Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, is an infamous proponent of teacher and political interests ahead of those of students and the underprivileged. This can be seen in her opposition to school choice, which benefits low-income families.
However, this opposition needs to be called out for what it is: a segregation policy. Weingarten is today’s equivalent of Jim Crow.
Try as she may to call her opponents racist, it’s the big teachers unions who systematically hurt minorities.
“[The] real pioneers of school choice [are] the white politicians who resisted school integration,” Weingarten said in a speech earlier this summer. School choice reforms are “polite cousins of segregation,” she claimed.
Eeducation reformer Jeanne Allen disagrees. She wrote in National Review:
“The AFT has been steadily losing members to retirement, to charter schools, to changes in state union laws, and to the fact that today’s teaching force is not your mother’s teacher. This generation wants to be free to live as they please. They are also digital natives, born amid unprecedented access to information, bypassing what used to be the only source of information about education: your union steward. This is the real reason Randi Weingarten has picked a reprehensible fight.”
While there are legitimate and understandable criticisms of school choice, such as public funding of religious schools or maintaining a separation of Church and State, opposing students and their families, especially those in the lower class, choose where to send their kids to elementary and secondary school is anything but progressive.
Those who are fortunate enough to attend or, like some Democratic legislators, send their children to private school, but are against affording underprivileged kids the opportunity to escape poor public schools: check your privilege.
That includes Randi Weingarten, who attended Clarkstown High School — a school which U.S. News & World Report ranked with a silver award as the 117th Best High School in New York State in 2017, a far departure from most schooling experiences.
“The intellectual seed of school choice was first planted in 1955 by Milton Friedman, the late Nobel Prize-winning libertarian economist never mistaken for a bigot,” National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote in the New York Post. “Friedman believed widely available vouchers would create new dynamism in a state-dominated sector characterized by stasis.”
He added, “The real-world political impetus for choice has been developing alternatives to rotten public schools for poor minority kids without other options.”
Jim Crow attempted to create a dystopia of “separate but equal.” School choice antagonists like Weingarten want to maintain this status quo; pouring more money into a failed public school system, like that of Chicago, doesn’t fix a thing.
As long as there are poor teachers and poor curriculum, no funding increase will suddenly fix the quality of a school. It’s no different than a parent continuously giving their fiscally irresponsible child money. As long as the child gets money, the dollars don’t provide a mechanism or incentive for him or her to spend nor function wisely.
Like Weingarten, even the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) opposes school choice, preferring to stick with its special interests alongside teachers’ unions to support politicians before students, despite overwhelming data which shows that black students benefit tremendously from school choice. This stance is anything but for the “advancement of colored people.” Moreover, a 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office report found that district schools are increasingly more segregated nowadays.
“In fact, six decades after the U.S. Supreme Court issued Brown v. Board of Education, our district-based public school system is still highly segregated by race,” Jason Bedrick, policy director of EdChoice, which advocates school choice nationwide, wrote in the Washington Examiner.
School choice, a policy that’s actually “progressive,” is today’s civil rights battle. Those in opposition to school choice, like Weingarten, are nothing more than regressives.