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American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten denounced “right-wing extremists” at the New York State United Teachers Conference on Wednesday, saying public schools are “fundamental” to American education and that the Conservatives are trying to “undermine” educators.
She called out Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, saying kids won’t become critical thinkers and learn life lessons if they “get what they wanted”. She further asserted that “schools are a means of creating pluralism and diversity” and “that is why there is censorship of books and lessons, and calling educators ‘woke’.
Last month, DeSantis and DeVos gave speeches as keynote speakers at a summit hosted by a conservative parenting advocacy organization called Moms For Liberty.
The summit was a 3-day event to equip members from 30 states on how to elect more conservative school board candidates.
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At the summit, DeVos, a strong advocate for school choice, called for the Department of Education to be “abolished” to leave education decisions to state and local boards.
“These extremists are waging these culture wars, and the attacks will only get worse. This is a strategy to separate educators from parents, to create apathy and fear. These are the greatest tools they have to win.” , Weingarten said, according to REAR.
“Right-wing extremists said the path to universal vouchers was to create universal distrust. But our members stuck with the union after Janus. And people across the country understand the importance of unions. That’s why they fight these culture wars.”
Claiming that the “extremists” have implemented a strategy to “separate educators from parents by “spreading apathy and fear”, Weingarten announced an “antidote”.
“What do parents want most? They want their children to learn and be safe. That’s why we started our #ReadingOpensTheWorld program – to increase literacy and inspire children to learn by giving away 1 million pounds – and we are focusing on community schools,” says Weingarten.
Lindsey Burke, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, pushed back against Weingarten’s comments, telling Fox News Digital that there is “broad support for educational choice among parents, and a recent poll shows that Americans now trust Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to education.”
“Unions lost parents’ trust when they forced schools to close during COVID, long after it was clear children could return to school safely. And then they demanded dozens of billions of taxpayer dollars to reopen them.Families want schools that align with their values, and that’s why they’ve pushed back against radical content in schools.Governor DeSantis rightly recognized that and implemented policies to make schools more transparent and accountable to parents.
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Additionally, Weingarten spoke about addressing issues such as student debt forgiveness and a mental health and food insecurity crisis in the United States.
“Thinking of ways to meet the needs of our children, rather than endless conversations about who is ‘woke’, is what we do. This is what parents want. What we need is is that educators are respected and have the conditions that we need to teach,” Weingarten said.
A survey commissioned by Weingarten herself found that Republicans have an edge over Democrats when it comes to voter confidence in education management.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) ordered a survey from Hart Research Associates, asking, “In general, do you trust Democrats or Republicans more to address education issues?”
The survey was conducted in seven battleground states where results showed Republicans had a 39% to 38% advantage over which party voters trusted education the most.
In response to the survey results, AFT Chairman Randi Weingarten urged Democrats to step up messaging against Republican Attacks on Critical Race Theory.
The Conservatives have made significant gains across the country on the issue of education by highlighting the CRT curriculum and opposing mandates and lockdowns related to COVID-19. These issues have led to protests and school board recalls across the country.
Republican lawmakers in several states have sought to ban discussions of gender ideology and critical race theory in classrooms, especially for young college students.