Skip to main content

tv   AFT President Randi Weingarten Delivers Remarks on Education Policy  CSPAN  January 9, 2017 5:29pm-6:18pm EST

5:29 pm
mr. mcconnell: everyone will be properly vetted as they have in the past. i'm hopeful we'll get up to six or seven, particularly the national security team in place on day one. [inaudible] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> and again, senator jeff sessions, the nominee for attorney general. that confirmation hearing beginning tomorrow in front of the senate judiciary committee, . ve coverage on c-span3 also our website, and our free c-span radio app. american federation of teachers president randy winegarden talked today about the future of public education. let's show you some of that now.
5:30 pm
>> many of you know the person i'm about to introduce as the fearless leader of the american federation of teachers. she is the former present of united federation of teachers. i know her as the teacher, the educator who epitomizes the best of what our public education system has to offer. 25 years ago, i had the privilege of being one of her ap political science students in brooklyn. she demonstrated that the role of the teacher goes beyond preparing a lesson plan, giving a lecture or grading exams. to change the life trajectory of students and an educator must have a vision for her students future. she must cultivate a learning environment that stimulates growth and encourages action and nurtures the minds and
5:31 pm
abilities of the learners. nstead of imparting monday and and immaterial concepts to a lass of restless urban -- seemingly unmaun -- mundane and immaterial legal concepts to a class of restless urban students, each day she transformed the classroom into a congressional hearing room or a courtroom and placed students in positions of power, as legislators and counselors of the law. we analyzed text and case law. we debated and disagreed. we sharpened our critical thinking skills. the bill of rights and constitutional amendments evolved into living documents and began to shape our young inds and ideals. randi weingarten was a motivator.
5:32 pm
in those days, crime, poverty, and hopelessness legs are neighborhood communities. this did not preclude her from setting lofty goals and challenging each of us to raise the bar and meet her level of expectations. one of my treasured memorabilia is a 13 page paper on the ourth amendment protection against illegal searches and seizures. it was the first major research aper i wrote for her class. despite my receiving and a on the paper, she did not refrain from providing constructive feedback. among her written comments were -- are perjury and reliability linked? please elaborate. what happened to the rest of your footnotes? we quickly realized there was a nexus between her high standards and our high performance. randi weingarten was a mover and shaker.
5:33 pm
her lessons transcended the classroom. we learned the value of clinical activism and civic engagement as we handed out flyers, participated in phone canvassing, and went door to door campaigning for a local city council whose victory we felt responsible for. a sense of personal responsibility for effectuating change in the community was instilled. i felt empowered to do so. this led me to serve as an term at the new york state assembly while in college. i encounter lobbyists, worked with constituents of a bronx community in new york, and worked directly on a legislative bill which became later state law. all of this happened for a first-generation american girl within a public school under the leadership of new york city
5:34 pm
public school teachers who had no interest in maintaining the status quo and education. randi weingarten championed the virtues of public education because she was a bedrock contributor. she knows what it takes for teachers to be in the trenches with students. she understands that student achievement cannot be measured merely by test scores, but by the advancement of higher skills such as problem solving, information synthesis, and teamwork, which are attained through learning projects we engaged in. now more than ever, we need more educators like randi weingarten and to create more programs like the ones that existed. when adequate investments are made in our schools and our teachers, the yields are realized through the children.
5:35 pm
hey become productive adults who are college and career ready. to anyone who was unconvinced that the product of a public education are actual, talk to the lawyer, the doctor, the financial professional, the university professors, the entrepreneurs, and school teachers from her class that graduated with me in 1992. if they won't persuade you, then ask me. it was in her class that i discovered my voice, my academic curiosity was piqued and i developed an interest in the law.
5:36 pm
i attended law school and committed to a career in which i use the law to inspire young people from underserved communities similar to my own. today because of randi weingarten, i serve as the managing director of a onprofit organization. the skills that the students acquire have been able them to gain admission to and succeed at the most prestigious colleges, including harvard, yale, columbia, amherst, wellesley, wesleyan, and so many more. the seeds were planted by randi weingarten. my hope now is my three children who attend public schools, will have teachers who are just as inspiring if not
5:37 pm
more than randi weingarten. that they will learn the value hard work and persistence, citizenship, and maintaining high standards. i feel incredibly blessed to be named among the many beneficiaries of her class. of her vision. er teaching. her commitment to public school education. it is my distinct honor to ntroduce to you a leader who has embodied what our public educational system represents. by former teacher, the president of the american federation of teachers, randi weingarten. [applause] randi weingarten: you can't give a speech after that. [laughter] hese are our kids.
5:38 pm
tameka epitomizes the potential and the promise of public education. aside from that, she's not just an incredible lawyer and an incredible parent, our kids have become incredible friends. thank you so much. let's see. let me see if i can do this now. eight years ago, i spoke at the press club as the newly elected ast president. -- a.f.t. -- a.f.t. president. president obama was inheriting the worst economic crisis since the great depression. america was losing 750,000 jobs a month. next week, president-elect trump will inherit a far ifferent economy, one that has
5:39 pm
added 200,000 jobs every month for a record 75 straight months. while we still have a long way to go to combat social and economic inequality and address the effects of deindustrialization, globalization, and automation, it's wrong not to a knowledge he real progress of the last eight years. today, we face a really different crisis. voters have lost confidence in our institutions. their confidence is lowered still by this distorted reality created by fake news. our country is intensely polarized. the second time this century, more americans voted for candidates who will not be their president and vice president. o, what can we do to address
5:40 pm
had on the deep anger and distrust so many americans feel? i believe if one wants a less polarized environment or a more skilled workforce and more middle-class jobs, whether one wants diversity and tolerance r whether one wants just wants
5:41 pm
children to thrive and be joyful, the answer always starts with powerful, urposeful public education. we have that opportunity to provide that education. after no child left behind, after race to the top, after the tyranny of testing, congress and the country took on and moved past the education wars. i was in the senate gallery in december 2015, listening to lamar alexander. they agreed about what was needed past the every student succeeds act. senator alexander marveled at the remarkable consensus around it. he said at the time we have created an environment i believe will unleash a flood of excellence of student achievement state-by-state, community i community. 85 senators and 359 representatives, the school superintendents association, civil rights groups, the pta,
5:42 pm
our brothers and sisters in the any a, the people i represent in the ft cheered. president obama called it a christmas miracle. despite the extraordinary political divisions in the country, after the damaging ailures of policies like nclb, we've finally reached a strong bipartisan consensus and a way to improving public education. the a.f.t. worked hard to shift the focus away from testing toward teaching, to push schools decision-making back to ommunities and to direct federal funds to the public schools that educate the kids ho need them most.
5:43 pm
that is fundamental reform of ducation policy. it's why education wasn't a major issue in this past presidential campaign. he subject of not one of the big debate questions. it's becoming an issue now. on wednesday, the senate education committee will hold its first hearing to consider he betsy devos nomination. instead of nominating a secretary who sees her mission as strengthening public schools and implementing the blueprint emocrats and republicans crafted and cheered, donald trump dismissed the will of the people and chose instead the most anti-public education nominee in the history of the department. betsy devos lacks the ualification and experience to
5:44 pm
serve as secretary of education. her drive to privatize education is demonstrably instructive to public schools and to the education success of our children. if she is confirmed, if she shatters the consensus, if she reignites the educational wars, it will demonstrate that her ultimate goal is to undermine public schools. the schools that 90% of merican children attend. it should come as no surprise that we are steadfast in opposing her nomination. we are equally steadfast in our continuing work to advance reforms that will make a positive difference in the lives and success of children. not all schools work as we would like. many failing schools have been failed by for policy, budget
5:45 pm
cuts, and acceptance of inequality. when parents and someone other than the local school, it's not because people believe the private market is the best way to deliver education or that their child will benefit from a longer bus ride. t's most often because their local school is under resourced, it's not safe enough or otherwise struggling. our obligation as a society is to provide families with access to great neighborhood of public schools in every neighborhood in america. this must be a viable choice. how to we accomplish this? in a world with more lean and less tolerance, it starts by providing a safe environment.
5:46 pm
this is not just a nice sentiment. there is a body of research showing the connection between a supportive school environment and student achievement. instead of fixating on testing, we must fixate on the whole child. educating the whole child is not based on sanctions. it's rooted in joy. technology is important, the goal of education is not digital. it's personal. it's not-for-profit. it's equitably funded. it's not one-size-fits-all. it meets student individual needs and aspirations. just as we came to transform federal education policy, it's time guided by our innovation
5:47 pm
and our experience and our collective wisdom of what works to work together to build the system of great neighborhood public schools. that rests on four pillars. promoting children's well-being, supporting powerful learning, building teacher capacity, and fostering cultures of collaboration. let's start with well-being. we need to meet kids where they are. that means record rising that half of all public school students live in poverty. the effects of poverty, stress, hunger, untreated medical conditions are terrible. they also hurt the ability to learn and thrive. poverty is not an excuse for low expectations. it is a reality that must pick nowledge and confronted. educators and community partners are taking steps to
5:48 pm
meaningfully address the effects of poverty. community schools like the community health academy of the heights helped meet students needs. needs the left barriers to learning. it is located in northern manhattan. all of the 600 50 students live in poverty. one third are english language earners. it provides screenings for every student and free glasses to the 200 who need them. think about that. kids were struggling to learn because they had headaches or they could not see the
5:49 pm
board. what they needed for glasses. it stays open until 9:30 p.m. to offer adults ged and esl classes as well as physical fitness classes. there is a food pantry. it offers a full-service community health clinic with more than 6000 enrolled members. all middle schoolers receive annual mental health screenings. students have access to social workers and a full-time psychologist. all of this alters student achievement. it reduced the number of students reading level one, the lowest level by 37%. during that same time, the percentage of students reading at the highest level rose by 24%. it proves that great results
5:50 pm
are possible when you focus on the well-being of the child and the child's family and the child's community. this is not an isolated example. schools in austin, cincinnati, dozens of other committees have taken similar approaches with similar results. that allows teachers and their kids to focus on the second pillar, powerful learning. we set high expectations for our public schools as we should. they develop students academically, prepare them for work, equip them to be good citizens, enable them to lead fulfilling lives. none of this is accomplished by requiring students to memorize information or regurgitated on standardized tests. it's about powerful learning, learning that engages students and inspires them to tackle complex concepts. students learn when they
5:51 pm
collaborate in teams on innovative projects. they learn when they are interested and excited, when they are exposed to music and art, theater and robotics. they learn when they are nterested and excited. they learn in environments that are safe and welcoming, with restorative justice practices that encourage responsibility and reduce discriminatory practices. they learn in environments that cultivate critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and joy. they learn when class sizes are small enough to do all of this. the effects of powerful learning aren't revealed by a test score. hey are evident in student engagement and confidence. they are demonstrated in
5:52 pm
real-world assessment. they are evident in how well students are prepared to thrive in a challenging world. powerful learning is achievable and sustainable. one way is through project-based instruction. that's when kids take on a real-life problem. they investigate and strategize. they share responsibility. they build resilience. in roy miller high school in texas, when she teaches about the possibility of human habitation on planets other than earth, her students put on their lab coats. they work in teams to investigate the potential for humans to live on other planets.
5:53 pm
that's the kind of powerful learning prepares students for today's economy. that's what happens in david sheridan's international law class in new york city. students don't memorize facts. they select defendants and choose witnesses. they write affidavits and create exhibits. they go to a brooklyn courthouse and hold mock trial of a perpetrator of the rwanda and genocide. that is powerful learning. another area where we see powerful learning is in career and technical education. while campaigning, donald trump said vocational training is a
5:54 pm
great thing. e don't do it anymore. actually, donald, we do. and we've been fighting for over a decade to do more. take the toledo technological academy in ohio. students are offered a chance to develop their set of skills with local businesses, including an outfit called general motors. the director manufacturing at gm said of the students, they do it as well as interns we bring in from places like purdue and the university of michigan. it's devoting resources to incubate more programs across the country. whether it's connecting students with the orient businesses so they can secure internships or partnering with pittsburgh's ems services to
5:55 pm
train high school students. cte is part of the dna of aft. we are glad the president-elect shares her desire to expand this work. focusing on well-being and powerful learning give our kids what they need most. we can't achieve powerful learning without a powerful conduit, the teacher. we know how much teachers do to help children fulfill their potential. what about helping teachers reach their full potential? that is what building capacity is about. becoming an accomplished teacher requires time and support. and dignity and respect. t begins long before they take charge of their own classrooms and it should never ever end. take the san francisco teacher
5:56 pm
residency program. they start with a year-long residency alongside an accomplished teacher. the program has led to not just hired teacher retention rates, but a diverse teaching core reflective of the community it serves. in connecticut, the support never stops. the district has everything from a new teacher induction program for rookies to the teacher sharing success program. students benefit from this investment in their teachers. the district is seeing a decline and a decline in expulsions and the average growth. building capacity is a shared responsibility and unions are a crucial partner. ft locals have used their collect the bargaining to help teachers continuously hone
5:57 pm
their craft and build our profession. a recent study which we have footnoted in my speech, a recent study found that highly unionized district's have more rigorous and robust tenure practices. speaking of tenure, the a ft worked with willing partners to ensure it is neither a cloak for incompetence nor an excuse or principles not to manage. t's a guarantee of fairness, of due process. with the recent surge in bigotry and hate, a teacher's ability to stand up for her students and herself is more important than ever. another bugaboo, far from being
5:58 pm
against evaluations, the afp has worked for a system that supports both teacher growth and student learning. with our innovation fund, 11 ocals and districts took a look at teacher evaluation. we learned that evaluation systems built from partnerships that center on growth and improvement instead of punishment and testing consistently benefits students. that is why we fought for the end of test driven evaluations and that's why we support locally driven evaluation with multiple meaningful measures. the glue that binds everything lse together is the fourth pillar, collaboration. rather than fix broken schools, too often in the last two decades, the response has been to privatize, to disrupt.
5:59 pm
et's be clear. in the wealthiest country in the world, 23 states still spends less on k-12 education than they did before the 2008 recession. isruption may be in vogue in business schools, but disrupting rather than fixing struggling schools means mass firing, school closures, school deserts and communities, and district and state takeover. these approaches are not effective. especially when it comes to improving student outcomes. as the president of a teachers union and a former president of the largest local union in the
6:00 pm
world, i can attest that in education, if you set out ooking for a fight, you'll ind one. you probably won't find a olution. you don't hear as much about the many quiet successes that result from educators and administrators working together to improve achievement and well being. in the southern suburbs of los angeles, for example, the a.f.t. unified shool district and its teachers union have an intentional and purposeful collaboration to improve their schools. district personnel are paired with union counterparts they meet frequently, aattend trainings together, they hold an annual retreat. when there's a decision to be made they make it collaboratively.
6:01 pm
the results speak for themselves. abc unified performed better than the state as a whole, latino students, african-american students, and students from low-income families performing much better than their counterparts in the state of california. again, this is not isolated. a 2015 study of more than 300 miami-dade public schools found that high quality teacher collaboration, giving teach thers time and space to work together, increased student achievement. and we need to collaborate more broadly, the entire school community. teachers, paraprofessionals, school counselors, bus drivers, school nurse, administrators. schools with parents, schools with community partners. parents and students must see neighborhood public schools as their schools. that means creating environments
6:02 pm
that respect and value their voice. value their input. rather than discourage it. a great example is chicago's parent mentor program, through which parents are trained to help out in overcrowded classrooms to work with struggling students one-on-one. parents learn how to help not only their own child but all children in the community. so, too, are the parent teacher home visit programs, such as those in baltimore and st. paul. teachers visit student families at the beginning of the school year and again later on to talk about the family's homes and dreams for their kids. and share any concerns and questions. results include increased parent involvement in schools, more positive behavioral jut come, increased student achievement, and teachers report greater job satisfaction. encouraging this kind of
6:03 pm
partnership is why the alliance to reclaim our schools was formed. and was formed among parent teacher organizations fighting to reclaim the promise of public education as a gateway to a strong democracy and racial and economic justice. and on january 19 of this year, aros will mobilize tens and thousands of people in hundreds of communities to protect our students from the big triand the hatred that has been unleashed in this incendiary period. we will stand up for our dreamers and other youth threatened with deportation and we'll stand up for strong public schools and for the very institution of public education. when you see a neighborhood public school that's working anywhere in the country, you'll
6:04 pm
see the four pillars i just described. they're not one size fits all. they're tailored to the different communities and needs. and they're not a magic elixir. they need to be funded and supported. but one thing they don't need is a change in federal law. that's already happened with esa. it creates the potential to put these pillars in place. although, it doesn't guarantee it. the frontier in education has moved from washington to state capitals to districts to school communities. that doesn't mean the federal government has no role. we still need it to promote equity by funding schools that serve disadvantaged children -- children and protecting the civil rights of all our children, including our lgbtq students, style vitally
6:05 pm
important, 60 years after the land mark brown decision. but what it did was it quelled the educational wars and enabled our shared attention to turn to what works, collaboration, capacity building, powerful learning, and the well being of children. practical concepts that are sustainable and scaleable, that republicans and democrats can support, that red states, blue states, rural, suburban and urban schools can implement with the right investment and the right management. now one speech can't encome pass everything we need to do for our children, families, and communities. we need to fight for a living wage, for retirement security, for afordable and accessible health care and college. we need to fight for universal pre-k, just to name a few.
6:06 pm
and you can be sure we'll continue to fight for all of this. but the passage of essa has created a moment of opportunity to use these four pillars to help make every neighborhood public school a place where parents would want to send their children, where educators would want to work, and where kids ant to be. so, as -- excuse me. as republicans and democrats, parents and teachers, all came last er around esa in the couple of years, where was betsy devos? she was working in michigan in undermine public schools and to divide communities. and now, she's poised to swing
6:07 pm
her michigan wrecking ball all across america. if donald trump wanted an ideologue, he found one. devos' involvement in education has been to bankroll efforts to destabilize, defund, and privatize public schools. she hasn't taught in a public school. she hasn't served on a school board, she never attended a public school, nor did she send her kids to one. she's a lobbyist, but she's not an educator. one wonders why she was nominated. well, like a lot of donald trump's cabinet choices, she's a billionaire. with an ayen da. as she herself boasted, and i quote, my family is the single biggest contributor to the republican national committee. we expect a return on our
6:08 pm
investment. end quote. by the way, those investments don't exempt her from the ethics disclosures required of all cabinet nominees, and frankly, her failure to disclose should delay her hearing. in 2000, devos and her husband bankrolled a multimillion dollar initiative to create private school vouchers in michigan. voters rejected it by more than a 2-1 margin. no surprise as the evidence over a quarter of a century shows that vouchers have failed to improve student achievement significantly or consistently. after this defeat, she shifted her focus to diverting taxpayer dollars from neighborhood public schools to for-profit charter schools.
6:09 pm
and give her her due. over the last 15 years, michigan has become america's wild, wild west for for-profit charter schools. 80% of michigan's charter schools are for-profit. yes, give her her due, but don't give her responsibility. and here's why. when the action was to bolster underfunded public school, she fought instead for tax cuts for the rich. when the option was to help public schools, she disparaged public schools. when the option was to strengthen charters with real accountability she fought for no accountability. no accountability even in cases like the detroit charter schools that closed just days after the deadline for getting state funded.
6:10 pm
leaving students and their parents scrambling to find new schools. but the charter operator still profited. she's devoted millions to elect her friends and punish her enemies and at every critical moment, she has tried to take the public out of public education. what's the result of all of this? student performance has declined across michigan. nearly half of its charter schools rank among the bottom of america's schools. just look at the year-long investigation by the detroit free press, which revealed rampant problems in the states -- state's for-profit charter schools. corruption, cronyism, poor performance, and lack of accountability.
6:11 pm
hat's ms. devos' legacy. ack when i taught tameka and her colleagues and classmates at barton, clara barton high school in brooklyn they should say to me often, you can't just talk the talk. you got to walk the walk. or words to that effect. for a secretary of education, that means doing all you can to strengthen and improve public education. to do that, though, you have to first experience it. you have to be willing to walk the walk. as the former secretary of education in virginia and -- ann holton did, who is with us today. to that end, i extend both a challenge and an invitation to ms. devos. spend some time in public schools.
6:12 pm
there's no substitute for seeing firsthand what works in our public schools or for seing the indefensible conditions that many students, teachers, and school staff endure. come to some of the places a.f.t. members are working their hearts out for our students. come to rural mcdowell county, west virginia, the eighth poorest county in our country, where many voted for donald trump. a county where the a.f.t. is leading a public-private partnership to improve our public schools and health outcomes. join me at harvest or the toledo technological academy or in meridan, corpus christie, abc, or miami. spend a day or two in a class for severely disabled children. before you try to d what you did in michigan to the rest of the
6:13 pm
country, see firsthand the potential and the promise of purposeful public education. the trump administration can follow the will of the people, can walk the path laid out by congress a year ago, can engage in that fresh start. or they can follow the destructive dogmas of the past. and reignite the education wars. let's be clear. if they do the latter, if they reignite the education wars, communities across the country will stand up and defend their public schools and our children. like hundreds of thousands have done so far in open letters and do on ns, like araf will january 19. whatever, though, whatever this new administration does, we will
6:14 pm
be walking the walk for great neighborhood public schools by investing and supporting the four pillars i just talked about today. using the a.f.t. innovation fund to kick start community school projects and investments in c.t.e. literally from coast to coast. building the capacity of educators through a.f.t.'s share my lesson, the largest free website of teach regular sources in america, which now has over one million users, fostering collaboration through collective bargaining and labor management partnerships and working with parents, civil rights and community groups. we are walking the walk. across america. we are living our values and protecting our kids. onald trump's choice to head
6:15 pm
the department of education is the antithesis of public education and all it represents. 's the an tit sess of the -- antithesis of the bipartisan legislation of last year's education reform and it's the antithesis of what our kids need. so i ask you, join us as we stand up for thele with-being of children, for powerful learning, for xmasity building for teachers, for community collaboration, join us as we stand up for the promise of public education. nd for the public schools, our children deserve. thank you so, so much. [applause]
6:16 pm
thank you, everyone. >> now we'll take some questions outside because the room is tight and a lot of people are standing. thank you very much, everybody. [applause] >> for the reporters who are here, go to the room right next door and randi will speak with you. thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
6:17 pm
>> coming up in just about 15 minute the 40us is back. a couple of votes tonight on bill december baited earlier, one on diabetes care, one as you can see about weather research. that coming up at 6:30. also a moment of silence on the house floor for the victims of the fort lauderdale shooting at the airport. tomorrow night, 9:00, we have live coverage as president obama heads to chicago and delivers his farewell address. he says he'll offer his thanks and review how the country has change over the last eight years and offer some thoughts about what's ahead. that's here on c-span at 9:00 eastern tomorrow, also on our website at or listen on our free c-span website app. today's white house briefing featured a number of questions, one of which was about the president's speech. how much of the speech is died


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on