AFT President comes to Chicago Teachers Union and explains growing movement against punitive 'school reform' as Washington D.C. continues to discuss the continuation of the ESEA law... earlier she had Tweeted in support of the PARCC Opt Out...

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, came to Chicago on April 1, 2015, to speak to the City Club at noon. Later in the afternoon, she arrived at the April meeting of the 600-members CTU House of Delegates to tell the delegates her support for the protests against high-stakes testing. Weingarten devoted a good bit of the time of her brief remarks to reminding the delegates that in Washington the current grass roots activism is having an impact on how the federal government is handling the renewal of ESEA (the Elementary Secondary Education Act), which has been called "No Child Left Behind" since it became law with bipartisan support during the administration of President George W. Bush.

After speaking earlier in the day at Chicago's City Club, AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke for a few minutes (above) during the April 1, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates. She quickly left without taking questions, which many of the delegates had, and without staying for the powerful panel on the Opt Out movement against PARCC in Chicago. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.She noted that the original intent of the law -- and its activities for most of its 50 year life -- had been to help poor children's education. Only during the past few years, since the gathering strength of the corporate "school reform" movement based on "standards and accountability" has the original purpose of the law been distorted and used for teacher bashing and privatization attacks on public schools. She noted also that thanks to the kinds of activism shown in Chicago by the CTU, even the "research" on school reform has become more honest. She told the delegates that most researchers now state that teachers can only influence about ten percent of the outcomes in a child's life, and that conditions such as poverty have a much greater impact than teachers and schools.

Although she was asked to stay for a panel on the PARCC Opt Out that was on the meeting agenda, Weingarten said that she had to catch a plane back to Washington, D.C. but that she would watch the video of the meeting that was being made by an AFT videographer. Then she quickly left without taking questions from the delegates, some of whom wanted to ask her about the shifts in AFT policy and practice since the July 2014 AFT convention, which featured a confrontation between Weingarten's supporters from New York and delegates from the Chicago Teachers Union. The CTU had presented a resolution to the AFT convention opposing the so-called "Common Core." The resolution was defeated in committee (which was packed by New York) and then in a debate on the floor of the 3,000-delegate convention.

Her abrupt departure from the CTU meeting on April 1, 2015 left the Chicago delegates who had spoken powerfully on the issues of Common Core and overtesting in July 2014 with many remaining questions.


Accoridng to Diane Ravitch's blog, earlier in the day on April 1, 2015, Randi had tweeted in support of the Opt Out against PARCC that has been sweeping the country, with some of the most powerful movements in New York and Chicago. Here is Ravitch's report:

BREAKING NEWS: AFT President Randi Weingarten Endorses Opt Out!

By Diane Ravitch

This is great news!

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted and wrote on her Facebook page yesterday that she supports parents who opt out of the PARCC tests. She had previously endorsed opting out when participating in a parent-teacher rally at Fort Drum, New York. Yesterday she said that if she were a parent of children in the public schools of New York, she would opt out too.

Opting out is not about helping the teachers' union or opposing accountability. It is a clear, unambiguous message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control. Testing is not teaching. Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong. The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools. Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd "cut scores" (passing mark) pegged to NAEP's proficient level. Most children will "fail" (for the last two years, nearly 70% of students in New York did not reach "proficient.") We are the most over tested nation in the world. Enough!

Any politician who advocates for the tests should do one simple thing: Take the eighth grade math test and publish their scores.

Thank you, Randi, for personally and unambiguously endorsing opt out! Encourage your members across the nation to join those who are defending their students and their profession. It is hard to stand up alone; in unity there is strength.

She wrote on her Facebook page:

I have been in NY a lot fighting shoulder to shoulder with educators and parents against Cuomo's wrongheaded actions. I was asked the question about opt out today and this is what I tweeted out.

"We believe parents have right to opt-out & tchrs shld be able to advise parents how. We've said it repeatedly, are fighting for it in ESEA..."

@lacetothetop et al have asked what I'd do if I had kids in NYPS-based on what I've seen, if I had kids, I'd opt them out of the PEARSON (PAARC) tests this yr

It's crazy what's happening in NY, w/ Cuomo leading the misuse of testing. We understand why @NYSUT and parents are calling for an opt-out


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