This is the eighth in a series of open letters to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. The first seven can be accessed here.
By Larry Sand
My Dearest Randi,
What is going on! It has been a year since my last missive, and I have not heard a peep from you. This is not the first time you have snubbed me, however. When I tried to say hi to you outside the Supreme Court after the Janus oral arguments in 2018, you refused to even look at me, and then turned to a newsman and launched into a kooky rant, insisting that unions “actually make communities safer and…the right-wing is threatened by that.”
Is it possible you are still ticked about our initial meeting in 2010 when Terry Moe, Rod Paige and I devoured you and two co-unionistas in a humiliating debate loss in New York City?
Worse, you’ve ignored all the heartfelt advice I have given you over the years, and I am really worried about you, girl! Most recently, you’ve had a whirlwind tour of all around silliness, half-truths, hyperbole and downright lies. Regarding the latter, you are beginning to make Bill Clinton look like Honest Abe.
In the silliness category, you recently wrote, “When crisis strikes, teachers are there.” What you should have said is, “When union bosses get teachers riled up, they strike” – as they have done most recently in Oakland, Sacramento, Minneapolis, and elsewhere. Teachers don’t strike for students, you silly goose! They walk out for higher pay, bigger budgets, less competition, etc.
Then there is the half-truth about your teaching career. In an article called “Choosing aspiration over anger,” you wrote, “I taught social studies and civics.” Not the first time you claimed to be a teacher. But when you look an inch or two below the surface, we see a teensy-weensy exaggeration. You say that you taught history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn from 1991 to 1997, but in 2011, EAG News obtained your personnel file via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. According to the New York City Board of Education, you were hired as a substitute teacher in 1991, received a provisional license in 1993, and a certificate to serve as a substitute in 1994. Additionally, “A 1997 letter indicates you didn’t submit documentation showing you’d met requirements for licensure. No record indicates you ever served as a full-time teacher or were evaluated by a principal or other school official.”
Yet, you have never acknowledged these details or corrected the record. In fact, when you ran for president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers in 1998, your opponent Michael Shulman suggested that you were not a “real teacher,” saying, “She worked five months full-time that I’ve been aware of, in 1992, at Clara Barton High School,” Shulman was quoted as saying in the New York Times. He added, “Since then she taught maybe one class for 40 minutes a day.” I suggest that if there are any inaccuracies in the FOIL or Shulman’s comment, you address them ASAP.
In the hyperbole arena, you recently uttered something truly bizarre. After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Florida’s House Bill (HB) 1557, which disallows or limits schools from instructing children in certain sexual matters, you just went bonkers, claiming, “We have to let gay kids and gay teachers — frankly we have to let everyone talk about their lived experience.” That’s part of how you build relationships. That’s part of how you unite people. That’s part of how you save democracy.”
What?! My 3rd grade teacher, Miss McCormick, never delved into her sex life, thank God, and it did not affect my relationship with her one iota. She did teach me how to read, write and do arithmetic, however. And the fact that she never detailed her bedroom activities or lack thereof, hardly imperiled democracy.
Then you jumped the proverbial shark.
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