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Randi Weingarten
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RANDI WEINGARTEN is president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal employees; and early childhood educators. She was elected in July 2008, following 11 years of service as an AFT vice president.

In the months immediately following her election, Weingarten launched major efforts to place education reform and innovation high on the nation’s agenda. In September 2008, Weingarten led the development of the AFT Innovation Fund, a groundbreaking initiative to support sustainable, innovative and collaborative reform projects developed by members and their local unions to strengthen our public schools.

Weingarten served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 nonsupervisory educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education.

For 10 years, Weingarten chaired New York City’s Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella organization for the city’s 100-plus public sector unions, including those representing higher education and other public service employees. As chair of the MLC, she coordinated labor negotiations and bargaining for benefits on behalf of the MLC unions’ 365,000 members.

From 1986 to 1998, Weingarten served as counsel to UFT president Sandra Feldman, taking a lead role in contract negotiations and enforcement, and in lawsuits in which the union fought for adequate school funding and building conditions. A teacher of history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights from 1991 to 1997, Weingarten helped her students win several state and national awards debating constitutional issues.

Elected as the local union’s assistant secretary in 1995 and as treasurer two years later, she became UFT president after Feldman became president of the AFT. Weingarten was elected to her first full term as UFT president in 1998 and was re-elected three times.

Weingarten is known as a reform-minded leader who has demonstrated her commitment to improving schools, hospitals and public institutions for children, families and their communities. She has fought to make sure teachers and school support personnel are treated with respect and dignity, have a voice in the education of their students, and are given the support and resources they need to succeed in the classroom.

With her leadership as AFT president, the union has pursued an agenda that reforms education by holding everyone accountable, revamping how teachers are evaluated, and ensuring that children have access to broad and deep curriculum as well as wraparound services. The AFT agenda fights against finger-pointing and calls for a continued investment in education. It also highlights the work that teachers, nurses and public employees do every day to make a difference in the lives of others.

Weingarten holds degrees from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law. She worked as a lawyer for the Wall Street firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan from 1983 to 1986. She is an active member of the Democratic National Committee and numerous professional, civic and philanthropic organizations. Born in 1957 and raised in Rockland County, N.Y., Weingarten now resides on Long Island and in Washington, D.C.

Entries by Randi Weingarten

Every Child Matters

(38) Comments | Posted March 16, 2014 | 12:13 PM

New Yorkers don't hold back. They took a strong stand in the last mayoral election on many things, particularly on education: They want a new direction in public schooling, one that helps all kids, not just some, from prekindergarten through college. And that's what they got--a mayor devoted to the...

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A Hand Up Is Not a Handout

(62) Comments | Posted February 16, 2014 | 1:57 PM

Americans love the notion that we can all pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. Yet in this time when millions of jobs have vanished in the United States, supports for struggling Americans are crumbling, and education budgets have been squeezed and slashed, we need to focus on another enduring American...

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Are We There Yet? Going the Distance for the Family and Medical Leave Act

(1) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 10:00 AM

In honor of the 21st anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, Family Values at Work asked activists around the country to reflect on what FMLA means in their states, how states are taking action to improve upon this seminal law and where we still need to do work....

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A War on Poverty, or on the Poor?

(24) Comments | Posted January 18, 2014 | 9:37 AM

What does today's war on poverty look like? It's waged by people like Maria Shriver, who this week called attention to a human tragedy: the 42 million women and 28 million children in America who either live in poverty or are on the brink of it....

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Teaching and Learning Over Testing

(55) Comments | Posted January 10, 2014 | 10:20 AM

I'm often asked how I can be in favor of the Common Core State Standards while opposing the standardized-testing fixation in education and other failed market-based education strategies. The question is as revealing as the answer; unfortunately, the standards have come to be associated with testing rather than...

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A New Majority for Our Schools, Our Solutions

(71) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 7:10 AM

It has the feel of Groundhog Day: Another international education comparison, another round of hand-wringing and finger-pointing, and then right back to the same policies. You know what they say about the definition of insanity.

The latest results come from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted...

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Early Learning: This Is Not a Test

(3) Comments | Posted November 17, 2013 | 4:19 PM

Early childhood education is "in" these days--from the bipartisan bill introduced in Congress this week modeled on President Obama's proposal to expand high-quality early learning experiences, to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's proposal to provide universal prekindergarten to every 4-year-old in New York City, to the

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Will States Fail the Common Core?

(46) Comments | Posted November 2, 2013 | 7:39 PM

The Common Core State Standards are taking so many hits these days that some might wonder why so many people think they should play an important role in American education. In our competitive, fast-changing global economy, if students don't have higher-order capabilities like critical thinking and problem solving,...

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Two Visions

(40) Comments | Posted October 20, 2013 | 9:30 AM

If you had $50,000 or more to invest in the privatization of public education, you could have been welcome at a recent meeting in Philadelphia of self-described school reformers. But if you're an educator or parent interested in strengthening public education, you'd be out of luck, because that

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A Better Rx for Brooklyn -- and the Nation

(5) Comments | Posted September 15, 2013 | 12:30 AM

There's a bitter irony to the "prescriptions" often given to struggling hospitals -- closure, consolidation, downsizing and privatization. They invariably make the situation worse. And they fail to address the underlying factors that cause health care facilities to struggle -- large numbers of uninsured patients; reimbursement formulas that...

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Reclaiming the Promise of the March on Washington

(82) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 10:13 AM

"We've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition." --"I Have a Dream" speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington

Martin Luther King Jr. and other champions of civil rights led the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to "dramatize," as...

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Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education

(263) Comments | Posted July 28, 2013 | 11:40 AM

The idea that teachers have the summer off is something of a myth. I recently spent a few days with several thousand teachers -- not at the beach, but at TEACH, the AFT's largest gathering of educators focused on their professional practice and growth. Teachers spent long days...

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Drowning in Debt to Get a Degree

(151) Comments | Posted June 16, 2013 | 2:25 PM

Higher education in America is caught in a vise of competing realities. While not the only road to success, access to higher education is vitally important for individuals to be able to participate in today's changing economy and for the United States to maintain its global competitiveness. Indeed, the number...

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Common Core: Do What It Takes Before High Stakes

(29) Comments | Posted May 19, 2013 | 2:22 AM

America's public education system could be on the brink of a once-in-a-generation revolution. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for math and English language arts. The CCSS are a sharp departure from the too-common superficial sprint through...

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Healing Our Healthcare System

(14) Comments | Posted April 20, 2013 | 3:01 PM

I have yet to see a perfect piece of legislation, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare, has real flaws. But even at this early stage, its accomplishments are important. Millions of previously uninsured people have gained healthcare coverage; the law...

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Reading, Writing and Recklessness

(16) Comments | Posted March 17, 2013 | 11:16 AM

The F-35 fighter jet is the costliest weapons system in U.S. history, yet it is virtually recession-proof and largely shielded even from the sequester. Production of the jets is spread across so many congressional districts that the F-35 program's budget has been immunized by the legions of representatives...

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Children and Schools Will Pay the Price for Sequestration

(40) Comments | Posted February 28, 2013 | 8:42 AM

Participating in the Washington blame game is not going to stop the dangerous across-the-board cuts set to kick in this Friday. These cuts are not just numbers. Every cut and every dollar has a real-life, real-world, disastrous consequence.

This faux crisis will throw cold water on our...

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A Great Opportunity for the Land of Opportunity

(15) Comments | Posted February 16, 2013 | 11:35 AM

President Obama made the case in his State of the Union address last week for swift passage of comprehensive immigration reform. His powerful call for Congress to "get this done" brought members on both sides of the aisle to their feet and made it clear that, after decades...

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From Grief to Action

(13) Comments | Posted January 18, 2013 | 4:21 PM

Gun violence is a tragic, pervasive part of American life. Assassins' bullets have felled presidents and national icons. Americans are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than residents of other developed countries. Even those who had grown numb to the everyday carnage were shaken...

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Our (Extra)ordinary Public Schools

(1) Comments | Posted December 18, 2012 | 12:41 PM

America's schools are filled with extraordinary people -- as was made clear by the brave actions of educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School to protect their students from unspeakable terror. The curtain was pulled back, allowing the world to see what teachers do and the passion and love they have...

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