Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


David Messer


In March 2008, the Center for Union Facts initiated a “contest” in which they pledged “to pay the ten worst “union-protected” teachers in America $10,000 apiece to get out of the classroom.” The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association seem to be the real targets of the program. Edward J. McElroy, former President of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “The misnamed Center for Union Facts, an anti-union front group run by lobbyist Richard Berman, has announced the launch of a new “assault” on teachers that will include television and newspaper advertising.” The Center’s website talks at length about the difficulty in firing “bad teachers.” In addition to telling teachers how to decertify their union, the site includes the statement that “poor-performing tenured teachers are “rarely or never” terminated.” Now, two years later director Davis Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott have resurrected the assault on teacher unions and tenure in “Waiting for Superman.” Current AFT President Randi Weingarten (2008) has responded by saying that “the film casts several outliers in starring roles-for example, “bad” teachers and teachers unions as the villains, and charter schools as heroes ready to save the day. The problem is that these caricatures are more fictional than factual.” While disagreeing totally with the campaign and the apparent pretense of the documentary, I have found one basic fact to be true – “poor-performing tenured teachers are “rarely or never” terminated.”