The nation’s largest teachers unions have set their sights on battling so-called ‘racist’ and ‘homophobic’ education initiatives as students have fallen behind academically during the pandemic and struggle to make up lost ground.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that students in the United States have shown ‘slower than average growth in math and reading’ compared to before the pandemic and that learning gaps ‘may be widening’ despite billions of federal dollars going towards the problem.
‘We are actually seeing evidence of backsliding,’ NWEA’s Center for School and Student Progress director Karyn Lewis told the publication.
But as students nationwide grapple with the pandemic-induced learning loss, the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are focusing on Republican education initiatives they say target the likes of LGBTQ+ students.
NEA president Becky Pringle zeroed in on the issue last week while addressing the union’s representative assembly in Orlando, Florida.
During the speech, Pringle said the Sunshine State is ‘our ground zero for shameful, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic rhetoric and dangerous actions,’ and that is why NEA leaders met there, according to their website.
‘We have come here because our children are here. We have come here because our colleagues are here,’ Pringle said. ‘We have come here because educators, students, and their communities are being attacked by laws that threaten their safety, question their humanity, and block their access to every basic right that defines the word freedom. Right here in Florida, we will preserve and strengthen a democracy that was steeped in the power of ‘We the People.”
Pringle’s prepared remarks did not mention students’ learning loss stemming from the pandemic, according to her speech transcript. The NEA did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.
The AFT, meanwhile, has recently joined forces with a left-wing dark money group initially formed to push back against opponents of critical race theory in K-12 schools.
The union teamed up with Campaign for Our Shared Future, a so-called ‘nonpartisan’ group founded to combat a wave of ‘culture wars attacks’ on communities, children, and the K-12 system, for an initiative to provide aid to educators they say are under attack from Republicans across the country.
‘Attacks on public education in America by extremists and culture-war peddling politicians have reached new heights (‘lows’ may be more apt), but they are not new,’ AFT President Randi Weingarten wrote on the union’s website in April. ‘The difference today is that the attacks are intended not just to undermine public education but to destroy it.’
‘From book bans and censorship of honest history to the removal and rejection of Black, LGBTQIA+ and minority students’ existence and experiences, MAGA lawmakers have used culture wars to divide communities and enact schemes that drain resources from public education,’ Weingarten said.
The Campaign for Our Shared Future announced the formation of the Educator Defense Fund earlier this year to provide assistance ranging from legal support to threat evaluations. A spokesperson for the group previously told Fox News Digital the fund is separate from the hotline, which AFT runs.
‘Schools have become a flashpoint for politicians looking to advance their agendas, and they are using scare tactics to target teachers and school staff who are focused on preparing our students for the future,’ Campaign for Our Shared Future said of its Educator Defense Fund in March.
‘These dangerous antics show radical politicians are willing to use anything to win office, including jeopardizing the safety of educators and students,’ the group added. ‘COSF is uniquely positioned to connect education professionals with rapid support in response to deeply concerning developments in the field. The Educator Defense Fund will offer our educators a helping hand to oppose these attacks.’
Campaign for Our Shared Future is part of a massive liberal dark money network. Its 501(c)(3) educational arm is fiscally sponsored by the New Venture Fund. Campaign for Our Shared Future Action Fund, its 501(c)(4) advocacy arm, falls under the Sixteen Thirty Fund.
The New Venture Fund and Sixteen Thirty Fund are nonprofit incubators providing their tax and legal status to numerous left-wing nonprofits. The groups they fiscally sponsor are exempt from providing tax records to the IRS, further shielding information such as their finances from the public.
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Fox News Digital previously reported that Campaign for Our Shared Future initially launched last summer following conservative parents flooding school board meetings in multiple states over what they said is their local schools teaching critical race theory to children, which liberals have maintained is not the case.
Weingarten’s post attacking ‘extremists’ and ‘culture-war peddlers’ did reference a speech she gave in defense of public education where she outlined a ‘four-part plan to help young people recover from learning loss.’
According to the post, her speech called for ‘a vast expansion of community schools; experiential learning for all kids, including career and technical education; the revival and restoration of the teaching profession; and deepened partnerships with parents and the community.’