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July 11, 2014 3:54 PM Et Tu, AFT?

By Ed Kilgore

Soon after the National Educational Association called for the resignation of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, another blow to the alliance between the Obama administration and teachers unions is slowly but loudly occurring this weekend as the American Federation of Teachers signals its disenchantment with the Common Core Education Standards it long championed. Here’s former WaMo senior editor Haley Sweetland Edwards writing about it for TIME:

At its annual convention Friday in Los Angeles, AFT president Randi Weingarten is expected to announce that the union will underwrite $20,000 to $30,000 grants for teachers’ projects designed to rewrite and improve the Common Core standards, according to a press release.
While AFT stops short of outright opposing the Common Core, Weingarten has said that that option is not off the table. An hour-long open debate on Common Core is planned for the last day of the convention on Sunday, which could lead to a vote condemning the Common Core in its entirety. Some of AFT’s local chapters, including Chicago, have called for the union to end its support for Common Core entirely.
The AFT’s decision to distance itself from its once-avid support for the Common Core marks a major—and, some say, even potentially lethal—blow to the standards, which the White House has emphasized as its key priority in education.

While it’s unclear whether the NEA and AFT actions are in any way coordinated, it’s clear the unions are utilizing election-year leverage with Democrats to demand an attitude adjustment from the administration and perhaps a curbing if not firing of Duncan. But at a time when a conservative rebellion against Common Core is gaining fierce momentum, and as the standards are supposed to be reaching the final stage of refinement before implementation, something’s got to give.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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