When American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten speaks today at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s event on teachers and school reform, one can expect her to tout her usual message of embracing some reforms while otherwise preserving the status quo that has helped the union and the National Education Association become the most-influential players in American public education. One also knows that she will offer up some statement about wanting school reform that is led by teachers, parents and communities even though revelations earlier this month by Dropout Nation prove otherwise. And that’s fine: No teachers’ union boss is simply going to roll over and embrace systemic reform, especially that which will rightfully weaken its influence.

But Weingarten should take this time and actually admit to the reality that the education traditionalism for which the union has long advocated no longer works for anyone — especially for the AFT’s own future. More importantly, she must acknowledge that defending a failed, amoral vision of education is a disservice to the very children whose futures she and the union claims to care about. Here are three statements she should make today instead of simply pulling from her talking points:

Weingarten should admit that the AFT’s current model of unionism isn’t fit for good-to-great young teachers, for taxpayers, or for children: Protecting the current teacher compensation system, with its seniority- and degree-based pay scales, seniority-based benefits, near-free healthcare and near-lifetime employment, may do plenty for Baby Boomer teachers. But for teachers with less than a decade of experience — who now make up the majority of the rank-and-file members in both the AFT and the NEA, it is of little value. They want to be evaluated for their performance in improving student achievement, deserve to be rewarded accordingly early in their careers instead of waiting nearly two decades to reap the full benefit packages, and should get recognition for good-to-great work. And that’s what current teacher compensation doesn’t do for them.

Ignoring the majority of one’s members isn’t a good long-term strategy. Eventually groups such as Educators4Excellence, dismayed by the continued opposition to reform, will break off and form their own professional associations. Reform-minded Republican governors (and even their Democratic counterparts) will pursue efforts similar to that done by Wisconsin’s Scott Walker to end collective bargaining and abolish force collection of dues from teachers. Once such a situation happens, AFT and NEA affiliates will have to prove their worth to their younger members — something they can’t actually do.

But the AFT shouldn’t just abandon 20th-century union model — and its defense of traditional teacher compensation — because it will lose members. For taxpayers and for children, it doesn’t work. The evidence overwhelmingly proves that there is no correlation between these benefits and improvements in student achievement. If anything, traditional teacher compensation is an impediment to improving teacher quality. Poor students are the ones who suffer from quality-blind reverse-seniority layoffs. All students suffer when districts cannot easily remove laggard teachers who commit educational malpractice. And for taxpayers, it isn’t only costly for the long haul — as seen in the case of California and its $56 billion teachers’ pension deficit — but even in the immediate present.

Weingarten can’t possibly defend this system on fiscal, educational or moral grounds. Her union must stop.

She should also accept that the model is also politically untenable: The string of political losses suffered by the AFT and the NEA in the education policy arena over the past few years — most-recently in Wisconsin with the unsuccessful recall votes against six members of the state senate’s Republican majority — are clear signs that no matter how much money the two unions spend, voters aren’t exactly buying their message that traditional public education works and deserves to remain as is.

With states facing $137 billion in budget shortfalls this and the coming fiscal years, governors and legislators can no longer afford to protect school spending from the axe. Given that the cost of the nearly-free healthcare benefits and other perks of teaching have increased by 21 percent within a six-year period — and the $1.4 trillion in pension deficits and unfunded retiree healthcare costs — governors, legislators and the public realize they must restrain future increases. School reformers have also revealed the laggard quality of teaching and curricula in traditional schools and the results in the form of 150 teens dropping out every hour, has shown taxpayers that the nation spends $593 billion on education abysmally; Harvard’s recent report showing that even the nation’s best students lag behind the rest of the world (while our poorest children are falling further behind), is more evidence that American public education as is no longer works. And when teachers’ unions protest about layoffs in an age in which nearly every American is affected by the possibility of reductions in force (and salaries), there is no sympathy to be found for their cause.

Weingarten needs to offer a model of education that is cost-effective, leads to closing achievement gaps, and helps all children succeed in school and in life. What the AFT currently offers isn’t good enough.

Weingarten must publicly abandon the AFT’s internal rhetoric that vouchers, charter schools and Parent Trigger laws are “threats” to American public education: For all the non-apologizing apologizing she has done since Dropout Nation‘s revelations earlier this month about the anti-Parent Trigger presentation at its TEACH 2011 conference, the fact that the union has consistently denigrated school choice and Parent Power efforts, both at its own conferences and in the unsuccessful lawsuit in New York City to prevent charter schools from sharing space with traditional public counterparts, pretty much speaks for itself. In the process, the AFT has essentially made clear that it thinks that families should be barely seen and not heard at the education decision-making table — and no amount of apologizing will help unless stronger action is taken.

What Weingarten needs to do is not just publicly proclaim that messaging to be tossed into the ashbin of the union’s history, but to go further and publicly accept that school choice and Parent Power are critical elements of overhauling an American public education system that has treated families as nuisances and afterthoughts for far too long. The AFT must also end their penchant for dealing arrogantly with Parent Power groups, remembering that ultimately, parents should and must be the lead decision-makers in education.

If Weingarten just took up one of these points, she would actually be able to claim that the AFT is truly embracing reform.

By the Way: Dropout Nation will cover today’s event featuring Weingarten and Rick Hess. Follow at Twitter for the details.