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Forward Magazine - - Contents - Randi Wein­garten

Teach­ers Union Boss Randi Wein­garten

Randi Wein­garten has held lead­er­ship po­si­tion in teach­ers unions for al­most three decades, but in the com­ing school year she faces per­haps the most daunt­ing chal­lenge of her ca­reer.

The 2016 elec­tion re­sulted in an ad­min­is­tra­tion whose views are al­most di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed to ev­ery­thing Wein­garten, as head of the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, be­lieves in. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s strong an­tiu­nion strand and its com­mit­ment to open up schools to com­pe­ti­tion, per­son­i­fied in Sec­re­tary of Ed­u­ca­tion Betsy DeVos and her school choice cru­sade, have put the AFT and its 1.6 mil­lion teach­ers on the de­fen­sive.

Wein­garten, 59, was born in and raised in New York and told For­ward staff writer Nathan Guttman that she sees her­self as a “very re­li­gious” Jew. She is look­ing at the up­com­ing school year with a mix of con­cern and deter­mi­na­tion — con­cern over the fast-mov­ing pol­icy, bud­get and leg­is­la­tion changes aimed at chal­leng­ing pub­lic schools’ sta­tus as the premier provider of ed­u­ca­tion for Amer­i­can chil­dren. Her deter­mi­na­tion, she says, draws its power from a groundswell she feels among teach­ers and par­ents com­mit­ted to de­feat­ing these changes.

With the school year just around the cor­ner, what are the main chal­lenges you’re fac­ing?

We have a sec­re­tary of ed­u­ca­tion who ac­tu­ally doesn’t be­lieve in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, and that’s a huge chal­lenge. Our goal is for eco­nomic and ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­nity for all kids, and when 34 states still spend less on pub­lic

Randi Wein­garten says she sees her­self as a ‘very re­li­gious Jew.’ TO­WARDS A MORE PER­FECT UNION:

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