Randi Weingarten Defends Teachers' Union on Bill Maher

Posted by Nikhil Swaminathan

randi-weingartenWith the fight over teacher tenure that's been going on in recent months, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers-the country's second largest teachers' union-has seen her profile rise considerably.

As I wrote on this blog before, when she appeared before the firing squad on MSNBC's Morning Joe, she made a weak case for why we all should stop blaming teachers' unions for the state of our education system. That was not the case on this past weekend's episode of Real Time with Bill Maher.

When Maher finally pivoted from the antics of tea-bagging, far right Republicans in the wake of the passage of healthcare legislation, his focus turned to Weingarten and the reasons why so few teachers are fired each year in various city school systems. She parried and responded with numbers from non-unionized states where fewer than 1 percent of teachers lose their jobs each year-as well as the fact that Maryland, judged to be the country's most successful state with respect to education, is "wall-to-wall union."

Her most effective point: As ornery as Bill Maher is about bad teachers, good teachers (who educate alongside the bad teachers) are orders of magnitude more pissed off. Unfortunately, her talking points on getting better teacher training and evaluation programs continued to be vague (and Maher actually cut her off).

The conversation starts at around 7:10 in the first embedded video and continues at the beginning of the second. (If you're more interested in Weingarten's thoughts on the possible relaxation of marijuana laws in California, click here.)