AFT Guild

AFT National President Speech on Education and the Economy

Today, I gave a speech at the National Press Club in which I discussed the challenges we face in education and the economy.  These aren’t easy times for either of those sectors and, as I said in my speech, neither the economy nor public education is strong when the other is weak.

I feel a special responsibility to advance solutions to the problems confronting public schools.  The AFT, as a union of public school professionals and with a proud tradition of taking on tough issues, is uniquely prepared to do so.  And, as you know, the alternative to advancing solutions too often is fending off bad ideas—and we’ve all seen enough of that.

So I laid out some provocative thoughts today.  I said that—even in these tough economic times—it is imperative to reinvest, not disinvest, in education, for the long-term health of our economy.  I said that the AFT accepts responsibility for doing all we can to strengthen public education, but that this is a shared responsibility for which all stakeholders must accept their part.  I insisted that the disrespect of teachers must end.  And I said that the AFT was willing to take on tough issues in education.  In fact, I said that, with the exception of vouchers, which siphon scarce resources from public schools, no issue should be off the table—provided it is good for children and fair to teachers.

We are at a turning point in our nation’s history.  We face grave challenges, but we have a rare opportunity to work with a new president and Congress to shape effective solutions.  We need the AFT and our members to be at the center of this discussion.  Decisions are going to be made, policies are going to be adopted, and changes are going to happen.  We need to be a part of all of this, and my goal today was to place the AFT squarely in the center of any meaningful discussion about improving public education.

I want to share the attached documents with you.  I appreciate the trust you have placed in me, and I look forward to working with you toward our goal of ensuring that every child in America’s public schools receives a high-quality, world-class education.

Randi Weingarten, AFT President

AFT’s Weingarten on Education and the Economy: “Reinvest, Don’t Disinvest”

After the Election, making the right choices for Education and the Economy