WASHINGTON — The National Education Association called for Education Secretary Arne Duncan's resignation at its convention last week, and the next largest teachers' union might soon follow suit.
The American Federation of Teachers' annual convention starts this week, and though a resolution is not in the cards just yet, union president Randi Weingarten wouldn't rule out the possibility they too might call on Duncan to step down.
"Clearly we understand the sentiment of the NEA delegates. That same impulse led me to write a letter to Secretary Duncan criticizing his post-Vergara comments," Weingarten said in a statement emailed to BuzzFeed through a spokesperson. "The AFT convention is a real opportunity for our members to direct policy. Even though — unlike the NEA — local affiliates submit resolutions in advance of the convention and a call for the secretary's resignation is not in any of them, there will be plenty of opportunities for members to amend resolutions, so you never know what will happen on the floor. That's democracy."
The door is still open, but it remains to be seen if Weingarten will herself call for the resolution or address the Duncan issue at the convention.
The AFT has openly criticized President Barack Obama and Duncan on a number of issues, namely the administration's support for charter schools and using test scores to evaluate teachers.
Most recently Weingarten penned a letter to Duncan reprimanding him for supporting a judge's decision in the Vergara case that ruled against certain tenure statutes in the state. In her letter, she said Duncan "added to the polarization" between teachers and their schools.
Weingarten's statement was pre-empted by a Twitter debate she got into with education activist and blogger Diane Ravitch, who mentioned Weingarten in a post calling on the AFT to join the NEA's position.
Weingarten's response encouraged Ravitch and others to fire back, further pushing the union to sync up its message with the NEA.
Jacob Fischler is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.
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