I asked teachers union head Randi Weingarten today whether she shares Mayor Bloomberg’s optimism that the city will be able to use its federal stimulus funds to avert thousands of threatened teacher layoffs. “I’m glad the mayor is optimistic,” Weingarten said. But she said the stimulus money is “a big, big step forward but not enough” to insulate schools and children from budget cuts this year. The video above shows Weingarten’s complete response.
Weingarten also told me she’s hopeful that the city will use some of its stimulus money to build up social services at some schools with particularly needy families. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan didn’t say today whether he’d like to see stimulus money used that way. But as the head of Chicago’s school system, Duncan promoted that city’s “community schools” model, where schools act as neighborhood centers that offer medical, mental health, and family support services. Weingarten pushed the model in her first speech as president of the national teachers union; that speech took place last July in Chicago.