In the beginning, teachers unions were supposed to be only concerned with teachers’ salaries and working conditions. But that was a long time ago. Today, emboldened by the current president and first lady in the White House, they’ve become propaganda machines for left wing progressives. The losers in this battle of ideologues, if the unions prevail, will be our children.
This past week, both the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA) and the second largest, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) both declared their solidarity with progressives promoting critical race theory (CRT) in our schools. The NEA held its annual meeting last week and the measures approved by delegates deserve closer scrutiny. One calls for the union to support and lead campaigns that “result in increasing the implementation of culturally responsive education, critical race theory, and ethnic studies curriculum in pre-K thru 12th grade and higher education.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board defines CRT as “a neo-Marxist ideology that is pervasive in higher education and teaches that a person is defined above all else by race, gender and sexual orientation, and that American institutions are designed to ensure white supremacy and “the patriarchy.”
The NEA delegates also directed the organization to lobby for “professional development around cultural responsiveness, implicit bias, anti-racism, trauma-informed practices, restorative justice practices and other racial justice trainings” for “all school employees.” The delegates called for similar training for students. In other words, teaching second-graders how to distrust kids with different skin colors.
Another approved statement asks the union to “join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project” to hold a rally on George Floyd’s birthday, honor other victims of police violence, and promote “a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.” Howard Zinn is a deceased radical whose history of the United States is described by WSJ as “one long tale of the people versus the oppressors in power.”
Making it abundantly clear whose side they are on, the teachers unions claim that parents who oppose any of this are motivated by hate and are assaulting free speech. In a speech Tuesday, AFT President Randi Weingarten claimed that “’culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as CRT to try to make it toxic” and “bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history.” She likened the backlash to historical revisionism in the Soviet Union and other repressive regimes.
The WSJ says, “But no one is opposed to teaching about America’s difficult racial history, including the evils of slavery and Jim Crow. What parents are awakening to is that their children are being told the lie that America has made little or no racial progress and therefore its legal, economic and political systems must be turned upside down.”
Clearly this response from the teachers unions is in reaction to wide-spread parental dismay with school boards, including those in Loudon County, Virginia, where five families sued last month over school district policies and practices that are rooted in CRT. The families claim that administrators chilled speech and discriminated against nonminority students. The WSJ says the unions are upset because such parental pushback threatens their control over instruction in schools.
Recently I wrote of the progress School Choice is making in many states (School Choice Progress Continues) as more and more parents push for the freedom to choose where their children are educated. With this doubling down by the teachers unions on the issue of CRT, it looks like a banner year for private, parochial, and charter schools!