Tuesday, January 30, 2007

AFT: RIP? Or Too Soon To Tell?

Education Week's headline on their big, new thumb-sucker piece on the weakened/impotent state of the American Federation of Teachers reads "AFT No Longer A Major Player In Reform Arena." It suggests that elected officials don't follow orders from the union bosses the way they used to, that big changes like No Child Left Behind were the offspring of political compromises that the union wasn't enthusiastically a part of, that there is a lack of strong leadership like there used to be, etc.

Are times changing? Of course. Do all organizations go through ups and downs? Yeah. Have legislative priorities for education changed with changing sentiments among a frustrated public? You bet.

Is the AFT dead?

Nope. Not yet.

At a crucial crossroads, perhaps, but still potentially relevant, especially when they aren't doing the Big, Freaking, Macho Gorilla thing.

(And it begs the question: If the AFT is yesterday's news, what exactly is the NEA? Has anyone checked Reg Weaver's pulse lately? At least the AFT knows what year it is! Oh, wait, EdWeek did check Weaver/NEA's vital stats last week and found them to be in good shape, though they noted that the union was suffering from heartburn thanks to antsy Democrats and civil rights backers who are getting frustrated with the results of previous union-backed reform efforts. I think they got the headlines mixed up on the NEA and AFT pieces, to be honest.)

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