In my 20-plus years of writing about politics, I have never minced words about my opinion of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association: they are pure evil.
In recent years, I’ve “softened” enough to always make clear that it’s the union bosses I feel this way about. I don’t think that every teacher in America is one of Satan’s minions, but I definitely feel that way about Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelsen García, who head up the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, respectively.
On to the latest way that Ms. Weingarten has irked me.
Here’s a headline from a recent Perspective piece in The Washington Post: “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t.”
And here is the intro to the article:
In their search for issues that will deliver Congress in 2022, conservatives have begun to circle around the cause of “parents’ rights.” In Indiana, Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita recently introduced a Parents Bill of Rights, which asserts that “education policy and curriculum should accurately reflect the values of Indiana families.” In Florida, the legislature passed an even more comprehensive bill, assuring that the state and its public schools cannot infringe on the “fundamental rights” of parents. A growing number of states are allowing parents to sue districts that teach banned concepts. And in Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin has made parents’ rights a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, staging “parents matter” rallies and declaring, “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”
Given this frenzy, one might reasonably conclude that radicals are out to curtail the established rights that Americans have over the educational sphere. Yet what’s actually radical here is the assertion of parental powers that have never previously existed. This is not to say that parents should have no influence over how their children are taught.
Regarding the last line quoted there — the authors might want to reconcile that with the headline that their editor okayed.
There is enough to pick apart in the WaPo piece that I could probably do a five-column exposé on it and not get to all of it. That’s not the real purpose of this column, however. All you need to know is that the article was written by two people who co-authored a book defending public education in America and now have their knickers in a twist about conservative parents making things “political.”
Here is what caught my eye about the article:
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) October 25, 2021
Again, I can assure you that the WaPo column isn’t “great” by any stretch of the imagination. It’s boilerplate anti-Republican daddy issues fare. It does, however, come to the conclusion that society will be ruined if parents assert their rights and don’t give the state carte blanche when developing curricula for public schools. Lest you think I’m exaggerating, here’s the conclusion:
In framing our public schools as extremist organizations that undermine the prerogatives of families, conservatives are bringing napalm to the fight. That may rally the base and tilt a few elections in their favor. But as with any scorched-earth campaign, the costs of this conflict will be borne long after the fighting stops. Parents may end up with a new set of “rights” only to discover that they have lost something even more fundamental in the process. Turned against their schools and their democracy, they may wake from their conspiratorial fantasies to find a pile of rubble and a heap of ashes.
Of course, extremists never really think that they’re extremists. The entire Democratic party has lurched so far to the left that John and Bobby Kennedy would be considered right-wing nutjobs were they to come back to life.
No matter how much the Dems want to pitch things like Critical Race Theory as being mainstream, there still won’t be a lot of folks in the hinterlands buying that.
Randi Weingarten and her ilk would prefer that parental contact with their children be limited by an increasingly powerful state at an ever-earlier age. That’s why they’re pushing for universal pre-K. It’s also why the Democrats want to make sure that the only way an average American family with school-age kids can survive is if both parents have to work. This is a grand scheme that they’ve been putting in place for over half of a century.
But don’t point that out, because then you’re just being political.