There are many reasons for the size of her victory, but I would single out these in particular: The fact that the New York Post and the New York Daily News regularly tried to demonize Weingarten made her a hero to rank-and-file teachers. They knew she was taking a beating in the editorial columns because of her defense of the union. If the Post and News had hoped to strengthen her position as the spokesperson for teachers in the New York City public schools, then they could not have done a better job.
Credit must also go to Chancellor Joel Klein, who kept hammering away at the union long after Mayor Bloomberg signed a long-term contract with the UFT last fall. The more that Chancellor Klein and his spokespersons continued to talk about how they were going to diminish tenure or introduce merit pay or do other things unilaterally that would either be rejected by the union or required its cooperation, the more they turned Weingarten into a champion of teachers' rights.
It was ironic that the Department of Education put out a press release claiming that it was starting its campaign to limit the granting of tenure on the same day that Weingarten was winning her big victory. What the Department did, in fact, was just to send out an electronic notice to principals about which teachers were supposed to be certified as qualified for tenure--or not. This is hardly deserving of a press release. The administration has been in charge of tenure review and approval since the day it took charge in September 2002. Why has it taken nearly five years for them to figure this out? The announcement seems to be an inadvertent admission by the administration that it has been asleep at the wheel all these years, not paying attention to its fundamental responsibility for the awarding of tenure to qualified teachers.