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Weaver Reflects on His Legacy

As he leaves office, Reg Weaver says he hopes his legacy will be one of bringing the union together as a team.

Weaver, who uses the word "union" much more easily than most leaders of the teachers' organizations who prefer terms like "professional association," said in an interview before the beginning of the Representative Assembly, that before he took over as president, "it seemed we were disjointed. ... It felt at times like we were working at cross-purposes."

The locals, he said, would do something, and the national would do something else.

Weaver, who unrolled an initiative yesterday for improving the No Child Left Behind Act, responded to criticism that the NEA had not been as proactive as it could have been when the law first passed, saying that "we cannot go back, we can only go forward." At the time, he said, the 3.2 million-member union was "up against the president of the United States" and had little to no support from other educational organizations on provisions in the NCLB that NEA members saw as harmful.

Going on, he said, he would like to see the organization "function as a well-oiled machine," and that "our mission and core values are achieved." He would not, however, say which direction he hoped his successor, Dennis Van Roekel, would take the union in.

Weaver, who has in recent days been heard talking in support of "enhanced pay" for teachers in hard-to-staff schools and those who are nationally certified, reiterated his continuing opposition to performance pay—something that Sen. Barack Obama, who the NEA is supporting, caused quite a stir by mentioning at last year's Representative Assembly.

As for what he plans to do once he leaves office ... Weaver is not yet talking about that.

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