Critics blasted American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten as being unproductive in her leadership role after winning re-election for her eighth term.
"Our convention theme was ‘reclaiming our future.’ It was about lifting up our members for their incredible work, making sure they felt seen and heard, and ensuring they left Boston with the tools to put their values into action and help make their kids,' patients’ and communities’ lives better every single day," Weingarten said of AFT's biennial convention last week, where she resoundingly won re-election.
Weingarten's critics, though, have questioned her commitment to schoolchildren following a series of controversies that appeared to pit the union against parents. Daily Mail chief investigative reporter Laura Collins found this week that any talk of union "neutrality" under the AFT veteran leadership is "laughable."
"I think it would take … a pretty drastic change in priorities and a pretty drastic change in its … goals that they've set for themselves," Jonathan Butcher, Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital of the plausibility of AFT being bipartisan. "… Based on their activities, based on the positions that they've taken, neutrality is not what they're looking for, right? What they're looking for is power."
One of the ways in which unions try to exert power, he said, is by saying, "Look, we represent a sympathetic part of the workforce," adding that they try to "leverage" that sympathy.
AFT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to Weingarten's left-leaning Twitter page, in a review of the AFT's financial records the Daily Mail found that in 2008 the union spent $2.6 million on campaign contributions with only 10 percent going to Republicans. In 2022, the AFT has contributed $11,338,132 to candidates, parties and Super PACS and all but $75 of those funds have gone to Democrats.
"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," Stanford University politics professor Terry Moe, author of Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America's Public Schools, told the Daily Mail. "They [just] don't want to say they are spending a lot of it on politics."
Collins wrote it was "ironic" that Weingarten, then, recently criticized politicians for "stoking culture wars…for political gain."
"The culture wars are intended to undermine teaching and learning. Extremists are politicizing schools and attacking teachers. Attacking teachers doesn't help kids, it undermines everything," she said in another recent tweet, to which several observers accused her of "projecting."
"When the story of the past two years gets written, Randi Weingarten will be one of the central villains in the chapter about schools," Parents Defending Education Director of Outreach Erika Sanzi told Fox News Digital. "She fought to keep schools closed and children masked, prioritized politics and ideology over the basics, and sowed an unprecedented level of distrust between parents and the public education system. Her re-election does leave one wondering if even the AFT no longer believes in the institution of public schooling. How else could they extend the tenure of the person arguably most responsible for enrollment drops in cities all over the country?"
AFT faced parents' fury the past couple of years for appearing to slow walk the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AFT and the National Education Association, the two largest teachers unions in the U.S., received a copy of the guidance for a return to in-person learning before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released it to the public, emails revealed.
The correspondence, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust and provided to The New York Post, found the union offering suggestions to the CDC before the agency stopped a full re-opening of in-person classrooms. The CDC appeared to use the unions' suggestions word-for-word in more than one instance in the final text of the CDC document.