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The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) have embraced “radical social and political agendas” and ramped up funding for political causes in recent years, likely contributing to the backlash at school board meetings across the country, according to a new report.
“Teachers unions have become so intertwined with Democratic political machines that their priorities have long stopped being what’s in the best interest of the classroom and the people inside it,” Eric Eggers, vice president of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute (GAI), which published the study, told Fox News. “Instead, their political power is leveraged on behalf of radical social and political agendas, which often, and alarmingly, serve in direct opposition to the best interests of students, parents, and even the teachers themselves.”
According to the GAI report, AFT has increased its political spending 400% since 2008 – from $3.7 million to nearly $20 million in 2020, with 99 percent of those funds going to Democrats.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, along with members of Congress, parents and caregiving advocates hold a press conference supporting Build Back Better on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising Together)
The AFT published 27 resolutions in 2020 and 17 in 2021, and many of those resolutions took positions “on divisive social issues,” according to the report. Sixteen of the 34 resolutions published in 2020 (47 percent) addressed race or ethnicity, as did 8 of the 20 resolutions in 2021. These resolutions addressed issues presented by Black Lives Matter organizations, social justice, diversity, and equity. Five of the 34 resolutions in 2020 (15 percent) addressed LGBTQ+ issues, as did 3 of the 20 resolutions in 2021 (15 percent).
“The internal resolutions of the AFT show a heavy emphasis on BLM and abolishing ‘whiteness-centered curricula,’ as part of post-Covid education,” Eggers told Fox News.
Forty-two percent of the 2020 resolutions focused on elections, which expressed support for Joe Biden (4 out of 14 resolutions). Most election-focused resolutions drew “a direct or indirect connection… between the election and criticism of then-President Donald Trump” (11 out of 14 resolutions). Resolutions on the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic, while COVID-19 resolutions in 2021 only mentioned Biden twice, favorably or neutrally.
The report also notes that outgoing NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in July 2020 that the NEA’s “core business” is not “advocating for our members and negotiating contracts and your sick leave and your health care and protecting pensions,” but rather political stances such as “Here’s why we care about DACA.”
NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said teachers, mostly women, have picked up the slack by providing resources for classrooms for too long. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Rebecca Pringle, García’s successor at the NEA, oversaw the union’s endorsement of Joe Biden, along with a massive mobilization campaign to put hundreds of thousands of union members to work canvassing and knocking doors for his campaign.
According to the report, AFT and NEA donated approximately $726,200 to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), and approximately $3 million to pass through groups that then fund Black Lives Matter organizations.
The report also cites the influence of ideas derived from critical race theory (CRT) — a framework that involves deconstructing aspects of society to discover systemic racism beneath the surface. While the NEA and AFT argue that CRT has not seeped into K-12 education, the report notes that “children are being taught that American society, culture, and history is predicated on inherent, widespread, institutional racism,” and that “their own skin color and ethnicity determines where they fall in a racial hierarchy” of oppressor and oppressed.
The GAI report notes that AFT and NEA support a “Black Lives Matter at School Week,” bringing the Black Lives Matter movement to the classroom. The NEA’s social justice auxiliary, EdJustice, is a listed partner of the Black Lives Matter at School (BLMAS) organization, which enjoys endorsements from figures such as Ibram X. Kendi.
Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S. June 22, 2021. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)
The report also notes that NEA’s EdJustice website directs teachers to resources for supporting the LGBTQ+ community, including tips for virtual instruction that encourage teachers to establish “a private, virtual connection with an LGBTQ student that is not supported at home, so you can check in with them about their family dynamic and brainstorm self-care strategies.”
Eggers told Fox News that the report vindicates the concerns of parents who have spoken out about these issues at school board meetings across America.
“The report highlights ways that union-driven political agendas can create a tension between teachers and their communities that spills over into lawsuits and public shouting matches,” the GAI VP said. “Teachers unions continue to push for the expansion of teacher responsibility in the life of the child, alienating parents and making the real work of education more difficult.”
The NEA did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the report, and the AFT declined to comment.