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Randi Weingarten (AFT President) opened last week’s American Federation of Teachers annual convention in Boston. She gave a speech that might have been read at a Democratic National Convention, rather than an educational meeting.
“It is impossible to capture all we have been through the past two years,” Weingarten said. “A pandemic, and a plot to overturn a presidential election. Mask wars, culture wars, a war on truth, and a war in Ukraine.”
“Racism and the fear and trauma it inflicts. An extremist majority on the Supreme Court that eviscerated the Constitution’s separation of church and state, overturned Roe, and hobbled Miranda, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the states’ ability to keep their citizens safe – all in a single month.”
What does any of this have to do with educating America’s school children?
Weingarten later asked the following question in his speech.
“Why do we feel under attack all the time? Why are some people blaming us for problems outside our control – whether caused by the pandemic, poverty, bad policies, or inadequate funding? Why are our opponents going DEFCON 1 – with sleazy lies about grooming and calling teachers pedophiles? Why are Fox News and some GOP officials spreading these conspiracies and other hateful ideas, which social media stokes and amplifies?”
She can’t possibly have this little self-awareness.
For the last two years, our national teachers’ unions have proven they are political entities first and foremost, and educating our children is an afterthought to their radical agenda.
Randi Weingarten leaned on the Centers for Disease Control to keep schools shut down longer than they needed to because teachers’ unions across the country were using the pandemic as a strike they didn’t have to call in order to extract perks and policies they wouldn’t have been able to achieve at a typical bargaining table.
Whether it was being moved to the front of the vaccine line, hazard pay, or teaching class online from a beach in Puerto Rico, many teachers’ union leaders decided there were benefits to staying out of the classroom.
Thankfully, forcing more parents to host “Zoom school” in their living rooms also brought a degree of transparency to the indoctrination the teachers’ unions have been pushing for years.
Parents didn’t like what they saw, whether it was Critical Race Theory, discussions about teachers’ sex lives, or straight-out pornography as assigned reading. Weingarten and National School Boards Association called parents racists and terrorists when they started to show up at school board meetings to voice their opinion.
We are only just beginning to see the damaging effects the prolonged school lockdowns, continued mask mandates, and social isolation the teachers’ unions inflicted on our children, but the AFT and National Education Association (NEA) both focused their national conventions this month on overturning Florida’s parental rights law, protecting the teaching of Critical Race Theory, and condemning the Supreme Court.
The NEA even discussed a proposal to change the words “mother” and “father” to “birthing parent” and “non-birthing parent,” and to impose mandatory masking and COVID vaccines in schools, while the AFT expressed support for transgender athletes in girls’ sports.
Our children are in danger of falling behind in math and reading. The NEA/AFT focus on divisional politics, which has nothing to do the getting them back on track.
Teachers feel attacked, so it shouldn’t surprise.
Unfortunately, the good, honest teachers who just wanted to get back in the classroom and teach their students how to read and complete math functions have been lumped in with the progressive activists, as they’ve all been used as pawns in the union leaders’ political games.
I know this first-hand because my wife is a public school teacher and I’ve watched her agonize over the education loss of her students.
Just ahead of the AFT’s convention last week, Weingarten released an internal poll that admitted nine out of 10 teachers say schools are too politicized and 40 percent say they may leave their job in the next two years.
That’s after, during the 2020-21 school year alone, the NEA lost 60,000 members and the AFT lost 22,000 – more than two percent of both organizations’ membership. That’s the equivalent of their union affiliates in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and Philadelphia combined.
It’s important to remember that Albert Shanker, Randi Weingarten’s predecessor at AFT, famously said, “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”
Weingarten has been demonstrating that theme out in the open since March 2020 but fortunately, people are getting fed up and every teacher who resigns their membership and stops paying dues equals approximately $1,000 that won’t go into Weingarten’s progressive political coffers.
Aaron Withe serves as the Freedom Foundation’s CEO. www.FreedomFoundation.com