Weingarten claimed she did not make that comparison, according to a Fox News report.
“I never made the comparison,” she told Fox. “I said I was gobsmacked that the same language was used. I was shocked by it precisely because I don’t see today’s parents that way. I believe that parents and teachers are each other’s partners.”
Professor Seth D. Harris, host of “Power at Work Blogcast” Tuesday asked Weingarten about the current political climate surrounding American education.
Public schools have been “political lightning rods” for years on topics from public funding to racial segregation, the professor stated in the podcast episode.
He asked Weingaraten if current political battles over education were different from past controversies and sought her insight on how to address the increasing politicization of schools.
Weingarten responded that the majority of Americans are content with the state of their public schools.
The teachers union president attributed the current uproar to a “small group of extremists” capitalizing on, or amplifying, anxieties people have after COVID-19.
She criticized the “billionaire conservative class,” which she claims has historically opposed public education, citing backlash after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which deemed racial segregation unconstitutional.
Weingarten’s remarks quickly spread online, leading to significant backlash, which she believes is unwarranted. She claimed her remarks were not equating school choice and parental rights activists with segregationists.
According to National Review, Weingarten made statements at a 2017 union convention suggesting “the real pioneers of private school choice were the White politicians who resisted school integration.”
She also reportedly described school-choice programs as the “only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.”
A 2023 SPLC study drew parallels between modern parental rights and school choice movements with segregationists post the Brown v. Board ruling.
The study observed that “segregationist parents” found ways around the ruling through “school choice,” allowing them to uphold their racial biases by sending their children to private Christian academies.
Harris, in response to Weingarten’s comments, seemed to suggest conservatives challenging school policies on cultural topics were akin to “beating up on a Black kid and telling them the history they’ve learned is not right.”
Weingarten agreed that targeting disadvantaged groups was reprehensible and countered claims that conservatives genuinely care about all children.
“If you care about kids, you got to care about all kids,“ she remarked.
Corey DeAngelis, a school choice advocate and senior fellow at the American Federation for Children, criticized Weingarten’s comments as not only inaccurate but also as a sign of desperation.
“You know you’ve won the ideological battle when your opponent resorts to unfounded smears about racism,” DeAngelis declared. We’re freeing families from the clutches of the teachers unions once and for all and there’s nothing Randi Weingarten can do about it.”