January 20, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Kenneth Feinberg’s Framework for Handling Allegations of Teacher Wrongdoing
In January of last year, the AFT asked Kenneth Feinberg to develop a fair, transparent and expeditious procedure for addressing allegations of teacher wrongdoing. His recommendations, which establish clear guidelines and a 100-day timeline for the process, were released today.
WASHINGTON—On first review, Ken Feinberg has developed a thoughtful and common sense approach for addressing accusations of teacher wrongdoing—a rare but serious problem in schools. It attempts to ensure fairness and due process, as well as transparency and expediency.
We asked Feinberg to take on this challenge because, regardless of state statutes, the process and the way it is implemented are broken, and teachers and their unions are taking the blame. At times, the current process has allowed unfit teachers to remain in the classroom; at other times, it has allowed false allegations to ruin a teacher’s career.
Feinberg’s proposal identifies 10 specific categories of wrongdoing, and lays out a precise, rational and easy-to-understand process for dealing with them. The proposal balances fairness and speed, protects teachers and students, and allows a range of sanctions depending on the seriousness of the findings. It establishes a path for an informal resolution within 20 days, and ensures that, if a formal hearing is necessary, the final judgment will be made within 100 days.
It’s a template for a process that is fairer and more efficient than the laws currently on the books.
Next month, the AFT’s executive council will consider this proposal.
Addressing the rare occasions of teacher wrongdoing is a natural next step in the AFT’s work to improve teacher quality. We are continuing our work, already under way in hundreds of districts, to overhaul teacher development and evaluation systems, and we will do everything we can to ensure that teachers and students have the conditions and tools they need to succeed.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.