Former NYC teacher's union boss could be named Biden's Education Secretary

Randi Weingarten
Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers Union (AFT), looks over her papers during a news conference at the National Press Club January 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. Photo credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet has been taking form in recent days and the Democrat is expected to announce his first round of personnel choice on Tuesday.

Biden has already picked Ron Klain as White House Chief of Staff and Janet Yellen as Treaury Secretary. He is also expected to pick Antony Blinken as Secretary of State, according to reports.

Another potential cabinet pick for the Biden administration is a name New Yorkers know well: the former head of the United Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten.

She now leads the American Federation of Teachers and her name has been floated for Education Secretary.

WCBS 880’s Steve Burns spoke with Weingarten recently to ask how she feels about the possible job and her feelings around Biden himself.

Q: What was your experience like with [Biden] when he was a part of the Obama administration?

“You know, it's not a secret that the Obama administration had a different view of schooling than we did at times and they were very focused on a top-down accountability model. They were real believers in public schooling but, they also believed that the market could it do far more than, frankly, we think it can. You have to actually meet the needs of all children, not hope that an accountability system will shake everybody up. And what I have found was that Joe Biden, during that period of time, really was our go-to person. He would deeply listen – very, very, very loyal to the president, as the vice president has to be, but he would find ways to not just listen, but to find a mechanism by which we could really try to solve problems.”

Q: And the First Lady-to-be has to be a point of pride for you as well. What kind of influence do you think she, as someone who wants to continue teaching in the White House even, what kind of influence do you think she could have on the policy here?

“I think it's revolutionary and I think that will have a real renaissance in terms of public education. She has the lived experience of what it takes to meet the needs of kids and I think that's going to be really helpful in terms of lifting up, not just the work that workers do, but the work that teachers do.”

Q: Curious seeing your name being floated for Secretary of Education. Is that a post you consider?

“I'm honored that my name has been bandied about. Ultimately, I love the job that I have. Because of the AFT, I get to do work to make sure that workers have a fair shake, make sure that educators have a fair shake and work to make sure that students and families have their shake. But, it would be wrong to not say that I was very honored and moved that my name has been out there.”

According to a Politico report, another pick for Education Secretary could be Lily Eskelsen García, who led the National Education Association – the largest teacher’s union in the United States – from 2014 to 2020.

Biden has said his education secretary should be someone with experience as a public school teacher.

Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, has been a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College since 2009. Prior to that, she taught reading and English in high schools for 13 years.