American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten claimed Wednesday night that many Republican lawmakers are "bullying" teachers on "honest history" regarding race, during a livestreamed event headlined by the controversial "How to Be an Antiracist" author Ibram X Kendi.
"There are legislators, mostly from the Republican party, who are currently bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching kids honest history," Weingarten told the audience.
"Look, maybe they are just trying to raise the temperature on race relations because of the next election," she continued.
Weingarten, who leads the roughly 1.7 million-member teacher's union, has delivered remarks at multiple events this week during the AFT's TEACH Virtual Conference 2021 where she has claimed that Republicans are at odds with American teachers.
In her remarks during the opening session of the conference, she touched on how, "culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as [critical race theory] to try to make it toxic. They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history."
The rhetoric around teachers getting bullied has been a common theme during the first two days of the conference. The defensive language comes as individual states and legislators decide whether or not they support or oppose the theory being taught in schools. Earlier today, the lieutenant governor of North Carolina came out against CRT.
Currently, 26 states have introduced legislation or have taken other actions to restrict the teaching of Critical Race Theory according to Education Week. This has set the stage for a massive pushback from the AFT and the nation's largest teachers union the National Education Association.
The NEA recently passed a resolution that in part would "fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric." The same union also passed a $56,500 measure to "research the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work."
The campaign from the teacher's unions to convince the public that Critical Race Theory is a valuable teaching framework has ramped up in recent weeks. CRT and race have been important topics during the NEA's Annual Assembly last week and the TEACH conference this week.
However, despite all the pro-CRT fanfare from the AFT and the NEA, yesterday, Weingarten sought to convince critics that "Critical Race Theory is not taught in elementary schools or middle schools or high schools."
Though the teacher's unions are bolstering their support for CRT while indicating it is not a theory to be taught to school children K-12, the guest speaker of Day 2 of the TEACH 2021 Conference, Kendi, has different thoughts.
"If you're a child that's ten years old and you see that certain racial groups have more, and certain racial groups have less, you're going to be asking, ‘Why is that the case?’ And to me, it is the prudent thing to do for teachers to say … that the cause of the disparity that you see are the result of racism, are the result of bad rules, are the result of history, and we're trying to change this." Kendi said Wednesday evening.
As a guest speaker, Kendi's comments regarding teaching a ten-year-old about race seemingly contradict the AFT's messaging about not implementing CRT in K-12. Three hours after the conversation with Kendi, the event had had only 760 viewers, 33 likes, and 64 dislikes.