American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten joined officials from the New York State United Teachers this weekend to protest a retreat hosted by Education Reform Now, an advocacy group supporting charter schools, tougher teacher evaluations, and the Common Core State Standards.
If you read the series on education advocacy that my colleague Sean Cavanagh and I wrote a few years back, you know that ERN is the nonprofit, 501(c)3 and (c)4 wing of Democrats for Education Reform, a PAC that elects politicians receptive to those groups’ ideas. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who’s received DFER backing in the past, was scheduled to appear at the fundraiser, among others.
NYSUT is painting the meeting, which runs through Tuesday, as another example of hedge-fund folks and millionaires trying to profit off of public schools. (Joe Williams, DFER’s executive director, had a snarky post about the protest on his blog.)
Forget the photo-ops and megaphone speeches occasioned by this protest: This is yet another reflection of the rapid proliferation of new centers of power in education policymaking—one that has been increasingly in conflict with teachers’ unions. The collision of these forces have dominated headlines and policy debates for the last four years and only seem likely to continue.
NYSUT, interestingly enough, has been dealing with some internal squabbling over these issues. A recently executed (and rare) overthrow of its president, Richard Iannuzzi, was partly caught up in power dynamics with other New York unions over how much support to lend for Gov. Cuomo and how forcefully to push back on so-called education reform priorities.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.