American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten announced just a few moments ago that the union has reached the 1.5 million member mark. It has added almost 70,000 new dues-paying members in the past two years across all of its divisions, not just teachers. Weingarten, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Antonia Cortese, and Executive Vice President Lorretta Johnson danced on stage to "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" after the announcement. (Kind of an odd choice, as that was former National Education Association President Reg Weaver's favorite grand-entrance song, but never mind.) Quite a different story at the NEA, where membership has ...


American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had a sit-down chat with reporters after her keynote address to the AFT convention Thursday, and there was some in-depth discussion about what's probably the top teacher-quality issue on the table today: evaluation. AFT officials have said for a while now that over 50 locals are piloting teacher-evaluation systems based on a framework developed by the union. I asked about these districts' progress in implementing the plans. Some of them, like Pittsburgh, New Haven, Conn., and apparently now Cleveland, have put evaluations at the center of newly inked contracts, while others are just ...


In her keynote address today, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten sought to present two sides of herself and her work for the union, as both reformer and firebrand. The union, she said, has been willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations about reforms to teacher evaluation and due process. But it won't hesitate to speak out against politicians and pundits who are using the mantle of reform to attack teachers. Weingarten had a lot of tough ground to cover in this speech, and it's a delicate balancing act to advance some reform ideas and fight against others. No doubt ...


American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten will be giving her opening keynote in just a short while. But before we get to that, here are a couple of guiding questions to pay attention to over the course of this convention. • What will AFT delegates' reaction be to recent education developments, like the Race to the Top? What do they make of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was the source of ire for National Education Association delegates earlier this week? • The AFT's Innovation Fund will announce its new grantees this Saturday. Who will the new grantees be? • President...


This year's NEA Representative Assembly ended at 7:24 p.m, and there are a few additional things worth mentioning. • The delegation had a pair of idiosyncratic votes on two back-to-back items. The first one, New Business Item 47, which would have directed the union to publish an article in an internal newsletter promoting national-board certification, was voted down. A second one, NBI 48, directs the union to secure contract language that "maintains, establishes, and promotes" subsidies and scholarships to earn the credential. That one passed. • With the economy struggling, delegates were generally quite concerned about the cost of new...


Education historian and advocate Diane Ravitch, the author of the bestseller The Life and Death of the Great American School System, came to the RA today to collect her "Friend of the NEA" award. She got a standing ovation after her speech panning the No Child Left Behind Act, the Race to the Top, charter schools, the "privatization" of public schools, merit pay, and efforts to shift away from seniority and tenure, among many other things. Suffice it to say that with an audience like the RA, which has big problems with all those things, her speech was akin to ...


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has come in for quite a bit of criticism at this year's National Education Association Representative Assembly. But the NEA delegates moved swiftly to table New Business Item 44, which would have encouraged President Obama to replace Duncan with "a person who is aligned with the interests of the NEA, its members, and especially the students it serves." In my four years of covering the RA, I have never actually seen something like this happen. Usually unpopular resolutions are defeated, but not removed entirely from consideration. That said, the general tenor of this ...


Just joining us this Monday morning for the 2010 National Education Association Representative Assembly? You've got some catching up to do, because Teacher Beat's been blogging all weekend. NEA Delegates Vote 'No Confidence' in Race to the Top: The item passed, but not every delegate wanted it to. It's Easy Being Green: Find out what the NEA is doing to reduce waste, at the RA and at its headquarters building. 2010 Greatest Education Governor Award goes to Maryland's Gov. Martin O'Malley. (He didn't flex his biceps or play a duet with NEA VP Lily Eskelsen. Too bad.) Also make sure ...


The National Education Association gave its annual "America's Greatest Education Governor Award" this year to Maryland's Martin O'Malley. As governor, he's overseen record increases in K-12 education spending, the provision of school-construction funds, and the creation of an independent labor board to handle bargaining disputes, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said during his introduction. (Formerly, such disputes were resolved by the State Board of Education.) O'Malley's speech mostly reiterated those accomplishments. But it also contained a few interesting tidbits, and omissions: • He took a swipe at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who's had an acrimonious relationship with the NEA's state...


Christy Levings, the chair of the National Education Association's ESEA Advisory Committee, gave union members an update today on the NEA's progress in advancing changes to the law, currently known as No Child Left Behind. Her presentation was notable more for calling on the delegates to the NEA's Representative Assembly to beef up their lobbying than for any specifics she provided on the union's progress so far. It was clear, though, that the union does not want to see the Race to the Top or the Education Department's four school-turnaround models included in the rewrite. "We need to get ESEA ...


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