Non-profit

Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN)

Website:

www.turnweb.org

Project of:

Consortium for Educational Change

The Teacher Union Reform Network is a pro-labor union organization founded and headed by Adam Urbanski, the longtime head of the Rochester Teachers Union and Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers. The organization focuses on promoting pro-teacher union policies and opposing education policies that increase parent choice such as charter schools. TURN is a project of the Consortium for Educational Change and affiliated with both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. [1]

Background

The founder and Director of TURN is Adam Urbanski, a longtime teachers’ union official who has worked as the president of the Rochester Teachers Union in Rochester, New York, since 1981. Urbanski has been prominent in the labor world since the late 1980s, and also currently serves as a national vice president for the American Federation of Teachers. Despite not having taught in a classroom since he became head of the local union in 1981, Urbanski received over $100,000 in salary from Rochester Public Schools as recently as 2015, in addition to $50,000 from the union. [2]

In 1995, TURN was founded by Urbanski as a labor union-backed group that seeks to engage local teachers’ unions in support of union-backed education policies. TURN had the backing of the national leadership of both the AFT and the National Education Association. TURN is closely affiliated with the left-of-center education advocacy group Consortium for Educational Change, which has received substantial funding from the Gates FoundationFord Foundation, and Joyce Foundation. [3]

TURN is a project of the Consortium for Educational Change, a nonprofit pro-labor union group that bills itself as a consulting agency for educational reform in public schools. [4]

TURN and Urbanski have garnered criticism alongside the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers from other left-leaning labor activists for splitting “school workers from the communities they serve, educators from parents and kids, people of color from white people, teachers from other school workers.” [5] TURN is further derided as “a cluster of second-tier union leaders who want to claim the mantle of ‘genuine agents of change.’”[6]

Activity

Aside from authoring pro-labor union newsletters and publications, the work of TURN mostly focuses around hosting regional conferences for teacher-union officials with annual events in California, the Midwest, Northwest, Northeast, southwest, and mid-Atlantic. [7]

Opposition to Charter Schools

Along with most left-leaning public-school teachers unions, TURN opposes the existence of charter schools. However, in 1999, Urbanski praised charter schools while simultaneously declaring his opposition to government-funded support for private school choice. Later, in 2017, Urbanski repudiated his prior support for charter schools in an interview with In These Times, a far-left pro-labor union publication. He stated that instead of charter schools existing, public schools could be “leaders of change.” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten also declared her support for Urbanski and TURN’s ideas in that interview. [8]

References

  1. “About.” TURN. Accessed November 16, 2020. https://www.turnweb.org/about/ ^
  2. Andreatta. David. “Rest Assured Reporters are Watching.” Democrat and Chronicle. May 18, 2013. https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/blogs/watchdog/2010/09/02/rest-assured-reporters-are-watching/2218963/ ^
  3. “Grant Visualizer: Consortium for Educational Change.” Foundation Search. Accessed November 16, 2020. www.foundationsearch.com ^
  4. “Home.” Consortium for Educational Change. https://www.cecweb.org/ ^
  5. Gibson, Rich and Ross, Wayne and Peterson, Michael. “A Wrong TURN for Teacher Unions.” Rich Gibson. Accessed November 16, 2020. https://richgibson.com/AWrongTurn.htm ^
  6. Gibson, Rich and Ross, Wayne and Peterson, Michael. “A Wrong TURN for Teacher Unions.” Rich Gibson. Accessed November 16, 2020. https://richgibson.com/AWrongTurn.htm ^
  7. “Conferences.” TURN. Accessed November 16, 2020. https://www.turnweb.org/conferences/ ^
  8. Cohen, Rachel. 2017. “When Unions Lead Education Reform”. In These Times Accessed November 16, 2020. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20683/unions-teachers-aft-nea-turn-workers-labor-movement ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

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