Parents take on top teachers' unions, their outsized influence on public education, Democratic Party

Teachers unions are facing opposition from parental rights groups who are out to strip them of their influence.

Published: July 13, 2023 12:11am

Updated: July 13, 2023 9:57am

The outsized influence of the country's two largest teachers unions on the Democratic Party and the country's public education has parents and others trying to challenge them on the national and state levels. 

The National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers are the two largest teachers unions in the country with a total of roughly 4.7 million members. With labor unions traditionally supporting Democratic candidates, their numbers and their leaders' get-out-the-vote efforts have long been key to the Democratic Party's success.  

Both groups have endorsed Democratic President Joe Biden for 2024 reelection and have joined in efforts to oppose state legislation considered anti-LGBTQ+.

Among those now fighting back is parental rights group Moms for Liberty, founded by former school board members and mothers Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich. 

The group announced a few weeks ago that it will start endorsing school board candidates at the state level and try to elect superintendents to will enact or dismantle policies – based on the best interest of students. 

However, the group will face an uphill challenge. According to a study published last year, union-backed teachers in California won 71% of their races in 2005 and 2006.

And teachers unions in the state spent at least $2.8 million on school board races in 2022, according to education news site The 74

"Our parental rights do not stop at the classroom door," Moms for Liberty's co-founders told Just the News in a joint statement. "We will partner with our child’s teacher but we do NOT coparent with the government."

"We urge teachers to leave the union and work with Parents to better meet the needs of students in classrooms," they added.

American Principles Project's founder Terry Schilling also voiced his concerns about America’s teachers unions.

"For decades now, teachers unions have had essentially a monopoly on public education," he recently told Just the News. "Parents used to believe that those unions and their school-administrator allies had the best interests of their children in mind. But all that changed during COVID, when parents got to see first-hand exactly what was being taught – and not being taught – to their kids."

Earlier this month, the Fairfax County Parents Association found through a Freedom of Information Act request that Rochelle Walensky, who was until recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, had a friendly relationship with AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Becky Pringle. 

Weingarten acknowledged having Walensky's direct phone number.

And when recently questioned by Congress about her union’s influence on the CDC's COVID-19 school lockdown procedures, particularly an ATF proposal for work-from-home options for teachers with high-risk conditions, she acknowledged the proposal was accepted by the agency.

In addition, Protect the Public's Trust Director Michael Chamberlain recently said on the "John Solomon Reports" podcast that his group found "extensive coordination" between the two main teachers unions and high-level officials in the Education Department. 

But now, "teachers unions are not at all pleased that their power is being threatened," Schilling also said.

He said parents' goals will include taking over school boards and "achieving school-choice programs, or opting out of public schools altogether."

Parents Defending Education, another pro-parent group seeking to "reclaim" schools from what they called "harmful agendas," has raised millions of dollars to achieve that end.

Alex Nester, an investigative fellow at the nonprofit, told Just The News that unions like the NEA are "wildly out of touch."

He said also cited a recent Education Week article about the NEA having voted just last week on a measure to "promote and facilitate" programs that give minors access to sex change operations.

Follow Addison on Twitter.

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