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Teaching Profession

AFT Pres. Weingarten Tested in Social-Media Exchange

By Liana Loewus — October 26, 2012 1 min read

Wow, redditors are a tough crowd. That’s a realization the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, probably had this morning as well.

For several hours—while traveling on a bus through Florida—Weingarten participated in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread on the popular social news site. She answered questions on everything from Common Core (which she called “a big opportunity”) to absent-teacher reserves (“I tried to close the Rubber Room several times”) to her salary (around $360k, or 3.5 times what she could have made as a teacher in NYC). She also faced numerous accusations that she was dodging, cherry-picking, and “spouting talking points.” One redditor chided her: “Don’t shake the bee’s nest if you’re allergic.”

President Barack Obama paved the way for political figures to get involved on reddit when he participated in an AMA in August. So it makes sense that the social-media-savvy Weingarten would give it a shot as well.

I have to say that, as a relative newbie to the site, I had a bit of trouble following the conversation. But I do think it’s worth a browse (hint: get to know the reddit ethos first). If nothing else, it offers a look into what a mostly young, seemingly well-read, and engaged cross-section of the population thinks about teachers’ unions and education. As several redditors pointed out, while the site tends to attract liberal users, this particular conversation had an anti-union bent.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.