The president of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union vowed to defend educators who face backlash for teaching critical race theory, hours after denying that the ideology has entered the classroom.
"#CriticalRaceTheory is not taught in K-12 schools," American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten tweeted Tuesday. "The right’s culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as such to try to make it toxic. They’re bullying teachers to try and keep them from teaching the truth."
Later that day, Education Week published an article titled "Teachers' Unions Vow to Defend Members in Critical Race Theory Fight." In the piece, Weingarten said if any educator faces backlash for teaching about race, the union "will have their back."
Teachers' unions have largely supported schools’ embrace of critical race theory. The American Federation of Teachers has promoted critical race theory as "an irreplaceable lens" through which Americans can look at the country’s past. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers' union, this weekend adopted measures to promote critical race theory in K-12 classrooms and conduct research on "the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work."
Other members of the American Federation of Teachers' top brass have admitted that critical race theory is being taught in K-12 schools. Secretary-treasurer Fedrick Ingram said in a June interview that critical race theory gives students the opportunity to learn the "breadth and depth of the American society," from the Constitution to slavery to Jim Crow laws.
Critical race theory stems from Marxian class theory. Critics say critical race theory teaches that American systems are inherently racist and oppressive, while the left has painted critical race theory as innocuously expanding on the history of U.S. race relations.
Teachers’ unions aren’t the only groups to deny critical race theory exists in the classroom while supporting its implementation. School board members in Loudoun County, Va., denied that critical race theory is being taught in schools, but the Washington Free Beacon reported in September that the district had spent $422,500 in taxpayer dollars on an "equity" consultant that boasted an introductory course on critical race theory. The district also created a "social justice" K-12 curriculum in collaboration with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leftwing legal group.
The American Federation of Teachers has come under fire for its political positions in recent months. Two of the union’s affiliates condemned Israel after Hamas attacked the Jewish state. And emails uncovered by the New York Post in May found that the union helped push the Centers for Disease Control to keep schools closed despite scientific evidence that they could safely reopen.
Teachers’ unions overwhelmingly back Democrats and liberal groups during elections. The American Federation of Teachers donated $18.4 million from 2019-2020.