American education is failing; students are falling behind; parents express mounting frustration and teachers are leaving the profession in record breaking numbers.
And the person at the heart, and head, of this crisis is Randi Weingarten. Flush with power, money and influence, the 64-year-old has just been re-elected president of the country’s second largest teacher’s union, the American Federation of Teachers.
This is Weingarten’s eighth term leading 1.7million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers, earning $534,240, eight times the average teacher’s salary.
On her watch the union has pushed back against schools re-opening post Covid-19, flown in the face of CDC guidelines by foisting mask mandates on school districts and promoted a progressive agenda that includes the tenets of Critical Race Theory turning classrooms into frontlines in an increasingly divisive political and cultural war.
Speaking to DailyMail.com Tiffany Justice, founder of Moms for Liberty, a non-profit organization aimed at ‘organizing, educating and empowering parents,’ said of Weingarten, ‘She’s an arsonist that pretends to be a firefighter.’
AFT president Randi Weingarten’s policies are behind issues such as Critical Race Theory, outdated mask mandates and have caused teachers to quit in droves, her critics claim
White teachers have been accused of the ‘spirit murder’ of minority children, under policies boosted by union leader Randi Weingarten
School board meetings have become a magnet for controversy as parents fight back against policies backed by Weingarten and her union. This mother was removed for refusing to wear a mask in Volusia County, Florida
In truth her agenda is obvious and not just in the classroom. Scroll through Weingarten’s Twitter feed and you will find post after post espousing left-wing views on contentious matters such as the Capitol riots, Ukraine, abortion and gun violence.
Recently she tweeted her endorsement of Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler’s bid for re-election to Congress along with the assurance that her union remains ‘neutral’ and that her public endorsement is personal.
Now, an investigation by DailyMail.com has shown that any talk of union ‘neutrality’ under her leadership is laughable.
According to Justice: ‘Over and over she will say it’s political activists who are causing teachers to want to leave. That’s just nonsense. It’s the iron claw of woke projection driven by the unions.
‘The truth of the matter is that teachers’ unions have controlled the schools and the school boards for a very long time, and they can’t admit that they’re the ones on whose shoulders educational failure falls.’
A glance at the AFT’s spending under Weingarten’s leadership is enough to eradicate any notion of political or ideological neutrality.
Since she assumed leadership in 2008 the power of the union coffers has been harnessed and used almost entirely in the interests of the Democrats.
In 2008 the union spent $2.6million on campaign contributions with 10 percent of that going to Republicans.
Weingarten, 64, earns eight times the average teacher’s salary in her role as the head of the second largest teachers’ union
Weingarten was spotted in tony East Hampton, New York, where shares a home with her wife Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum
Author Ibram X. Kendi was a keynote speaker at the AFT’s 2021 convention. He also appeared on the left-leaning Late Show with Stephen Colbert last month
As the pandemic wound down in May 2021, parents and their kids rallied to support school reopening despite the AFT’s objections
This year to date the AFT has contributed $11,338,132 to candidates, parties and Super PACS and all but $75 of those funds have gone to Democrats with a further $350,000 spent on lobbying.
In 2016 Weingarten was the first union boss to endorse Hillary Clinton. The move was slammed as ‘an insult to union democracy,’ with more than 5,000 members signing a petition calling for that endorsement to be rescinded. Yet the AFT president stood firm.
Weingarten has also come under fire for the union’s support of the Democracy Alliance, a group of wealthy Democrat donors that has been criticized for the opacity of its operations.
Weingarten was first associated with the group which has been forced to deny that its work in secretly financing left-wing groups amounts to ‘dark money’ advocacy, in 2014. Back then, it was revealed that both she and her assistant had become ‘partners’ of DA to the tune of $30,000 each while the union had contributed $200,000.
Stanford University politics professor Terry Moe, author of Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America’s Public Schools, said of such spending, ‘They [unions] have millions of members and those members pay millions in dues. If you listen to them, they are spending all of it on collective bargaining. That’s not true.
‘They [just] don’t want to say they are spending a lot of it on politics.’
According to Jonathan Butcher, Will Skillman Education Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, both the AFT and the larger National Education Association (NEA) act less like bodies working for the interest of their members and more like ‘ready-made political activist groups’ fighting for causes important to the leadership.
Tiffany Justice of Moms for Liberty and Jonathan Butcher of the Heritage Foundation both told DailyMail.com that Weingarten’s agenda is harming education
Weingarten and her wife Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum bought their East Hampton home in 2000 for $454,500. It is now estimated to be worth around $2.5 million
Weingarten and her wife Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum went to the opening of the Broadway okay Indecent in 2017
‘Make no mistake, when President Joe Biden took office one of the first photo ops in the Oval Office was with Randi Weingarten and the president of the NEA and there’s a reason for that,’ Butcher told DailyMail.com,
Weingarten, Butcher said, has the ear of the president and great sway with Democrats and she has it, in large part, because of the depth of her pockets and the reach of her constituency.
The figures speak for themselves with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden among the most high-profile candidates to which the AFT has donated its millions this year along with a host of left leaning PACS.
Ironic then, that someone so heavily in bed with one political party – the AFT ranks 20th out of 24,229 Democrat donors – should have recently taken to Twitter to criticize politicians for ‘stoking culture wars…for political gain’
In a tweet slammed by many as woefully lacking in self-awareness, Weingarten posted: ‘Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents [to an AFT commissioned survey] say schools have become too politicized, following year of political attacks on teachers waged by politicians stoking culture wars and banning books.’
What Weingarten did not say was that the respondents to that same survey blamed Democrats for their divisive progressive policy and voiced confidence in parents and teachers over unions.
The AFT leader stands accused of similar obfuscation when it comes to the place of Critical Race Theory in classrooms.
The AFT and the NEA have both endorsed the controversial 1619 project for inclusion in school curriculum. The project which had its inception as a New York Times opus was hailed a ‘corrective history’ of slavery in America. But it has been fraught with criticism for ignoring facts in favor of a revisionist narrative that skews left.
Meanwhile, though Weingarten’s official stance is that Critical Race Theory is not taught in classrooms, she recently pushed back against parents who spoke out against it. Yet a myriad of reports suggests that those parents’ fears that it has seeped into classrooms are well founded.
In Buffalo, New York, students are told that ‘all white people’ perpetuate systemic racism. The Arizona Department of Education has created an ‘equity’ toolkit which claims that babies show the first signs of racism at three months old and that white children become full blown racists at five.
Randi Weingarten often mixes with Democratic politicians. Then-Senator Kamala Harris appeared with her at the AFT’s 2019 conference
Weingarten was with then-candidate Joe Biden at a town hall in Houston as part of his presidential election campaign
Weingarten was the first union boss to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2016. Clinton announced her candidacy to the Senate at the United Federation of Teachers – which Weingarten then headed – in 1999
Weingarten campaigned for progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren in 2019 as the Massachusetts senator vied for the Democratic presidential nomination
In Cupertino, California, third graders are asked to deconstruct their racial identities and rank themselves according to their ‘power and privilege.’
The principal of a school in New York City sent white parents a ‘tool for action’ which tells them they must become ‘white traitors’ and advocate for ‘white abolition.’
And in Seattle there are training sessions for teachers in which schools were deemed guilty of ‘spirit murder’ against black children.
All these notions are central to CRT as presented by radical proponents Bettina Love and Ibram X. Kendi.
In its latest handbook for a return to school post COVID the Department of Education included a link to Love’s Abolitionist Teaching Network’s Guide to Racial and Restorative Justice, a work that accuses white teachers of the ‘spirit murder’ of minority children and advocates for all white teachers to be given ‘anti-racist therapy.’
And, however much Weingarten may reject the notion that CRT is openly taught in schools, there is no escaping the fact that one of its most virulent proponents has been embraced by the AFT.
Kendi, the author of Stamped from the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America and How to Be an Antiracist, was last year booked as keynote speaker at the AFT’s convention.
His work is commonly associated with CRT and professes that systemic racism is an irredeemable stain on the country’s past that can only be rectified by present and future discrimination against the descendants of white oppressors.
Bettina Love accuses white teachers f the ‘spirit murder’ of minority children
According to Kendi equity can only be achieved by identifying and dismantling the remnants of racism in every idea and institution in American society; the only ‘cure’ to past racism is future racism.
Delegates and members to the 2021 AFT convention were invited to hear from Kendi in, ‘a free-ranging discussion with student activists and AFT members on his scholarship and on developing anti-racist mindsets and actions inside and outside the classroom.’
Daniel Buck, a middle school English teacher and Editor-in-Chief of the Chalkboard Review, told DailyMail.com that the influence of unions in classrooms is a three-tiered affair.
He explained: ‘They have influence over curriculum and ideas, over funding for politicians and electoral sway in local [school board] elections.
‘There’s more, but those are the key three ways they push their power.’
According to Buck one thing that often ‘gets lost’ in discussions of union sway is their power over school board elections.
He said: ‘Tiny numbers of people come out [to vote] in these. So, if the union can get all their members to go vote then you get a bunch of progressives on the school board.’
And with that comes instructional material and lesson plans heavily laced with progressive values.
He said: ‘Things like ‘Transformative SEL [Social and Emotional Learning].’ On the surface it’s kind of flowery language and occasionally it is just about teaching kids how to manage their emotions.
‘But more and more it’s turning schools into almost therapeutic education where SEL is about restorative justice. It’s gotten mixed up in progressive politics where it has this whole progressive view of human nature, then you get a lot of discussions about identity and race right?
‘It’s kind of injecting these ideas into the curriculum, into instructional materials and disseminating it out to teachers.
‘What it boils down to is the message that we need to be making our students activists.’
And when it comes to any criticism, Buck said: ‘It’s always the conservatives’ fault for noticing or parents’ fault for questioning.
‘So, they say we’re going to teach that gender is a complete spectrum and when conservatives stand up and ask a question, they’re they ones [the unions say] who are trying to politicize everything.
‘Or when she and her union close all the schools and parents say, ‘Can we open them up?’ well, now parents are trying to ‘politicize’ the classroom.’
Just three months ago, in April, Weingarten went on record to say that Florida’s new parental rights laws were ‘the way in which wars start.’
Daniel Buck of the Chalkboard Review (left) and Stanford University professor Terry Moe criticize the amount of money that the AFT funnels to Democratic politicians
‘The truth of the matter is that teachers’ unions have controlled the schools and the school boards for a very long time,’ said Justice. Now many of those meetings have got contentious as parents fight back
Mask mandates in schools was still an AFT policy long after policymakers had lifted such mandates elsewhere
Opposing books: Ibram X. Kendi’s says systemic racism is an irredeemable stain on the country while Terry Moe’s blames teachers’ unions for falling classroom standards
But for Buck and for Moms for Liberty founder, Justice, parental involvement is part, not of the problem but, of a potential solution.
Buck said, ‘Parents should go to school board meetings and voice their opinions. They should go to townhalls and voice their opinions especially when it comes to policy – it’s a good thing that people are getting involved.’
He described the ‘parent movement’ as ‘creating this kind of counter coalition for those small, important elections for school boards and local bureaucracies.
Justice used to sit on the School District of Indian River County School board in Florida. As far as she is concerned what students are taught shouldn’t be up to the federal government and it shouldn’t be up to the unions – it should be up to the parents.
She said, ‘We want the unions out of the decision-making process. We do not co-parent with the government.
‘The unions are intent on driving a wedge between the parent and the child so that the child can be more easily manipulated to become whatever the system wants and to my mind that is all stemming from the unions’ agenda.’
And that agenda, as far as Justice is concerned, is not representative of teacher union members’ core concerns.
Parents should go to school board meetings and voice their opinions…especially when it comes to policy – it’s a good thing that people are getting involved
This truth is reflected in the fact that union membership is down by a record number with the AFT and NEA losing 70,000 members last year alone.
Butcher pointed out, ‘It’s not as though teachers are walking in lockstep. Nor is it true that the unions represent the issues of their teachers. If they were then why are people leaving them?’
In fact, the most often cited reason for teachers leaving the profession is salary.
For her part Weingarten has no worries on that score since her total compensation last year was over half a million dollars.
It is a salary that affords her and her wife, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, a roomy $2.5 million house close to the ocean in East Hampton, New York, complete with pool and capacious grounds.
Just another example, according to Weingarten’s critics, of how removed her brand of ‘limousine liberalism’ is from the chalkboard.
Justice said:’The teachers’ unions are not representing teachers well and so we’re helping teachers find the courage to leave and giving them support to do it. We have lots of teachers becoming members of our chapters across the country.
‘We’re at a moment in America where more and more of America is seeing how broken our public education system is…and we believe that the best way to get this country on track and to reclaim public education and reform it is to elect parents and concerned community members who are going to put kids first on school boards.’
She added, ‘I’m incredibly hopeful. We just had our national summit and we had over 500 people there from chapters in 40 states. These are people who care about everybody’s kids and about drawing attention to what is going on in schools.
‘Because once you see the truth you can’t ever unsee it.’