Randi Weingarten: Labor leader to fight for teachers 'bullied' over critical race theory
Critical Race Theory is not being taught in public schools, according to the head of America's second-largest teacher's union, who is preparing a legal defense fund for instructors accused of teaching the controversial approach, news outlets reported on Tuesday, July 6.
Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is embroiled in one of America's most heated cultural debates. Its critics argue that it is "un-American" and imposes an unjust notion of racial authority on youngsters. Its supporters claim that it contributes to true racial equality. It's not just White Americans though, even Black Americans are calling for CRT to be removed from school curricula.
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On July 5, educators at the National Educational Association, a national-level teachers' association came together to make critical race theory almost impossible to reject from US school curriculums. Now, Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million members of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teacher's union, has vowed legal action to protect any member who "gets in trouble for teaching honest history".
I just thanked educators for their work during COVID, laid out a vision for schools to be safe & welcoming for all, lifted up literacy & civics & communality schools & pledged to support educators who are teaching honest history. Here it is #TEACH21 https://t.co/T08B0Vg0Lr— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) July 6, 2021
Who is Randi Weingarten?
Rhonda 'Randi' Weingarten, 63, is an American labor leader, attorney, and educator. Born and raised in New York in a Jewish family, developed her interest in labor unions and politics as a teenager when her mother—a teacher—went on strike. She is the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and a member of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO). She was the previous president of the United Federation of Teachers.
According to the Jewish Women's Archive, Weingarten is a lesbian and the first out homosexual head of a national labor organization in the United States. Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York's gay and lesbian synagogue, was where she and her partner belonged. Weingarten has direct teaching experience, having taught history at Clara Barton High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, from 1991 to 1997, in addition to her work as a lawyer and organizer for teacher unions.
Weingarten said that CRT is not taught in primary, middle, or high schools, and is only taught during college or graduate degrees. According to the AFT website, Weingarten has promised to fiercely protect teachers' legal rights in areas like Texas, which have enacted laws prohibiting them from teaching their pupils factual history.
“Mark my words: Our union will defend any member who gets in trouble for teaching honest history. We have a legal defense fund ready to go. Teaching the truth is not radical or wrong. Distorting history and threatening educators for teaching the truth is what is truly radical and wrong," she said in a statement.
'Culture warriors bullying teachers'
She added that "culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as [critical race theory] to try to make it toxic". "They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history. This harms students. These culture warriors want to deprive students of a robust understanding of our common history. This will put students at a disadvantage in life by knocking a big hole in their understanding of this country and the world," she said, adding that the union has a legal defense fund "ready to go."
The Daily Mail reported that the organization is considering pursuing lawsuits against states that have passed legislation restricting how racism may be taught, and the fund includes $2.5 million to protect teachers accused of delivering the controversial lesson plan.