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AFT 2014 Convention – Sunday

July 14, 2014 am31 11:02 am

1. More Press

I spent another day front row, listening, writing, tweeting.  I’m “Press” here because I blog. But then it turns out I tweet… another 40 yesterday, even though I missed a bit. Maybe a little more intense during the two big discussions. If you are curious, here’s the handle again: @jd2718x

2. Common Core

The second resolution of the morning supported the Common Core, but criticized implementation, testing, etc. It called on teachers to rewrite the standards. This was the most contentious resolution, probably of the entire convention.

Randi Weingarten opened by asking to suspend the rules, so that the question could not be called for the first 15 minutes, and to allow the suspension to be extended 15 more minutes (guarantees debate). In the event, the debate went on about 40 minutes, and included a range of points from each side.

At first it looked like UFT against CTU, but as other delegates joined in, it looked like Chicago and some rank and filers on one side, against AFT Vice Presidents on the other – an unfortunate blunder on the part of the common core supporters.

Almost none of the debate addressed the actual content of the CCLS. Which is unfortunate. The math has some plusses, but the demerits are overwhelming. The high school component is a disaster. And no one seems to care what’s actually in them. One Chicago delegate did address reading: Kids naturally learn to read between ages 4 and 8, and not on schedule. One special ed teacher talked about how inappropriate the standards were for “her babies” (phrase made me cringe), another (unconvincingly) described how the standards would help (hmm, she described things that she’s not currently doing? I was confused, probably for good reason).

The Vice Presidents spoke, some in favor of the Common Core, some in favor of reclaiming the Common Core. A woman from Rhode Island was quite clear about not liking them the way they are, others seemed to endorse them as written.

One rank and filer from Minneapolis, dynamic speaker, distinguished between corporate standards and educational standards, rebutted the idea that kids would be on the same page in different states, and pointed out that we could never “reclaim” standards that are copyrighted.

The vote was about 70 – 30.

3. Duncan

Can we make Duncan resign? No.

Can we say we are pissed? Yes.

And that’s the unstated motivation for the amendment to an unrelated resolution calling on him to resign.

Only another delegate comes up with a snarky “Improvement Plan” for Duncan. Cute? Yup. Motivated? With precise, sharp criticism of things he’s already done to harm us. But it kind of distracts from the “We’re pissed, resign” message. So Mulgrew gets up and speaks for it. And the house, still edgy from the Common Core debate, divides along similar lines – Resign vs Improvement Plan. In the end, the Improvement Plan passes overwhelmingly, and it’s only a slightly weaker way of publicly venting.

4. Other stuff

Argentina’s defense was amazing, but they could not score against Germany. I watched with a delegate whom I’d met in June, in Cuba.

Donna Brazile spoke on the Democrats for Public Education. I was outside the hall, eating.

A resolution to create physical infrastructure in the US closed the session. A delegate rose to amend, to add a pro-environment line, and an anti-Keystone line. Randi separated the two, but the question was called right away (delegates were in a rush to end the session). Keystone went down overwhelmingly, but Randi was horrified to see the environment also fail, about 2-1. She called for a revote, and enough of a signal went out that the new result was close enough to a tie that she could conclude that the amendment passed. And who would object? Those were mostly her votes that were still going the wrong way.

5. Maybe I would like LA, if I gave it a chance.

6. On deck: International Resolutions. The AFT has a long, ugly pro-war history (they were Kerryishly for the Viet Nam war before they were against it, a dozen years ago my local passed a blood-curdling “let’s invade Afghanistan, because we need to invade someone” resolution, and just four years ago the AFT passed a blueprint for justification of a war they clearly were hoping the US would launch against Iran). This time? Pro-war resolution on Ukraine. Look for it to pass, but in a hot debate.

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