Good morning Reddit -

My name is Randi Weingarten, I'm the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) which represents 1.5 million members. I've practiced law, taught in the classroom, lead the United Federation of Teachers in New York City. You can follow me on twitter.

I'm currently on a bus tour in Florida mobilizing the labor movement to walk precincts and get out the vote for the election on behalf of President Obama and endorsed candidates. You can connect to organized labor's political program at [Workers' Voice](

I'll start answering questions at 11:30 am this morning and will stop by as I'm able to for follow ups through 2pm.

Update: Tweet to verify

Update #2 (12:26 p.m.): I'm really enjoying your questions. I'm going to take a quick break but I'll be back soon.

Update #3 (12:42 p.m.): Please bear with me as I'm currently on a bus traveling through Florida. The internet is a bit slow.

Update #4 (1:24 p.m.): Quite a few of my answers are buried. Please search for them! Also, for anyone who thinks that public education doesn't work. I invite you to spend time with a teacher. And for anyone who wants to help, please help us by mentoring a child or volunteering at a school - help us prepare the next generation for an increasingly competitive future.

Update #5 (1:37 p.m): I’ve been going at this for a couple hours. I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to all of your great questions. Let me leave you with this - Public education is not a spectator sport – we need participation and further investment to ensure that all kids succeed. That’s what the educators of America want and that’s what teachers unions will continue to fight for. Thanks again for your support and for helping the AFT fight for students and teachers all over!

Comments: 4102 • Responses: 2  • Date: 

bobman151873 karma

I hear a lot of people slamming teachers unions because of how easy it is to get tenure and how hard it is to fire bad teachers. Are they correct or not and why?

Edit: To clarify, are the people making the accusations correct?

Edit 2: Language.

Edit 3: Here is op's repose for all of you who haven't seen it:

Also consider taking a look at this: I feel like this thread really gets to the root of the issue with ideas of how to fix it. Hopefully we can get support and have 4740 do an AMA.

RandiWeingarten784 karma

Thanks for asking this question so we can permanently debunk this myth. Teacher unions represent teachers. And it’s management (e.g. principals, school boards, superintendents) who hire and evaluate teachers and grant tenure – not teachers unions. But underlying your question is how to ensure that every student has a good teacher.

So what we try to do as teacher unions is to make sure teachers get the support they need from day one to do their jobs. We also make sure that they are treated fairly. And that means that if they are struggling, they should get help. That also means that shouldn’t be fired for patronage, cronyism, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.

But what it also means that if teachers can’t do their job, after some help, they shouldn’t be there.

Tenure should be about fairness and not an excuse for managers not to manage or an inadvertent cloak of incompetence. But we want to make sure that all kids have great teachers and that teachers have the support they need to do their jobs.

About four years ago, we stepped up and started working with affiliates and districts across the country to create meaningful, comprehensive evaluation systems that were about better feedback and continuous improvement.

Once you have really good evaluation systems, it’s never a concern about teachers being treated fairly (having tenure). It’s always an asset.

TossedLikeChum258 karma

So, you (as president of the union) support a "meaningful comprehensive evaluation system" or set of systems, rather than strict tenure?

Do you have links to some of these systems you've been working on over the last 4 years?

RandiWeingarten166 karma

Take a look at the system in New Haven, CT. Kristof from the NYT had a good write-up about it -