- Teachers unions are helping school districts implement Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender identity through different initiatives such as LGBTQ badges, summer reading lists and advertisements.
- The more recent push by the unions comes from the backing of the Biden administration, whose beliefs align with the teachers unions.
- “Teachers unions are certainly embracing ‘wokeness’ and showing their true self: their actions show they don’t care about the academic success of our kids, they only care about money and furthering their own political ambitions,” Parents Defending Education Director of Community Engagement Mailyn Salabarria told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Teachers unions have a long history of political action, but now teachers unions are advocating for gender identity and Critical Race Theory (CRT) to be taught in schools. This recent push has come because of the support of the Biden administration, experts tell the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Teachers unions have been notorious for entering political races; in the 2021-2022 school year, the nation’s two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, poured millions into political funding. The belief that gender ideology and CRT should be in classrooms has long been present, but the Biden administration has empowered the beliefs to be embraced, experts told the DCNF. (RELATED: Major Teachers Union Goes On Strike, Delaying The First Day Of School For Thousands)
“I was a former school board member from 2016 and 2020 and we did not see this stuff like we’re seeing now,” Laura Zorc, director of education reform for Building Education for Students Together, a parental rights in education organization, told the DCNF. “I was not a school board member under the Biden administration. I’ve seen a radical change starting to take place in January 2021 when he took office. Underneath the school districts, you had people that had those beliefs in those feelings that we should be embracing this, but there was never that support and this is really where we see all this coming from, the Biden administration.”
As a part of a summer reading list in August, the National Education Association recommended students read “Why We Fly” by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, a book that describes two girls who kneel for the national anthem. The book explicitly talks about marijuana use and is paired with discussion questions on activism.
In September, an Ohio chapter of the National Education Association provided Hilliard City Schools in Columbus, Ohio, with LGBTQ ally badges that featured a flag with the words “I’m Here.” The badges were for educators to wear in order to show their support for the LGBTQ community.
The badges featured a QR code that took students to the National Education Association’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+ Caucus website which provides adult resources on sexual education. An Ohio parental rights in education group called the website “age-inappropriate” and said it “crosses the line.”
“The way that they’re bringing this in is through an inclusive, safe environment, you know, the mental health aspect,” Zorc told the DCNF. “‘If our kids don’t feel safe, then they’re not going to be able to learn so we have to fix that because that helps us improve the quality of academics if our kids are feeling more safe at school.’ When I look at this, it’s hard to separate. It’s not one group of LGBTQ teachers. It’s not one group that’s wanting the Critical Race Theory ideologies. It’s really coming from that Democratic teacher union leadership like these Randi Weingartens and people like that.”
Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
The New Jersey National Education Association ran an ad ahead of the 2022-2023 school year that depicted parents who speak out against gender identity and CRT as “extremists.” The ad cites two articles, one describing groups working to remove books featuring LGBTQ and CRT imagery from school libraries and the other discussing a New Jersey state senator’s bill which prohibits lessons on gender identity for kindergarten through sixth grade.
About a year ago, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to the Biden administration comparing parents at school board meetings to “domestic terrorists.” Attorney General Merrick Garland called on the FBI to “use its authority” on the parents who disrupt school board meetings and pose a threat.
“The current administration actions also show they are on board with making politics and ideologies the priority in the classrooms,” Parents Defending Education Director of Community Engagement Mailyn Salabarria told the DCNF, “instead of addressing the historically low proficiency scores of our students and the learning loss they’ll suffer for generations to come. And this has emboldened teachers unions and activist teachers to push for even more ideology instead of the basics of academic instruction.”
Ahead of the 2022-2023 school year, the Department of Education (DOE) called for action to address a nationwide teacher shortage. The DOE announced partnerships with schools across the country to address the problem they say was brought on during the pandemic.
“They’re saying that we have a teacher shortage,” Zorc told the DCNF. “We do not have a teacher shortage. Teachers are moving to other environments where they’re not forced to teach this stuff. So when it comes to Critical Race Theory, when it comes to this gender ideology, it is really being spearheaded from the top down. That’s why we’re seeing this massive exodus of our public school teachers, because they were waiting on retirement, but a lot of them are like, ‘I cannot even I can’t do this anymore.'”
The push from the teachers unions for CRT and gender identity curricula comes as students across the nation post record learning losses; K-12 reading levels have dropped to where they were in 1990, the largest ever drop in the scores, while math levels saw their first ever decline.
“Teachers unions are certainly embracing ‘wokeness’ and showing their true self: their actions show they don’t care about the academic success of our kids, they only care about money and furthering their own political ambitions,” Salabarria told the DCNF.
The National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers and the DOE did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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