Recently, Roland Martin hosted an education town hall in Washington D.C., and one of the speakers was Randi Weingarten. As president of the second-largest teachers’ union in America, she is one of the most powerful people in education in the country. Roland asked her how we can get bad teachers out of the classroom. Here’s what she had to say.
DR. RANDI WEINGARTEN: This is about shared responsibility, so we’re going to step up first, and we’re going to propose a quality agenda that is about how we ensure that the people who are teaching are doing the best job they can. And somebody [who?] shouldn’t be there – you help them, and if you can’t, you ease them out of the profession.
MR. MARTIN: People say we need a moral focus, but when it comes to dollars being spent, people always want to – they want to say, “My money should stay right here.” Even when you take minorities, even when you take folks who begin to rise up economically, all of a sudden their view then becomes, on education, based upon their resources, as opposed to what it was when they weren’t in that economic bra- — ec- — income bracket.
DR. WEINGARTEN: So, what I’m actually seeing across the country is that people in the “99 percent” – for lack of a different word – people who feel like they play by the rules actually, even in these tight economic times, want to invest more in education. I – I think what we need to do is spend a bunch of time getting people into schools, getting people to engage with kids. When I – I say this to businesspeople all the time: “If there’s one thing you can do, go adopt a school. Adopt a class. Don’t just show up one day; show up for those kids all the time.”
MR. MARTIN: There’re many places that they’re doing some great work, a lot of places not doing great work, but if – if there [were] one particular city or school district that you think should be the model that people should study and then follow, wha- — what is it? Where is that place?
DR. WEINGARTEN: So, I want to push back a bit because this is a problem. There’s actually not one-size-fits-all –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
DR. WEINGARTEN: — but – but we’ve seen – I’m going to tick off a few. We’ve seen a bunch of cities and districts actually start accomplishing whole-school change, and they do it by working together – collaboration, shared responsibility over a group of practices about creating capacity of teachers and creating rich, engaged curriculum; and then helping students who are falling behind, with wrap-around services. So, Cincinnati; ABC School District about 20 miles south of L.A.; New Haven, Connecticut; Baltimore, Maryland; Hillsborough County, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And there are many, many more; but what’s happened is that the s- — the school community has taken shared responsibility, works together over a series of practices for teachers to develop capacity and a series of interventions for kids, including high expectations and rich curriculum.