Many teachers and teachers unions in recent years have pushed left-leaning policies both in schools and in the public sphere – a phenomenon that's been highlighted by a more intense focus on schools and unions amid the coronavirus pandemic and battles over how to teach about race in schools.
The progressive push goes from individual classroom teachers all the way to the highest education officials in the land, including President Joe Biden's Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. The ideas and policies advocated range from anti-racism to single-payer health care to ending "male-centric" language.
"We need teachers behind this wave of our curriculum becoming more ‘woke,’" Cardona wrote in a 2019 email when he was the Connecticut education commissioner. Fox News obtained the email via a Freedom of Information Act request.
Cardona was discussing strategy for drafting and promoting a new class on Black and Latino studies, which will be mandatory for all Connecticut students starting in fall 2022. "Under the leadership of Secretary Cardona, the Department of Education remains committed to advancing educational equity and ensuring that we prioritize, replicate, and invest in what works for all students, not just some," a US Department of Education spokesperson said in response to Fox News revealing the email.
But the progressive lurch among educators and education officials is often just as prominent in teachers and local school officials as it is among high-profile individuals like Cardona. The teacher Cardona was advocating be on the panel to help create the Black and Latino studies curriculum, named Meghan Hatch-Geary, presents herself on Twitter as an "antiracist-focused educator." She issued a statement lauding Cardona for caring about what teachers think so they would "be on board w/ this vital initiative."
In more recent news, the New York Post reported this week that a middle school principal in Brooklyn wrote an email asking teachers to take a political stand against Israel amid the fighting between the Jewish country and the Hamas terrorist organization.
"You can take action today by protesting, attending a vigil, making a public commitment to Palestinian Liberation, signing a petition, or calling your government officials to place sanctions on Isreal (sic)," the email said, according to the Post. "The time is now to take a stand for those impacted by state-sanctioned violence and crimes against the humanity of the most vulnerable in our world."
We need teachers behind this wave of our curriculum becoming more ‘woke'
Meanwhile, a trove of public records released on Wednesday by the conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch showed that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland spent $454,000 in November on an anti-racism audit.
The goal of the audit, according to the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, which was given the money, was to "provide an opportunity to examine the district’s systems, practices, and policies that do not create access, opportunities, and equitable outcomes for every student’s academic and social emotional well-being." MCPS did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News before a story published Friday.
Also revealed last week, a Massachusetts school district barred White students from a March "Healing Space" event, according to a federal civil rights complaint filed by the group Parents Defending Education. An email included in the complaint said the event was hosted by the "[Wellesley Public Schools] Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion." It was designated for students in 6-12 grade and "faculty/staff."
"*Note: This is a safe space for our Asian/Asian-American and Students of Color, *not* for students who identify only as White," a March 2021 email read. Following the event, the school district's superintendent doubled-down on excluding certain students from some events in an email that said the district had come to "unequivocally affirm the importance of ‘affinity spaces.'" School officials did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment sent in regards to the complaint.
Teachers unions have been in the spotlight recently over the fact that in many areas around the country they blocked local governments' efforts to get students back to in-person learning.
But the unions previously often gained attention for their left-leaning politics – donating heavily to Democrats over Republicans in every election cycle since at least 1990, according to Open Secrets.
During its 2020 convention, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) bragged that it passed "a raft of bold, progressive resolutions," including some that had nothing to do with education.
One resolution backed universal health care coverage by 2025 "through single payer or private insurance with a public option."
AFT President Randi Weingarten said in 2019 that "there should be a single payer, using Medicare as a floor and not a ceiling."
Another 2020 AFT resolution on police brutality asserted that "white supremacy is systemic and institutionalized and influences the lives of everyone living in the U.S." and said that the union would make "anti-racist and anti-oppression training for all members a principal goal of the unions."
The left-leaning actions of many educators are not limited to K-12, however. Pennsylvania State University's Faculty Senate earlier this year voted to replace the words "freshman," "sophomore," "junior" and "senior," with "1st year," "2nd year," etc. … citing the "male-centric academic history" built into those terms.
The decision came as part of a Faculty Senate bill on the "Removal of Gendered & Binary Terms from Course and Program Descriptions."
"Many terms in our lexicon carry a strong, male-centric, binary character to them. Terms such as ‘freshmen’ are decidedly male-specific, while terms such as ‘upperclassmen’ can be interpreted as both sexist and classist," the Faculty Senate bill said. "Terms such as ‘junior’ and ‘senior’ are parallel to western male father-son naming conventions, and much of our written documentation uses he/she pronouns."
The university said in a statement to Fox News that the decision would be reflected in course and program descriptions, although it did not necessarily represent the Penn State administration or board of trustees, which are separate from the Faculty Senate.
"The Faculty Senate’s decision pertains only to changes to course and program descriptions, which are within the purview of the Faculty Senate," the statement said. "These changes have occurred at many universities across the nation. We understand and respect that there are different viewpoints on these matters."
Fox News' Sam Dorman and Ben Evansky contributed to this report.