American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten wants U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to practice what she preaches.
On Monday, May 6, at the annual Education Writers Association National Seminar, DeVos said that, “Great teachers should make at least half as much as Randi Weingarten makes at half a million dollars a year.” Weingarten’s been a vocal critic of DeVos, most recently calling her out for allegedly lying about a reduction in teachers’ union members since the Janus v. AFSCME decision.
In a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018, Janus v. AFSCME turned public sector employment into a “right to work” venture ruling that non-public sector union members didn’t have to pay dues to the union that represents them at the bargaining table.
According to a 990 tax form the AFT filed in 2016, Weingarten’s compensation that year was $510, 390.
Weingarten said that she’s happy DeVos wants to raise teachers’ salaries and then spoke of her record as a union leader in New York.
“It’s great that Betsy finally thinks higher teacher salaries are important,” said Weingarten in a statement. “More than a decade ago, when I was president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, we were able to bargain $100,000 for teachers who had a couple of decades of experience. While we disagreed on other things, Mayor Bloomberg and I worked hard to get that done.”
DeVos also suggested that teachers go on strike during “adult time” so kids aren’t hurt during school hours.
“I think it’s important that adults have adult disagreements on adult time, and that they not ultimately hurt kids in the process,” said DeVos on Monday. “I think too often they’re doing so by walking out of classrooms and having arguments in the way that they are.”
Teachers around the country are currently walking out pushing for better working conditions, salaries and benefits. On Wednesday, Oregon teachers planned on walking out of classrooms to protest a lack of funding and crowd sizes.
Weingarten told DeVos that teachers do deserve higher salaries and there’s a current presidential candidate with a plan that could help her achieve that goal.
“I’d be delighted if Betsy wants to get all teachers close to $200,000—they deserve that—and so much more,” stated Weingarten. “Let’s start by using a proposal like the one from Kamala Harris, who is actually with us today visiting public schools in Detroit and Dearborn and listening to the educators who teach our children. We could do this if Betsy worked with us to revoke tax cuts for rich people. She won’t even have to give up the summer homes and the yachts.”