Not Mike Pompeo, who calls the teachers union head ‘dangerous’ but has challenged her to a debate.
If former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is serious about seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2024 and about making education reform his signature issue, it’s hard to think of a better fight to pick than the one he has chosen with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
Ms. Weingarten is the face of public education in the U.S. and a dominant force in Democratic politics. The AFT, along with the National Education Association and their thousands of state and local affiliates, has for decades maintained a vise grip on the traditional public schools that educate more than 80% of K-12 students.
During the pandemic, the AFT shaped the guidelines used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the full reopening of schools. Teachers unions leveraged the Covid crisis to demand higher pay and better benefits for their members. In Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Times reported before the pandemic that only 42% of students could read at grade level and that math proficiency was only 32%, the local teachers union requested free child care for its members as a condition for returning to the classroom. Combined, the AFT and NEA spent more than $40 million to elect Democrats in 2020. Three months after taking office, President Biden repaid them by signing Covid-relief legislation that allocated $123 billion for public schools without any requirement that districts reopen for in-person instruction.
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