final argument

New York

On NY1, Weingarten floats making the word "tenure" optional

Teachers union president Randi Weingarten and one of her chief adversaries, charter school operator Eva Moskowitz, provided some of the conflict expected during their live television debate tonight. But by the end of the segment on NY1's "Road to City Hall," host Dominic Carter had gotten the pair to agree to visit each other's schools, and Weingarten had suggested that she's prepared to jettison the word "tenure" when it comes to negotiating with charter schools, which typically are not unionized. Moskowitz kicked off the debate with a trademark attack on the teachers union, saying that inflexible, "top-down" union contracts inhibit schools from flexibly meeting student needs. She said later in the segment that teachers are "fleeing" traditional public schools, noting that 7,000 people applied for just 52 teaching positions in the four Harlem Success charter schools that she runs. Weingarten appeared exasperated as she told Moskowitz that such a characterization of the teachers contract is outdated. "Maybe it's been a long time, in terms of you not looking at the UFT-Board of Education contract," she said. "There's a lot of flexibility in that contract these days." Weingarten repeatedly emphasized that she wasn't interested in making the conversation a debate about unions vs. charter schools. She said charter schools should be considered incubators for innovation, reiterating a statement she first made last week at an event hosted by the conservative Manhattan Institute. "Let's make them great laboratories of labor relations as well," she said. "I would love it if we could do some contracts in your schools," Weingarten said to Moskowitz. Later, Weingarten said, "Eva, listen, let's try to not continue a path of conflict. ... In your schools, let's find a way to do due process without the word tenure."