Sandra Feldman, 65, who led the American Federation of Teachers for seven years, died of cancer Sunday night at her New York City home, said Edward J. McElroy, who last year succeeded her as president of the nation’s second-largest teachers union.
Feldman was president of the 90,000-member New York local, the United Federation of Teachers, from 1986 to 1997, when she became national president of the Washington, D.C.-based parent union, which with 1.7 million members ranks behind only the National Education Assn.
As AFT president, she supported tough entrance requirements for teachers and standardized tests and opposed social promotion.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said Feldman “understood the profound importance of a good education and good teachers in unlocking the door to the American dream for disadvantaged children.”
Feldman grew up in a New York tenement and public housing.
She studied English at Brooklyn College and taught at Public School 34 in Manhattan while pursuing a master’s degree in literature at New York University.
Feldman became a field representative for the United Federation of Teachers in 1966.