Did AFT's Randi Weingarten last much more than “10 minutes in a classroom?”
Randi should be careful not to throw stones when she may live in a glass house. The records of her teaching career are fuzzy, but there's quite a bit of evidence (which Randi disputes, of course) that her classroom experience is very limited. Here's an article from the Education Action Group on this:
Earlier this week, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten lashed out at Americans who are trying to improve the nation's mediocre public education system, mocking them as "a group of self-styled reformers" who "wouldn't last 10 minutes in a classroom."
That characterization is interesting, considering Weingarten may have very limited experience as a public school teacher herself.
Weingarten likes to present herself as a battle-tested, former teacher with unquestioned expertise about what does and doesn't work in K-12 education – including seniority, teacher evaluations and testing procedures.
This is how her official AFT biography reads:
"A teacher of history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn's Crown Heights from 1991 to 1997, Weingarten helped her students win several state and national awards debating constitutional issues."
Education Action Group believes that Weingarten may be wildly overstating her teaching credentials.
Earlier this year, EAG submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request with the New York City Department of Education for Rhonda ("Randi") Weingarten's employee personnel file.
The file contained only 18 pages of information, most of which involved Weingarten's employment and education history.
The records can be viewed at PublicSchoolSpending.com.
Under section 14 of her "Personal Data" form, Weingarten notes that she was licensed only as a "Per Diem Teacher" (or substitute teacher) on September 3, 1991.
According to these records, Weingarten received her provisional teaching certificate on September 7, 1993. It is EAG's understanding that a provisional certificate is given to individuals who have not completed all the requirements necessary to become a fully-licensed classroom teacher. A provisional certificate is given until those requirements are fully met.
On October 8, 1994, New York City Public Schools issued Weingarten a "certificate to serve as a substitute" that reads:
"This certificate is issued for: Preparatory Provisional Service on the basis of having made application for a New York State Temporary License which requires timely progression toward the attainment of New York State Provisional Certification….This Certificate is valid for substitute service in the New York City Public Schools." (emphasis added)
On July 11, 1997, the New York City Board of Education sent Weingarten a letter stating, "… you did not submit required documentation confirming that you have met the full preparation requirements for licensure (Chancellor's Requirements) for the above-referenced New York City Regular License…."
In fact, there is no record in her file indicating Weingarten ever served as a full-time teacher at any K-12 public school. This seems to contradict the assertion in Weingarten's biography that she was a history teacher at Clara Barton High School from 1991 to 1997.
Weingarten, an attorney by trade, was elected president of New York's United Federation of Teachers in 1998. During her election campaign, her opponent, Michael Shulman, suggested that she was not a "real teacher."
"She worked five months full-time that I've been aware of, in 1992, at Clara Barton High School," Shulman was quoted as saying in the New York Times. "Since then she taught maybe one class for 40 minutes a day."
July 13, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ben Velderman, project manager
Did AFT's Randi Weingarten last much more than "10 minutes in a classroom?"
AFT president's personnel file indicates very little experience as a teacher