WASHINGTON Nov 18th— The head of the American Federation of Teachers signaled the union's willingness Monday to work broadly on education reform with the incoming Obama administration. It said that, with the exception of school vouchers, "no issue should be off the table." AFT president Randi Weingarten cautioned lawmakers nationwide against a "disinvestment in education" in the face of the economic meltdown. She warned that cutting aid to schools "places our economy in a race to the bottom for years to come."
Weingarten already has told Congress that schools must be included in economic stimulus plans. She testified last month that lawmakers should add $20 billion to a social-services block grant to help state and local governments balance budgets without cutting education. She also said schools need $286 billion for buildings improvements.
Weingarten challenged parents, teachers, school administrators and business, labor and community leaders — as well as lawmakers — to broaden the reforms they consider to include, among others, universal preschool, charter schools and "community schools" that offer round-the-clock social services. The union and other education groups oppose taxpayer-funded private-school vouchers, saying they drain funding from public schools.(By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY)