tv Newsmakers Randi Weingarten CSPAN February 25, 2018 12:50pm-1:22pm EST
i will begin with your response to the president calling for teachers to be armed in our nation's schools? randi: it is a terrible idea. stop., full but it saddens me, because it absolutely no understanding that children, parents, and educators all want and need schools to be safe sanctuaries for teaching and learning, not armed fortresses. not armed camps. and it felt like go, this is what the nra has wanted all along. this is now a new market for the gun manufacturers. and this is where the president, after that listening session, to ok this conversation instead of actually trying to reduce gun
violence in our streets and our schools? so if you think about it pragmatically, it is an insane suggestion, because what are you going to do in terms of teachers? are kindergarten teachers going to wear their guns on their hips? where are you going to lock guns? are you talking about just handguns versus and ar-15 that can shoot 90 rounds in a minute? so what happens if kids are rushing along in a hallway? what is a frightened teacher going to do? as the new york times editorial said today -- i could go through all of these unanswered questions, and the more questions you go through, the more you realize what an insane idea it is. and frankly, i was on the phone with about 60,000 teachers and other educators this week, and we raised this idea as one of
the ideas that the president has said, and universally, including gun owners, people said no, this is crazy. and then you saw what happened with the sheriff's deputy. so the whole idea of the good guy with the gun is debunked. that guy, being completely immobilized, a guy who had a gun outside of the school. for all of these reasons, it is a terrible idea. teachers do wants to protect students. their instinct is to protect students. but we should not ever become a shooting gallery in a school. host: the president also proposed providing bonuses for teachers who are armed in -- or who could be trained with these guns in schools. of thisyou make proposal, as teachers and west virginia went on strike for not
having received a bonus, and teachers are fairly underpaid. randi: that is what is ironic, that the president, when it comes to something that he thinks is important, he wants to pay for it. as opposed to what we know is important, which is how do you attract and retain brave people into teaching? that is the issue in west virginia this week. and it has been an issue for a while. i was in charleston this week. and i have never seen that level of anger and that number of educators in and around the capital and west virginia. as you know, i spent a lot of time in west virginia because of this partnership to revitalize the eighth poorest county in the country.
i spent a lot of time at that capital and i spent a lot of time in west virginia. here is the deal with west virginia. teachers and west virginia are paid 48th out of 50 in the nation. in the surrounding counties and states are all paid a lot more. in fact, there are 1.1 million people that live in west virginia. surrounding states pay their teachers between $5,000 and $30,000 more. the straw that broke the camel's back was that not only have teachers in west virginia not gotten raises in the last few years, as more and more republican-controlled states has to businesses, which has not actually increased economic development, teachers have not gotten raises tax cuts , have gone to businesses, schools have gotten cut, and that the same time, the premiums
for health care have been shifted to teachers. 2017,s year, november teachers -- because of a huge premium hike -- are seeing a decrease in their salaries, so that their salaries are lower than they were in 2012. and that -- in january, the republican legislature and the governor decided it was important to give correctional officers a raise, which it is important, but they proposed nothing for teachers. so that level of disrespect and provokede this. ultimately, what we need to do in west virginia is teachers need to be assured that they are -- their health insurance plans are going to be funded. not just that there will be a patch on it until the day after
election day. and they do not trust this legislature in doing that. and that is why there is a strike. every single state, every single county closed, and parents are supporting teachers. they do not want teachers to be doing a second or third job, when they should be preparing papers. and they do not want to do that, they want to teach kids. and like any other state in the i am a big coal person. me and the coal miners are very close, and the coal miners are supporting teachers. but west virginia's economy is going to change. some coal may come back, but coal is not going to be the dominant industry there. you need to have a public education system and a higher education system in west virginia as a bridge to that. that is what teachers are saying, and the legislature
there refuses to listen. caitlin: if federal funding did come from the government for school safety, how do you think it should be used? randi: i think there are three buckets we need to focus on in terms of school safety. you know, unfortunately, this comes from -- my knowledge on this is from these theories of terrible incidents that have happened in and around schools. even from handguns usage in school, when i was the president of the uft in new york city years ago. remember thomas jefferson high school? there was a handgun there. so there is a lot of work that has been done on this. and i really want to lift up like abby clemens in sandy hook elementary school.
like the teachers in stoneman douglas right now like the kids , in stoneman douglas, like the sandy hook promise, because they have taken these tragedies, these massacres, and have been relentless and tenacious in trying to fight for common sense reduction of gun violence measures, as well as a safety measures in schools, as well as resources for well-being and mental health measures. three buckets -- school safety. i think that we need school safety resource officers at entrances of schools.
i think communities should make a decision about whether or not they should be armed. i have spent much time with my compatriots in the civil rights movements who are very, very concerned about these officers in schools. let's talk about school safety officers, not uniformed police officers. let's talk about the training they need. i think that people need to see and have that kind of sense of assurance that there will be someone in or around a school that is trained all throughout the country. that is number one. number two, as much as i hate all of the active shooter training, just like fire drills and other drills, we need to do this. but we cannot actually do this in a vacuum. we cannot have the drills, which are important, without also
making sure we have enough funding for the support services that children in america need today. whether it be guns counseling, social work, school nurses, mental health support, we need to have all of that. and not just target and say that nicholas cruz needed mental health services. we cannot do it after the fact. we tried to do with the new education law, is say that title iv should have a lot of the services. two kinds of buckets should be there. two days before parkland, betsy devos put out a budget that
reduced these things. the third thing is, and i know this gets controversial. if canada can do this, europe can do this, we need to have commonsense sense gun measures that restrict the ability of people to have access to automatic weapons and the munitions that come with that. we need to have background checks. frankly, the gun at manufacturers should not be immunized as they are in federal law. tobacco manufacturers were not immunized, auto manufacturers were not immunized, gun manufacturers should not be immunized.
both are common sense measures. if you talk to gun owners, of which i am not one, they will say very similar things. caitlin: what, if any guidelines, to teachers have if they have troubled students in their classroom? what is the protocol of how they are supposed to report to authorities a troubled child they feel could be a threat? randi: let's put it this way. this has got every which way in terms of federal rules and regulations. much of this is governed by state. there are federal civil rights laws that also need to be in the mix. we have actually had to separate pages on this.
i want to be really careful here. one of the things never actually done, which i think we have done right, is to actually look at the data in the last few years. schools were suspending and expelling a disproportionate number of black and brown. there has been a real focus on how do we find ways to make sure we have justice programs or equity programs to be sure we are meeting kids where their needs are instead of using suspension and expulsion. that is one piece of work that needs to continue. that, separate and apart from someone like a nicholas cruz. if you talk to kids from
stoneman douglas, many of the kids would say that everybody knew something was up with this kid. and the school actually did a lot of the right things. one of the stewards at the school said on saturday at a union meeting we had, the school had done everything right. the state had no resources. they did not track it, they did not follow it. the state did not know that the mother had died. the sheriff had said the were many other red flags. not just the fbi not following the tip. if you do not have resources, how are people going to do anything but triage. the resources are very important.
we have 50 districts or so talking about that and trying to push that, and there are many advocates out there saying let's make sure our schools have wraparound services. not just having a social worker or psychiatrist who is there to do a special education review or assessment, but having it to have real resources in a school. for example, i was a teacher in brooklyn new york in the dinosaur age, in the 1990's, but we still had in my school guidance counselors, and two days a week a psychiatrist. one day, i will never forget this. i am in a class and one of my kids comes into class looking completely vacuous.
you could see it, touch it, feel it. she was a complete zombie. so i break every rule in the book, every rule. i leave my classroom. i take my kid. i hold her tight to me. i asked one of the kids to lead the class or whatever. i'm on the opposite side of the school. i walk all the way around the guy did sweet, and i say, please, she needs help. because i know the school and these folks, everybody helped her. what happened? her father had been murdered. but she saw the school as safety. she saw my classroom as somewhere where she could get some degree of refuge. this is what we need in schools. if we do not have that in
schools, kids are vulnerable. and this takes resources. kids have anxieties now, and we need to deal with it. teachers now have lots of anxieties. look at those teachers and douglas. the same thing happened in newtown and so many other situations. teachers have it in themselves to protect kids. that is the instinct. caitlin: talking about a major supreme court case. it is a case labor unions have been facing for a long time. with neil gorsuch on the court, it appears there is a conservative vote to strike it down.
i would like to realistically ask you, can you talk about the financial threat this purposes, and the threat to your membership? realistically, how bad could it be? randi: let me put the social studies teacher hat on for one second to say this. a lot of people have no idea what this case is about. in the united states of america, the private sector has something called the nlra, the national labor relations act. employees can decide whether they want to have unions, who then negotiate the terms and conditions with employers. the public sector has the same thing. under the 10th amendment of the constitution, states can decide how they want to regulate
activities with their employees. 23 states have decided that their employees are entitles to collective bargaining. if the union represents people, like teachers and new york city, than the obligation is to represent everybody. to do that everybody is a fair share. the people who decide not to be members, you still pay the fair share for that representation. that was challenged by the right wing about 45 years ago. in that case, a unanimous supreme court said the states have a right to do this and the unions have a right to do this. one of the supreme court
justices, in a case for years ago that was totally unrelated, say come back to us because we think it was decided wrongly. what this is is the right way -- right wing essentially wants more power than it has in the country. it is people like the devos family and various others. to answer your question directly, the koch brothers would not even give merit garland a hearing.
gorsuch gets confirmed and this case most of the supreme court in week later. we know that this is the koch brothers and all of those folks who do not want unions to have a voice representing people, because they know, historically and even now, if a person is represented by a union they have better wages that if a person is not. they also do not want us to do the kind of political work that we do. to answer your question directly, what we know is that if there was no pr campaign for anything else, probably what would happen is that over the
course of a year or so, the people who pay a fair share would get their choice very directly. probably about half of them would say we do not want it. of the 1.7 million members in our union, there are about 87,000. this is what we know will happen because we have already seen it. the koch brothers and others have announced their going to spend $400 million to break us, to break teachers unions, and try to undermine and destabilize public schools.
their words. they are going to do a bit public campaign that says you want a raise? get rid of your union dues. this is what we are seeing. this has actually been a pretty cathartic moment for us. i think this case is brought by those ideological interests that want to destroy workers ability to have a better life.
but this has done within our union, it has been cathartic and transformative, as people are talking with each other in a way that i have not seen in a couple of decades. but we are seeing within our membership is that when our membership actually sees and understands it is the right wing wants to take away their four, they are really pissed. the evidence is pretty clear. when unions have gone through this kind of antiunion changes, the vote share for the democrats go down. in michigan and wisconsin the vote share would down by about 3.5% after these things were done in michigan and wisconsin.
host: we have to leave it there. thank you for being this weeks newsmaker. randi: thank you. host: we are back with our to reporters. erika, the president has said we should arm our teachers. we have just heard from the leader of the teachers union saying not a good idea. what has the effort and like on a state level, and have states tried this in the past? erica: the have been a few states that have allowed their school districts to keep weapons in the school buildings if they choose. it is a community decision, and there have opted for. i spoke to the superintendent of ohio yesterday who keeps weapons in the buildings. they have trained response teams composed of teachers,
administrators, and school staff who are confidential. they are prepared to respond. they have bullet-proof vest's. they say they have three minutes before first responders and the local communities can get to them. the teachers and school staff could get to a gun quicker. in california, the kingsburg school district also allow the teachers to carry weapons. that was revoked on january 1. i spoke with that superintendent yesterday who was not happy that that had happened. it is a real possibility that they could choose to take this route. caitlin: i think i would agree. there has been a lot of discussion recently about what the president is saying.
what does it mean coming from the federal government? it what essentially amounts to an enormous costly mandate when it comes to purchasing the guns, training the teachers, possibly providing some sort of bonus for teachers trained to use these weapons. i think that realistically it would be unlikely for congress to take up something like this. it seems like it would be more or less for states and local districts to decide. we had a story earlier this week that showed in states like texas this is allowed. few teachers are comfortable with this idea. it is sort of few and far between, even if they didn't allow it. host: erica, we also talked about the supreme court case
that is going to be heard on monday. what impact have you heard this could have if unions lost the ability to charge nonmembers to collective bargaining fee? erica: basically, what randy referenced, it would this empower the unions in political circles. the impact on the ground with teachers and administrators they represent. especially in this political climate, i have heard a lot of teachers express a lot of concern about what could happen to their rights as workers in states. we have not heard from the union what a defunded union looks like, but in terms of the power it could have a real impact. host: what about political clout? caitlin: teachers are a stall wart of grassroots organizing and fundraising.
what remains to be seen is how much this decision what impact the unions financially and in terms of membership. both of those combined couldn't dampen their political activity. teachers are such an integral part of politics and the community, so it will be interesting to see what happens. i spoke to a number of local leaders this week ahead of the case, and they are still holding out hope that there is power in numbers. every single school district in the company has teachers that are some of the most engaged in the community. you cannot find a congressional district that does not have a teacher and it.