Someone who is a disruptor by birth and by training does not become president of the American Federation of Teachers. And building continuous, sustainable reform is not really the key to leadership of one of the country’s entrenched labor unions. The path to power there has more to do with concession on a lot of issues that might matter deeply to more principled, and more informed, activists.
As a starry-eyed profile of Randi Weingarten, the article is pretty comprehensive. As a look at the future of education reform from one of America’s leading journals of opinion, it is pretty weak. Sure, the Prospect supports Weingarten and her work at the American Federation of Teachers. But merely supporting the union doesn’t mean that the Prospect’s critical judgment needs to be subsumed to starry-eyed cheerleading.
A good piece on education reform should look at the tough issues the U.S. will need to cover in the coming years. This means not just what the unions need to give up, but also what policymakers and the public need to understand in order to see real change. Standardized testing, No Child Left Behind, alternative teacher certification, vocational programs, extended day and/or extended year schools, education funding, and the proper role of the federal, state, and local governments in education are far more important things to consider with regard to the future of education reform than what Weingarten said in her last speech. But the Prospect piece fails to address the major issues in education reform, and ultimately looks like it might feel more comfortable in something like American Educator—the magazine put out by the American Federation of Teachers.