Teachers’ union head offers to talk on tenure and merit pay

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said Nov. 17 that given the economic crisis, her union would be willing to discuss new approaches to issues such as teacher tenure and merit pay, reports the New York Times. "Faced with declining tax revenues, state and local governments are cutting" education budgets nationwide, Weingarten said in a speech to education policy makers in Washington, D.C.
"In the spirit of this extraordinary moment, and as a pledge of shared responsibility, I’ll take the first step," she said. "With the exception of vouchers, which siphon scarce resources from public schools, no issue should be off the table, provided it is good for children and fair to teachers." It is unclear how much practical effect Weingarten’s speech will have on the stance her 1.4-million-member union and its locals take in negotiations with school districts or in lobbying state legislatures. "Randi said she was willing to talk about these things," said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that seeks to increase the number of effective teachers. "But from my experience, the AFT and its locals have always been willing to talk about tough issues. The problem is that they’re not often willing to give in on them."

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