There’s been some interesting pushback against EdWeek’s story about the declining influence of the AFT -- not all of it coming from the union. First, Joe Williams at The Chalkboard said that maybe the story had got things wrong (ie, backwards). Now, the AFT blog points to various signs that the union might actually be not just alive but thriving -- including a recent report from the research arm of EdWeek itself.
My only contribution is to wonder whether the article is the product of someone -- the reporter Vaishali Honawar (pictured) or an editor -- pushing to make a dramatic story. Conspiracists will note that someone with the same name has a bunch of Washington Times bylines. Needless to say, the proof will be in whether any of the charter-cap and transfer rule provisions in the Bush NCLB proposal -- not to speak of the voucher requirement -- get anywhere near being enacted.
UPDATE: A couple more concerns about the story itself -- namely the use of several blind quotes in a row from inside AFT and the notion that NCLB didn’t include much by way of AFT influences. That having been said, I did write in the Fall of 2005 that “nearly 10 years after Al Shanker’s death, the AFT is nowhere near where it once was.” My issue is not with the general thesis but with the cumulative weight given to it in the piece.
UPDATE 2: Late but basically in agreement with the above, Eduwonk Andy weighs in Cheap Shot?. Yes, defending the AFT. I know.
UPDATE 3: Someone from the EPE research center writes in to point out that the AFT’s ranking in the Influences report was for the last 10 years, not the present moment, meaning I guess that it would have been higher in 1997 and lower today.
UPDATE 4: Sherman Dorn, who as usual insists on always telling us where he is and how he’s feeling, weighs in here (Sherman Dorn: Much Ado about the AFT) to say that he, too, thinks there are too many unnamed (and old) quotes. And that he’s on his way somewhere.
The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.