American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten has been dialing up the political rhetoric as children across the country get ready for another school year. Ms. Weingarten hit on just about everything at the latest union conference.
Everything, that is, except for the actual issue of educating America’s children. It seems odd for someone who claims to care so deeply for the intellectual growth of the next generation of leaders.
Not so odd for those of us parents who are used to the teacher’s unions caring more about political clout than our kids’ education. Not sure continuing to drive a wedge between parents and teachers based on political affiliation is a sustainable tactic. It motivates parents to speak out against the public education system and the unions that manipulate them.
Randi had a wide range of doozy quotes at the union conference, starting with her allegation that “Conservatives are working consistently to undermine educators in this country.” Perhaps the most confusing thing she said, however, is the following:
“They’re in the same race as we are between fear and hope, aspiration and despair, democracy and autocracy. And they’re doing this because our members worked so hard during COVID.”
Surely she isn’t trying to say that individuals such as herself have been pushing hope, aspiration, and democracy.
However, between pushing for extended school closures, literacy and mathematics rates are plummeting, and proposals to punish students for not referring to other students by their preferred pronouns, it’s hard to view the unions and school boards as the good guys in this scenario.
Thanks to an AFT poll done in May, what is convenient is that we can see who people believe is at fault for politicizing education. According to the survey, 33% believe Democrats have done more to politicize education.
As a point of reference, 28% said Republicans had politicized education more, although 36% blame both parties…which is probably pretty accurate. But does that stop Randi from blaming Republicans? Absolutely not.
Randi went so far as to pinpoint two conservatives by name in her rant against Republicans.
“If folks like DeSantis and Devos get their way, kids won’t become critical thinkers and learn the lessons of life.”
She goes on to state rather boldly:
“Schools are a way of creating pluralism and diversity. That’s why there’s censorship of books and lessons, and calling educators ‘woke.'”
I find it interesting that Randi thinks schools now and even pre-pandemic were teaching children to be critical thinkers and had learned ‘lessons of life.’ Perhaps the only good thing to come out of COVID is that parents realize that schools haven’t been educating their children to the level required to function in the world.
In 2020 a report by the Department of Education found that 54% of adults in our country lack literacy proficiency. Add two years of distance learning; the future doesn’t look bright for the next generation of adults.
Furthermore, a New York Times survey of school counselors found that overwhelmingly counselors agreed that students were ‘frozen’ socially and emotionally at the level they were before the pandemic. So could it be that being forced to isolate themselves in their homes and ‘learn’ through a screen is to blame for this social and emotional stunt?
Randi tweeted recently:
“While extremist politicians are trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers by banning books, censoring curriculum and politicizing public ed, we’re focused on investing in public schools and the essential knowledge and skills students need.”
That’s a lot to unpack. So let’s start with this supposed investing that has been happening.
COVID provided an excuse for the government to funnel billions of dollars into the public education system to bolster school safety, retain and support quality educators, and modernize the schooling system. Unfortunately, however, not a whole lot of that has been done.
Perhaps the best example of this is in New York City. Comptroller Brad Lander says the local Department of Education still has $4.4 billion in stimulus funds to spend. Additionally, allegations that some of this stimulus funding was used in states to pay for curricula with a Critical Race Theory flavor brought the ire of parents and helped spur the parental movement against indoctrination.
The first part of her tweet claiming that it’s politicians forming a wedge between parents and teachers shows that Randi and her compatriots need to take a good hard look in the mirror.
‘Shortage’ seems to be our country’s word of the year. If it isn’t baby formula, electronics, new cars, or grain, it’s now teachers that we have a shortage of.
During COVID, the public school teaching workforce shrunk by 7%, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The future is looking even bleaker, with the Rand Corporation survey done last month showing that a third of teachers and principals are likely to leave the profession in the next year or two.
If you ask Randi about the teacher shortage, she claims:
“It’s not a teacher shortage per se. It’s a shortage of respect. It’s a shortage of good conditions. It’s a shortage of pay. Because if we could fix these things, it would fix the teacher shortage.”
With so much surplus stimulus money, schools should have plenty of opportunities to improve their conditions and increase pay. But, with the departure of children from public schools at the same time, it’s going to be hard to justify any further funding for these schools.
This is the issue for groups like the AFT. Over the last two years, 1.2 million students have left the public school system.
As Ginny Gentles, the Director of Education Freedom Center at Independent Women’s Forum explains:
“Parents are flocking to alternative options, with charter school enrollment increasing by 7%, catholic school enrollment increasing by the largest amount in 50 years, and parents exploring an array of homeschooling options.”
We are one of those families that opted to keep our children from public school and instead opt for a hybrid private Christian school curriculum homeschool option. And I must say, our six-year-old can read on her own, understand how to count money and basic fractions, and she couldn’t be happier.
It’s always hard to admit when you are the problem. But unfortunately, self-reflection and accountability are not something that is done often these days.
But the reality is, Randi, it’s not us, and not conservative politicians who are the problem. It’s you.
You and groups like yours are the ones that tried to build a wedge between teachers and us. You and groups like you are the ones that have consistently undermined the role of parents in their children’s lives.
Breakups are tough, Randi. But it’s time to move on because parents like me aren’t fooled anymore, and I feel our voices will be heard come November.
Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
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