed together as the "national teachers' unions," but the differences between them are stark and many. Take the conventions, for instance. Compared with the NEA, the AFT's convention looks decidedly less education-focused and more about issues ranging from labor and organizing to international relations and human rights. It is also much smaller—less than one-third the size of the NEA convention—and its delegates are a much milder, less noisy lot. This year, one of the high-profile events of the AFT convention was a labor rally held in support of the workers of Resurrection...


Soon after she was announced as the new president of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers this morning, Randi Weingarten went after the No Child Left Behind law, all cannons blazing. She called the federal law a four-letter word, and vowed to work to overhaul it. NCLB, she said, is not about teaching, but about testing. "By misdefining achievement, relying too heavily on paper-and-pencil tests narrowing and dumbing down the curriculum, and stressing sanctions over supports, NCLB has become a blunt instrument for attacking, not assisting, our public schools," she said. Ouch. Ms. Weingarten, who was long expected ...


Will the two national teachers' unions never get on the same page, even with NCLB, which both dislike? Just this month, the NEA finally appeared to have come around to the idea that it should work to improve the No Child Left Behind law, rather than oppose it completely. But even as it released a list of suggestions to improve the law, the AFT—which a number of years ago released its recommendations for improving NCLB—has gone and declared that it wants the current version of the law thrown out the window. Delegates voted this morning, with no arguments...


Delegates also voted this morning to support a resolution urging all locals to consider peer-review and -assistance programs. The union's Toledo affiliate pioneered this program 27 years ago, and Fran Lawrence, the local's president, said there exists strong consensus among teachers in favor of it. "Nine out of 10 of our members for 27 years have supported peer review and assistance: That's solidarity," she said, responding to one delegate's concern that asking senior teachers to evaluate other teachers would create divisions among educators. The resolution brought out an impressive turnout of speakers. Besides Lawrence, Randi Weingarten, the president of the ...


There were no boos this time. In fact, there even was fairly strong applause. When Barack Obama spoke this morning via live satellite feed from California to 3,000 AFT delegates who have congregated in his hometown of Chicago, he appeared to have a good sense that this was a crowd more open than that at the NEA to his ideas on performance pay and charter schools. "I applaud AFT for your leadership in representing charter school teachers and support staff all across this country, and for even operating your own charters in New York," he said. "Because we know ...


AFT delegates this morning approved a dues increase, partly to pay for the union's Solidarity Fund that fights local efforts to cut public education funding and teacher benefits. Locals will now pay $15.35 instead of $14.70 per member, and the amount will increase to $16 per member the following year....


This might not have been the best time for the AFT to go to Chicago. Even as the biennial convention is being held here, in what was the birthplace of the national union, there is a kettle of fish smelling up the local AFT affiliate led by president Marilyn Stewart. This morning, delegates walking into the convention hall were greeted by the union's vice-president, Ted Dallas, handing out fliers emblazoned with "Union Democracy Dumped in Chicago." Dallas, who ran on Stewart's slate for the past two elections, has been charged with lavish spending on his union credit card and the ...


Hillary Clinton gave a "get-out-the-vote-for-Obama" speech to more than 3,000 AFT delegates this morning, focusing more on what might happen if a Democrat didn't win the White House this November rather than on any education issues. "There is so much at stake in this election...Making this victory happen will require AFT, 1.4 million strong," said Clinton who was the union's first choice for president before she pulled out of the race. Clinton, dressed in sunny yellow, took the dais to enthusiastic applause (there were no NEA-like noisemakers, though). She pointed out she has served with Barack Obama ...


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  • Jenny-Lynne Cyrille: why are we going BACK to the issue of PRP? read more
  • john thompson: Mary, I'm opposed to merit pay also. I don't think read more
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