What if Randi Weingarten were U.S. education secretary? (Part 2 in a series.)
A 2014 photo of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten at her union’s convention. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
A new president will take the oath of office early next year and will likely appoint a new secretary of education (though the current man with the job, John King Jr., could be tapped). We can only speculate on who each presidential candidate could pick, but for now, let’s pursue another thought experiment. Author C.M. Rubin has asked six people prominent in the world of education what they would do if they had the job, and this is the second of six posts that will reveal their answers.
The first interview, conducted by author C.M. Rubin, was with Andy Hargreaves, author and Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. This interview is with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second largest teachers union in the country. Weingarten has been a forceful presence in the education reform debate for years. In 2009, my colleague, the unrivaled Post education reporter Jay Mathews, wrote a column suggesting that Weingarten should be named D.C. schools superintendent after Michelle Rhee because “she is a practical and imaginative leader who likes to defy conventional wisdom.”
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The other four people who will be featured in future interviews are Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and creator of the famous theory of multiple intelligences; Diane Ravitch, education historian, best-selling author and co-founder of the Network for Public Education; Charles Fadel, author, inventor and the founder and chairman of the Center for Curriculum Redesign; and Julia Freeland Fisher, author and director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute.
C.M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three best-selling books, including “The Real Alice in Wonderland,” as well as the publisher of CMRubinWorld, which launched in 2010 to explore what kind of education students need in a rapidly changing world. She is also a Disruptor Foundation Fellow. You can follow her on Twitter: @cmrubinwor
Here’s the interview by C.W. Rubin, with Randi Weingarten:
Q) Randi, what will be the legacy of Race to the Top and Barack Obama’s other education initiatives?
A) President Obama should get credit for ushering us out of recession with the ARRA [the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009]. Although it included Race to the Top, which, combined with waivers, exacerbated the test-fixation under No Child Left Behind, President Obama and Secretary Duncan both acknowledged late in the administration that “there are too many tests that take up too much time.”