One of the nation’s largest teachers unions vowed Tuesday to go to court to allow the teaching of critical race theory.
Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, said in a speech that she considers teaching critical race theory to be teaching “the truth.”
“Mark my words. Our union will defend any member who gets in trouble for teaching honest history. We have a legal defense fund ready to go. Teaching the truth is not radical or wrong. Distorting history and threatening educators for teaching the truth is what is truly radical and wrong,” Ms. Weingarten said at the union’s virtual professional development conference.
“Culture warriors are labeling any discussion of race, racism or discrimination as critical race theory, to try to make it toxic. They are bullying teachers and trying to stop us from teaching students accurate history. This harms students. These culture warriors want to deprive students of a robust understanding of our common history. This will put students at a disadvantage in life by knocking a big hole in their understanding of this country and the world,” she said.
Ms. Weingarten’s vow comes just days after the 3 million-member National Education Association’s representative assembly adopted as the union’s official position that it is “reasonable and appropriate” to teach the theory. Union spokeswoman Staci Maiers said the body has 8,000 delegates from across the country.
“Publicly (through existing media) convey its support for the accurate and honest teaching of social studies topics, including truthful and age-appropriate accountings of unpleasant aspects of American history, such as slavery, and the oppression and discrimination of Indigenous, Black, Brown, and other peoples of color, as well as the continued impact this history has on our current society,” the union’s official position says.
NEA President Becky Pringle also defended the teaching of critical race theory in an op-ed in USA Today last week. “We can teach about the horrors of slavery, internment and forced resettlement. We can have honest discussions about today’s injustices and the threats to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that still exist for many. We can objectively present to students the good, bad and ugly of our past so that they can build a better, brighter future. Our students need to learn about the times when this country has lived up to its promise, and when it has not,” she wrote.”
The theory, created by leftist legal academics, argues that laws and policies from the past continue to discriminate against Black people and other people of color.
Critics say it is racially divisive and presents an inaccurate view of the U.S. as a racist nation.
At least six states, including Texas, have barred teaching it.
The spreading of the theory in recent years ignited a searing debate. Conservatives condemned the Biden administration for backing the theory — including the idea that Whites are privileged due to their race. Most notably, the administration has proposed giving school districts federal grants to incorporate in K-12 curriculum. Critics like Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, also condemned its teaching in the military, saying it will create tensions between soldiers.