Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, spoke about conservative movements to put parents back in control of classroom dialogue in a recent interview.
Appearing on The Rick Smith Show, Weingarten blasted those who are pushing for changes to classroom structure, especially after the pandemic. Weingarten and Smith discussed recent changes in education, such as removing certain books.
Weingarten said, “Instead of everybody joining together in America to get us out of the effects of the pandemic … these right-wing ideologues are just trying to create fear and anxiety and anger exploiting the fear that parents already have in order to win elections and end public education as we know it.”
“It’s unconscionable,” she added.
The host, Rick Smith, noted that he has children and “know[s] the teachers,” going on to claim that “none of the stuff that they’re telling us happened. The stuff on CRT [Critical Race Theory] wasn’t going on, the indoctrination that they’re telling us is rampant … there’s this bogeyman that they’ve created that nobody is experiencing.”
There have been several efforts by legislators and parents to impact education. As The Daily Wire reported, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill in March, which banned classroom talk about gender identity and sexual orientation for small children.
Weingarten also appeared to reference attempts in Texas to investigate sex reassignment procedures in children, saying, “Imagine if you had a trans kid right now and you were in Texas, and you were trying to protect your kid and the Lieutenant Governor was … trying to bring you up on charges because you were protecting your kid. How is that parental rights?”
Weingarten went on, “Imagine if you’re a Jewish parent, you know, son or daughter of a Holocaust survivor,” and the district stops teaching Maus, a graphic novel about the Holocaust that was declared inappropriate by a school board in Tennessee earlier this year.
Weingarten suggested that it would be better for children to learn about genocide in a classroom setting rather than seeing genocide occurring in Ukraine on television.
Smith brought up how he has had some people tell him they don’t believe the atrocities in Ukraine are real, and Weingarten responded, “It’s this notion – we’ve been very lucky in America, and we in some ways live in a bubble for a long time. This is propaganda. This is misinformation. This is the way in which wars start. This is the way in which hatred starts.”
“This is why they go after educators,” she added. “What we are trying to do is make sure that, you know, we educate kids, we keep them safe, we keep them welcome, and we help them learn how to think — not what to think, but how to think — and have the tools so they can discern between fact and fiction.”
Weingarten claimed that approach scares “extremists who don’t want kids to know how to think, they don’t want kids to empathize with the other, with people who may be different, but that is how America gets better.”
“We are in an existential threat race against not only the effects of the pandemic but also these right-wing extremists who are trying to exploit people’s agitation for their own political purposes,” she said.
“That’s why they’re book-banning. That’s why they’re going after the teaching of racism, sexism, the Holocaust. That’s why they are trying to silence and put back into the closet people who may be gay or trans,” she added.
Earlier this week, Weingarten said in a statement to Fox News, “Educators welcome parent involvement in schools because our kids do best when teachers, parents and caregivers work together.”
“We have a lot to do to help kids recover and thrive this year after two years of an unprecedented pandemic. So rather than help us help our kids socially, academically and emotionally, these vocal minorities want to marginalize LGBTQ kids, censor teachers and ban books,” she added.
Weingarten’s pushback to the Florida bill don’t appear to align with the views of many Americans.
A recent Golden/TIPP poll was completed on April 8, and discovered that 57% of Americans agreed with the Florida bill, with only 31% saying they disagreed, per The Daily Wire reporting.