NEW YORK—The United States and nations throughout the world must be united in pursuing the goal of providing every child a great education in strong, safe neighborhood public schools, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said today to mark World Teachers' Day events at the United Nations.
Weingarten's call came as Education International, of which the AFT is a member, launched "UNITE for Education—Better Quality Education for a Better World," a global campaign to secure high-quality education for all children. The U.S. event at the United Nations and the European event in Paris took place on World Teachers' Day.
"At the AFT, we are committed to seeing that every child is well-prepared to engage in the 21st century global knowledge economy and succeed. By doing this, we will reclaim the promise of public education, not as it is or was, but as we imagine it for our children," Weingarten said.
Weingarten noted the obstacles to success, including some of the most severe austerity budgets in decades, both in the United States and most other countries. She also pointed to the unrelenting attacks on teachers and unions that blame and shame them for low student achievement rather than giving them the resources and tools needed to help students succeed.
"We know what works. Like our economy, public education is a global enterprise. We should be doing what works, not constantly rolling out what fails. All we have to do is look at what top-performing countries are doing," she said, mentioning extensive teacher training, labor-management collaboration, teacher-to-teacher collaboration time, investment in education, and treatment of teachers unions as partners, not obstacles.
"With all my heart, I believe that when teachers unions, education leaders and civil society work together, we can make a difference for every child," Weingarten said.
Also on World Teachers' Day, AFT Vice President Michael Mulgrew, who heads New York City's United Federation of Teachers, participated in Ireland's national teaching festival, which was attended by Ireland's President Michael Higgins.
"Nothing beats teachers learning from teachers," Mulgrew said after watching sessions of teachers sharing ideas and practices. "Nobody knows teaching better than experienced classroom teachers."