Betsy DeVos must be doing something right. Why else would Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, devote a speech late last week to blasting the Education Secretary for using the word “choice”—and then tying it to racism?
Sounding like Hillary Clinton in full deplorable mode, Ms. Weingarten says the movement to give parents more say over where their kids go to school has its roots in “racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia and homophobia.” Adapting the theology of the climate-change censors who seek to shut down debate, she goes on to call Mrs. DeVos a “public-school denier.”
What really frosts the AFT president is that she recognizes that the public-school monopoly her union backs is now under siege, morally and politically, for its failure to educate children, especially minority children.
It’s not that there are no excellent public schools. It’s that citizens are beginning to see that the public money the unions increasingly demand is more likely to go into pensions than the classroom. And access to excellent schools increasingly depends on a good zip code.
Ms. Weingarten tries to taint the push for choice by tracing it to attempts in some parts of the country to evade the integration demanded by Brown v. Board of Education. There’s a reason Ms. Weingarten spends most of her time on the bad old days. This is because it’s much harder to defend the academic resegregation of today.
Before last year’s anniversary of Brown, for example, the Government Accountability Office released a study showing resegregation is on the rise, with more and more of America’s poor black and Latino children in schools where they are the majority. Many of these are failing schools. Yet as she made clear in her speech, Ms. Weingarten and her union will fight to their dying breath to keep these children there rather than give them the opportunity of a better education through a charter public school or a voucher for a private or parochial school.
We hope Secretary DeVos takes away from Ms. Weingarten’s speech the message that so brittle is the teachers union monopoly that today it fears her even talking about choice.