AFT Yells, “Game On!”

Some were wondering how AFT, at its annual assembly, would top NEA and its official vote calling for EdSec Arne Duncan’s ouster. Would AFT call for the same? Would they seek heads on pikes?

Well, AFT has responded, and they decided to do so in the most political of ways. First, they announce the formation of “Democrats for Public Education,” a new 527 that will seek to inject addition teacher unionism in political races. While details of the new org are still being worked out, it’ll be co-chaired by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Dem political consultant Donna Brazile.

It is best seen as a direct counter to Democrats for Education Reform, a group that has grown more and more active in political campaigns. So,me traditional Dems in Los Angeles even tried to block them from using the “Democrats” word, questioning their allegiance to the party.

In welcoming the new group to the fold, DFER ED Joe Williams offered an appropriate Guns n Roses response, “Welcome to the jungle, baby!”

Then over the weekend. AFT also issued an email missive to rally the troops. Under the header of “Are You In?” AFT sent the following:

The promise of America isn’t disappearing by accident. We are being ripped off.

Today, I stood in front of 3,500 AFT members and leaders and asked them to pledge to push back and fight forward. Now I’m asking you.

Our students are suffering. Our families are being squeezed. Our communities are being starved. But it doesn’t have to happen this way.

Will you pledge to stand with us—in our communities, in our workplaces, and at the ballot box?

Our enemy is organized and motivated. They blame teachers for struggling schools. They blame public employees for budget deficits. They blame workers for the broken economy. They sell austerity as the solution while they buy elections, push radical legislation and fund court cases to strip us of our rights.

They use their wealth to build power. Our strength is people-powered. It’s in our members, our leaders and the communities we serve. Despite the vast challenges we face, our ranks continue to grow. Today, our union is 1.6 million members strong.

We work every day to create a better life for our members and the communities we serve. More and more, we’re fighting together to reclaim the promise that’s being stolen from us.

Take the pledge, and join us as we push back and fight forward.

This is the promise we believe in: If you work hard, you have a fair shot to get ahead. Your children can attend a great neighborhood public school, no matter where you live. You can get high-quality healthcare without going broke. Your tax dollars will help build and support a safe community for all of us. You’ll be treated fairly at work, and you’ll get a real raise once in a while. A lifetime of work will earn a retirement with dignity.

While we’re fighting for big things, no action is too small. We need you to do whatever you can. Commit to engage your colleagues in the fight. To build power at the ballot box. To share our work online and in person. To work hand in hand with the communities we serve.

Joe, it seems Randi Weingarten’s retort is “game on.” The big question is whether the new AFT response results in the sort of power they seek come Election Day. Will the new AFT call be a reason for folks to vote in coming elections, or will it be an also ran, as education issues have been for decades. Only time will tell.

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