It is a soul-searching moment for the teachers’ unions, the Huffington Post reports. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest educators’ union in the country, met Wednesday for about an hour with a group of more than a dozen progressive activists and bloggers. Before the meeting kicked off, she sat in a folding chair against a wall in a windowless office, chatting with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Weingarten told Dean that the teachers’ unions face “an existential threat.” She then turned to talk with the activists and bloggers. Their discussion was marked by a sense of concern that, as Daily Kos blogger Dante Atkins put it, teachers’ unions are becoming known as “the recalcitrant ones.”

“What’s the strategy almost for image rehabilitation?” Atkins asked.

Weingarten did not explicitly reject the premise of the question — that the unions’ biggest problem is that they’ve been out-messaged. She paused for a moment and responded, “I’m not an image maker. I’m kind of a doer.”

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staff and wire services reports