Teacher's union president says she is preparing to defend lawsuits involving Critical Race Theory

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The AFT’s Randi Weingarten says Critical Race Theory isn’t being taught in schools but she’s prepared to fight the state laws banning it anyway. From the Washington Post:

In her remarks, Weingarten said that critical race theory is not taught in U.S. elementary, middle and high schools. The theory is taught only in law school and in college, she said…

According to Weingarten, her organization is already “preparing for litigation [to counter these laws] as we speak” — although her spokesman, Andrew Crook, said the union has yet to identify specific targets. Weingarten said that the American Federation of Teachers, which has about 1.7 million members, has “a legal-defense fund ready to go.” Crook said this fund — specifically meant for lawsuits related to critical race theory bills — totals $2.5 million and comes in addition to the $10 million that the American Federation of Teachers makes available to fund lawsuits annually.

Naturally a story about conservatives pushing back against the leftist cultural war in public schools wouldn’t be complete without this next line:

Conservative activists have seized on images of assignments or short clips of video classes to argue that teachers are indoctrinating students with critical race theory, which they call divisive and inappropriate for schoolchildren.

Yes, that’s right. Conservatives are once again seizing. This always happens whenever they attempt to say no to something the left has decided it wants to do.

Weingarten isn’t the first union leader to stoke a backlash against the CRT backlash. The NEA held its annual meeting (virtually) over the weekend and adopted an effort to defend the teaching of CRT in schools. What’s interesting is that this newly adopted defense essentially concedes the conservative argument, i.e. that all of the things conservatives object to from anti-capitalism to teaching about white supremacy all falls under the heading of CRT:

“It is reasonable and appropriate for curriculum to be informed by academic frameworks for understanding and interpreting the impact of the past on current society, including critical race theory,” says the item.

Consistent with its defense of CRT, the NEA will also provide a study “that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society.” The implication is that these critiques are aspects of critical race theory, which in a weird way makes this an example of the activist left basically accepting the activist right’s new working definition of CRT as “all of the various cultural insanities.”

This is no small matter, given that many progressives have rested their entire defense of CRT on the idea that it’s a very narrowly defined aspect of elite law school training.

Perhaps the NEA realized it’s mistake. There’s an update on the story at Reason which reads, “Shortly after this story was published, the NEA deleted the New Business page from its website.”  Fortunately, the Internet Archive has a copy you can read here. In addition to endorsing the teaching of CRT in schools, Business Item 39 also calls for the following:

Join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on October 14—George Floyd’s birthday—as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression. Followed by one day of action that recognize and honor lives taken such as Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and others. The National Education Association shall publicize these National Days of Action to all its members, including in NEA Today.

Personally, I’m fine with giving BLM one day a year to make their case once kids are in high school. But if we’re going to invite far-left anti-police activists into schools, police leaders should get equal time in front of students. I wonder if the NEA and the AFT would endorse that suggestion.

In any case, the NEA seems to have accidentally spoken the truth in a way that undercuts the silly debate team stunt most progressives are using to sidestep the issue of CRT in schools. Now that the NEA has adopted plans to teach critical theory in public schools, can we at least drop the tiresome pretense that conservatives are objecting to a problem that doesn’t exist?