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[Susan notes: Excellent point. The AFT should respond more

often to The NY Times execrable editorials on

education.]

Published in New York Times
10/09/2008

To the editor

Re “Merit and the D.C. School System” (editorial,

Oct. 3):



No one who has been involved in, had children in,

or followed developments in the Washington school

system can deny that it is in need of real

reform. I would wager that the six

superintendents who have been employed during the

last 10 years would agree. But imagine trying to

reform a system by declaring, as Chancellor

Michelle Rhee has on numerous occasions, that

“cooperation and collaboration and consensus are

overrated” whether that be with the local

teachers’ union or as she said recently, with

parents or community groups.



The plan that you applaud is one that Chancellor

Rhee intends to impose upon teachers, not one

that she hopes to develop with teachers. And it

is one that will, in effect, create a temporary

work force of highly paid, transitory teachers

who will spend much of their time looking over

their shoulders at one another — not at the

children in front of them.



Chancellor Rhee has not put forth any plans to

work together with teachers to improve the

quality of instruction, nor has she recommended

any new steps to support and enhance teacher

quality. There has been no effort to replicate

the types of programs that encourage creativity

and risk-taking by teachers that have been so

rewarding to both children and teachers in New

York City.



And there has been no effort to sit at the table

with educators and use the benefit of their years

of classroom experience to advance the creative

solutions demanded by our times.



Unlike Chancellor Rhee, the American Federation

of Teachers believes that there is still a place

in this world for cooperation, collaboration and

consensus. Certainly, that’s something we teach

our students. We fervently hope that you continue

to believe the same.





Randi Weingarten, President American Federation of Teachers


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