Weingarten’s AFT TEACH Speech Tackles Conservative Attacks on Critical Race Theory

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten set out her union’s mission in a speech last week.

On day one of AFTS’s biennial Together Educating America’s Children (TEACH) professional development conference, Weingarten addressed the challenges union members face in 2020 and 2021 and told those in attendance that the year school 2021-22 could be more difficult.

“Educators have just gone through the most difficult second year of your professional life,” Weingarten said. “What is the most difficult year? The one that starts this fall. It won’t be easy, and some people will try to make it more difficult, such as those who denigrated educators, made our unions scapegoats, and blamed us for things beyond our control, such as school closures. schools caused by a pandemic. “

The most recent wrath of Republicans and those on the right side of the political spectrum is “critical race theory”. Conservatives have deemed the concept – devoted to telling the full story of America’s racist past and the pursuit of racist reckoning – “divisive” and have rejected and legislated its teachings from state to state. the other.

Several states have also pushed and passed laws regarding the cathode ray tube. Most notably, Texas, whose GOP-dominated state government has passed a law prescribing how teachers must teach in schools and prohibits students from getting extra credits for engaging in civic activities. involving political activism or lobbying lawmakers on particular issues.

Weingarten felt the GOP stoked public fears and said politicians’ current cultural campaign was aimed at “distorting history.”

“Culture warriors label any discussion of race, racism, or discrimination as a critical theory of race, in an attempt to make it toxic,” Weingarten said. “They intimidate the teachers and try to prevent us from teaching the students a specific story. It hurts students. These culture warriors want to deprive students of a solid understanding of our common history. It will put students at a disadvantage in life by breaking a big hole in their understanding of this country and the world. “

The five-day conference included 60 professional development sessions where educators could recover from work and respond during the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference also allowed educators and university leaders to work on solutions to strengthen the emotional and social well-being of students with teachers and to encourage collaboration. It also featured a plethora of speakers, including the First Lady, Dr Jill Biden. Fair Fight Founder Stacy Abrams, Harvard University Professor Danielle Allen, Author Ibram X. Kendi, LiberalED Founder Dena Simmons, and US Under Secretary of Education Cindy Marten were also on board.

All touched on the groups’ goals of building anti-racist communities and post-pandemic university reconstruction.

As part of this reconstruction, Weingarten called for the expansion of 25,000 integrated community schools, saying that they “not only help meet the basic needs of students and families, but have positive effects on the community. ‘attendance, grade advancement and graduation, and reduce disciplinary incidents.

She is also committed to defending the right of all teachers to teach an accurate history.

“Notice my words: our union will stand up for any member who gets into trouble for teaching an honest story,” Weingarten proclaimed. “We have a legal defense fund ready to go. Teaching the truth is neither radical nor false. Distorting history and threatening educators to teach the truth is what is really radical and wrong. “

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