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Randi Weingarten
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RANDI WEINGARTEN is president of the 1.6 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

Yearning to Breathe Free

(13) Comments | Posted January 17, 2016 | 12:14 AM

I recently had the thrill of seeing the Broadway musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda's brilliant mashup of history and hip-hop. Alexander Hamilton's story, of an impoverished youth immigrating to America and making his mark on his new country, is both remarkable and relatable. And it's a reminder that our...

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Education Policies Worthy of the Name 'Reform'

(6) Comments | Posted December 19, 2015 | 11:16 PM

The month before standardized tests begin each school year, Stephen Lazar, a National Board-certified history and English teacher at Harvest Collegiate High School in New York City, tells his students that he is going to "turn into a bad teacher. ... No more research, no more discussion, no...

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Charter Schools as Incubators or Charter Schools Inc.?

(10) Comments | Posted November 15, 2015 | 9:26 AM

When you hear the words "charter school," what comes to mind? High expectations? High student attrition? High achievement? Lack of transparency?

There's no right or wrong answer, because charter schools, like other public and private schools, vary widely. The top-ranked high school in Louisiana is a unionized charter...

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Race in America: Changing Reality By Facing It

(55) Comments | Posted October 18, 2015 | 6:00 PM

It has been said that racism is America's original sin. And today, well into our country's third century, we are far from free of it.

"Separate but equal" is no longer the law of the land, but for too many people, it is still a fact of life. African-Americans...

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When Unions Are Strong, Families Are Strong

(62) Comments | Posted September 20, 2015 | 9:26 AM

Republicans have staked out endless signature issues: shutting down the government, vilifying immigrants, denouncing rights like paid sick leave and equal pay because they are "women's issues," privatizing education, and -- wait for it -- obliterating the rights of working...

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The Power of Collective Voice

(29) Comments | Posted July 19, 2015 | 9:25 AM

Teaching is our heart. Our students are our soul. And the union is our spine.

I heard that sentiment over and over again this past week during the American Federation of Teachers' biennial TEACH conference, one of the largest professional development conferences for educators in the nation. That's...

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Walking the Walk for Working Families

(4) Comments | Posted June 20, 2015 | 9:22 PM

As we fight our way back from the recession, it's clear that our economy isn't working for everyone. Too many are out of work or have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Too many don't have the skills...

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Preying on the Promise of Higher Education

(65) Comments | Posted May 16, 2015 | 8:28 PM

There's a promise we make to the next generation: Graduate from college and you can get ahead. Indeed, recent studies show that college graduates earn $1 million more than high school graduates over their lifetimes.

Yet, as we make this promise, public higher education institutions nationwide are facing a

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A Step Forward in Washington, A Step Back in New York

(6) Comments | Posted April 19, 2015 | 1:48 PM

Something stunning happened this week in Congress. The Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 22-0 to overhaul No Child Left Behind. That's right, policymakers from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) listened to the people they're sworn to represent and found...

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A Tale of Two States

(64) Comments | Posted March 15, 2015 | 1:10 AM

It's a tale of two states.

They sit side by side, each taking in the views of Lake Superior. Their economies both grew from foundations in manufacturing, farming and mining, and they each boast a strong history of organized labor. And in 2010, still reeling from the recession, they elected...

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#Selma50: Voter Education, Suppression and Obligation

(3) Comments | Posted March 8, 2015 | 2:12 PM

Before I was a union leader, I was a high school social studies teacher. As my students -- juniors and seniors -- inched closer and closer to voter registration age, I worked hard not only to help them learn the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed, but also to...

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Leveling the Playing Field for Our Kids

(31) Comments | Posted February 15, 2015 | 9:23 AM

A high-quality public education can build much-needed skills and knowledge. It can help children reach their God-given potential. It can stabilize communities and democracies. It can strengthen economies. It can combat the kind of fear and despair that evolves into hatred.

On my recent visit to Israel, the...

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Renewing America's Labor Movement

(4) Comments | Posted January 18, 2015 | 9:14 AM

Across the country, people are clamoring to be heard. They want a voice.

These are people who work hard but never see their wages keep up. After a lifetime of work, they don't have a pension or savings for a secure retirement. They rack...

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Creating Healthy Minds With First Book

(0) Comments | Posted December 30, 2014 | 10:42 AM

I can't imagine my life without books. My father was an electrical engineer, and my mother was a public school teacher. Books were an integral part of my childhood. Throughout my career as a lawyer, teacher and labor leader, books have remained my constant companion -- stuffed into a briefcase,...

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Our Fight for Justice

(0) Comments | Posted December 21, 2014 | 1:18 AM

Our country strives to be a more perfect union -- one that believes in freedom, opportunity and justice for all. Every day, our union, the AFT, strives for fairness, democracy, economic opportunity and high-quality public education, health care and public services for our students, our families and our...

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The Promise of Career and Technical Education

(1) Comments | Posted November 15, 2014 | 12:33 PM

On the surface, the latest jobs report from the Department of Labor is good news -- an estimated 214,000 jobs were added in October, which translates into 54 months of job growth, the longest streak of uninterrupted private sector job growth in our nation's history.


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Our Plan to Contain Ebola

(5) Comments | Posted October 19, 2014 | 1:05 AM

It's no coincidence that the first two people to contract the Ebola virus in the United States are nurses. All over the country, nurses and health professionals are the first responders to each and every health crisis. Ebola is no exception.

We know this firsthand. As the second-largest nurses...

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The True Story of Public Education in America

(1) Comments | Posted September 21, 2014 | 10:38 AM

You've heard their mantra: Our public schools are failing because teachers don't care and policymakers are spending too much money to prop up a broken system. Campbell Brown and company, who could be called Michelle Rhee 2.0, have carried on this refrain. They say it's the...

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The Wal-Mart-ization of Education: Wal-Mart Wants Classrooms to Run More Like a Business, Teachers Are Fighting Back

(105) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 3:31 PM

As part of Wal-Mart's back-to-school marketing efforts, the company recently launched a series of teacher appreciation videos, ads, hashtags and discounts. Teachers--who routinely dig deep into their own pockets to pay for supplies and materials for their students--are grateful for appreciation in all its forms. They are understandably less pleased...

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Tuning in to Teachers

(0) Comments | Posted July 20, 2014 | 3:01 PM

Why would 3,500 people go to sun- and fun-filled Los Angeles and opt to spend the bulk of their time inside a cavernous convention hall? To be heard. This was the case last week at the American Federation of Teachers biennial convention, where educators spoke up forcefully and passionately about...

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