- AFT President Randi Weingarten has taken teachers unions in a more political direction.
- Campaign contributions spiked under Weingarten by more than 400%.
- Weingarten and her union of 1.6 million are bringing politics into the classroom.
Teachers unions weren’t always making headlines nationwide. They weren’t always on the frontpage of major newspapers and websites, or scrolling continuously through our chyrons. Without trying to sound too curt —nobody cared much. We love our teachers but teachers unions weren’t news, and they certainly didn’t make news.
But now they do. And American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten is, at least in part, responsible for their rampant growth and influence. Under Weingarten, teachers unions have gone from a “better pay and conditions” outfit, to a “critical race theory and gender ideology” outfit (with most Americans none to pleased).
According to Weingarten’s AFT profile, education reform has been central to her work as president; reforms including drastic changes to teacher evaluations, sharp increases in federal funds, and expanding public school influence. Weingarten’s aggressive push for more federal involvement in public schools, has transformed the AFT into an aggressive political fundraiser.
Randi Weingarten has been the president of the AFT since 2008. On her watch, the union’s political spending has increased dramatically . According to the Government Accountability Institute’s analysis, AFT campaign contributions spiked from $3.7 million in 2008 to $20 million during the 2020 election cycle —a 440% increase in spending.
And more than 99% of this money is diverted to Democratic campaigns and political organizations, according to OpenSecrets.
…in case there was any doubt teachers unions are in bed with the Democrats.
So, we have huge sums of cash being dropped on Democratic candidates by a union of 1.6 million teachers, whose leader is aggressively and enthusiastically muscling her way into the federal arena.
What could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot actually.
By analyzing keywords used in the American Federation of Teachers yearly resolutions, a framework for a progressive agenda becomes clear; an agenda, mind you, that has a better chance than ever of becoming a reality due to the previously mentioned huge sums of cash.
In 2020, a total of thirty-four resolutions were published by the AFT, according to GAI research. There were 227 separate mentions of “elections”; 165 separate mentions of “COVID-19”; 111 mentions of “violence”; 93 mentions of “race” (excluding discussions of racial discrimination, which add a further 32 separate mentions); and 49 separate mentions of “police” and “criminal justice.” GAI’s analysis of AFT resolutions shows the most frequent topics discussed in AFT resolutions in 2020 and 2021 were COVID-19, elections, race, violence, and criminal justice, followed by education.
That’s a lot of topics BEFORE education.
Weingarten’s focus on promoting politically charged curricula often brings teachers and parents into conflict. It may even have cost Democratic candidates in critical elections.
In Virginia’s gubernatorial election in 2021, many analysts attributed the victory of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, a political newcomer, over Democrat Terry McAuliffe to the divisive and sometimes dishonest messaging Weingarten and other teachers union leaders pushed. After months of denying on Twitter her role in keeping the schools closed and denigrating the role of parents in the classroom, her public stumping for Terry McAuliffe may have been the last straw for frustrated Virginia parents.
(Who can forget McAuliffe saying, during a debate, that parents shouldn’t be involved in the classroom at all. Unforced error there, Terry. Election ender.)
And so, Randi Weingarten marches on, diligently filling the coffers of Democratic candidates, continuing her push into the room where it happens.
There’s just one problem: most parents don’t want her in there.