Thankfully, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, can’t seem to comprehend what a millstone she and her union have become around the necks of their preferred political candidates.
The latest victims of the teachers’ unions’ kiss of death are primary election candidates in various states in just the last few weeks.
In Iowa’s June 7 primary, four incumbent Republican state representatives who opposed a school choice measure in this year’s legislative session lost their primaries to challengers who were outspoken advocates to fund students, not systems.
One of those incumbents is (soon-to-be-former) House Education Committee Chair Dustin Hite (R), who was backed by teachers’ unions and lost his seat 43 to 57 percent.
Perhaps even more surprising were the results of the Democrat primaries for Texas’ 20-member State Board of Education (SBOE). Because of inconclusive results during the March 1 primary, a run-off election had to be held on May 24 to determine the Democratic nominee in three races.
When the votes were tabulated, the losing candidate in each case was the one endorsed by the Texas AFT.
Given recent history, there’s considerable evidence to suggest AFT’s backing will prove more hindrance than help.
In Virginia’s November 2021 gubernatorial race, for example, Terry McAuliffe, the former campaign chairman for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, was so convinced the backing of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union would put him over the top that he asked Weingarten to deliver the keynote address in his final event prior to election day.
As you may recall, McAuliffe was handed a 2-percentage-point loss in a state Joe Biden had won by 10 points just a year earlier, and the previous Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, had won by nine points in 2017.
Rather than pulling him over the finish line, Weingarten’s speech might well have cost him the election. Given the voters’ outrage over the introduction of the Critical Race Theory curriculum in public school classrooms — fueled in no small measure by McAuliffe’s pronouncement that, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” — AFT’s blowhard leader had about as much business at the campaign rally as an arsonist at a five-alarm fire.
Rory Cooper, a fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics & Public Service, said the appearance conveyed the message that a “vote for Terry McAuliffe is a vote for Randy Weingarten.”
Just a few weeks earlier, in fact, Weingarten had reposted a Washington Post article titled, “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t.”
“Great piece on parents’ rights,” she tweeted.
This is the same Randi Weingarten who, in April 2021, drew accusations of anti-Semitism for trying to silence Jewish parents’ criticism of her union as “now part of the ownership class” thanks to their public school education — despite being Jewish herself.
Apparently unfazed by the Virginia debacle, Weingarten in the past year courted a lawsuit from City Journal reporter Christopher Rufo, who caught her red-handed splicing together quotes from a speech he had recently made in order to completely misrepresent his views.
Even more damning, emails were obtained this spring revealing that the AFT had been allowed by the Biden administration to rewrite the text of the Centers for Disease Control’s policy on delaying reopening of schools in response to the COVID pandemic.
Not content simply to advocate on behalf of teachers for better wages and working conditions, Weingarten has a long, toxic history of weaponizing her union and the dues of its members in order to advance a laundry list of liberal ideas — including abortion, climate change and gun rights — that have little or nothing to do with education.
And there’s no reason to expect the barrage of cringe-worthy quotes will cease anytime soon.
But if the recent election results in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa are any indication, American voters have concluded her endorsement provides a clear roadmap of how not to vote, and candidates would be wise not to answer the phone when she calls to offer it.