A new blog from the AFT, What Should Count, that is self described as follows:
The American Federation of Teachers believes that accountability should be about making sure students have resources to learn and succeed: rich curricula, excellent facilities, talented—and well-supported—faculty, and robust academic standards that are devised and improved by the people who deliver them. This website is designed to serve not only as a clearinghouse of accountability initiatives at the international, national, state and local levels, but also as a starting point for discussing accountability systems that best help our students succeed.
Time will tell whether the AFT contributes positively to the discourse on assessment K-16, but they do have some atoning to do, so this may be a positive start. With Albert Shanker as president, the AFT embraced the standards and assessment reform that began with A Nation at Risk and supported testing new teachers. Initially the AFT neither endorsed or opposed NCLB, but Sandra Feldman’s 2003 comments suggest an endorsement:
The federal NCLB Act poses yet another test of our ability to be con- structive, responsive, and creative while simultaneously fighting and protecting against the indefensible. The law is built around goals we’ve long supported: high academic standards and achievement, eradicating achievement gaps between the haves and the have-nots, making sure that every teacher in every school is qualified, and, yes, accountability. The law also mandates reporting outcomes by student subgroup which is the right thing to do because it puts inequities out there for all to see. (Feldman, S. (2003, July). Keynote address to the AFT QuEST (Quality Education Standards in Teaching) conference, Washington, DC.)
AFT’s opposition to test driven reform has, however, been sharper in recent years in response to pressure from its rank and file members. The AFT’s conservatism and strategy of working behind the scenes doesn’t obviously position the teacher union that represents most urban school teachers as a force for change. Current president Randi Weingarten’s testimony before the House Committee on Education and Labor suggests a continued support for national standards, standardization, and using test scores (at least in part) in determining teacher pay.
So, good for the AFT for creating this blog, but here’s hoping they do much more to contribute to a quality work life for their members, and quality education for children living in US cities.