Teachers Union Tells Members to Treat Complaining Parents as Enemies: Report

By Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
contributor
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.
October 21, 2021 Updated: October 26, 2021

Parents opposed to critical race theory-based indoctrination in public schools should be treated as adversaries, teachers in Washington state have been told by their labor union.

Critical race theory (CRT) holds, among other things, that white people are inherently racist and calls for engaging in racial discrimination in the name of combating it. Leftists claim that CRT promotes racial equality by highlighting the harm they claim white people have done to society.

An Oct. 19 report by the Olympia, Washington-based Freedom Foundation states that the largest union in the state, the Washington Education Association (WEA), representing 100,000 teachers and support staff in Washington’s K–12 system, is “one of the biggest forces for transforming taxpayer-funded government schools into indoctrination and recruitment centers for leftist activism.”

WEA is affiliated with the National Education Association (NEA), the largest U.S. teachers union with a membership of 3 million. The Freedom Foundation previously documented how NEA, which claims that structural racism is part of the U.S. experience and favors radical causes such as defunding the police and reparations for descendants of slaves, strongly supports CRT “as a way to advance a far-left political agenda under the guise of fighting racism.”

The new report, by Maxford Nelsen, the Freedom Foundation’s director of labor policy, finds that WEA is just as steeped in the neo-Marxist CRT ideology as the NEA is.

Epoch Times Photo
Maxford Nelsen, Director of Labor Policy, Freedom Foundation (photo courtesy of Maxford Nelsen)

The WEA “just completely bought into and is advocating for this toxic ideology of critical race theory in our public schools,” Nelsen told The Epoch Times.

CRT itself, “in its purest form, is absolutely antithetical to American ideals,” he said.

Critical race theory teaches that “we are all defined by our racial identity, and that that dominates all other aspects of our lives,” according to Nelsen.

“And so, based on your racial identity, you are either an oppressor or you are being oppressed,” he said.

According to Nelson, unions such as WEA and NEA are “essentially seeking to turn back the clock and return us to the dark days, where people are defined by race.”

“And it’s all in the service of advancing their Marxist worldview and progressive agenda,” he said.

To beat back CRT, the public, families, and taxpayers “need to realize that one of the main driving forces for this toxic ideology is the teachers unions,” Nelson said.

“And their ability to push back against parent advocacy stems from the level of control that too many states have granted them over the public education system,” he said. “That is absolutely an issue that needs to be addressed and reformed.”

Moreover, teachers unions play a “fundamental role” in the “intransigence of school boards. They’re the puppet masters behind the scenes,” Nelsen said.

Much of the time, “there is no daylight between school boards and unions, because the board has often been captured and is dominated by either former union officials or current union officials, or at the very least, people who have been elected with union backing and are not willing to cross the union’s interests because they’re on the same page ideologically.”

Nelsen’s report states that in August, WEA published a guidebook for members, “Teaching Truth: Tips for Teachers in a Tumultuous Time.” WEA makes it clear in the booklet that teachers know what’s best for students and that concerned parents should be viewed as ideological opponents to be resisted and not taken seriously.

One of the more notable instances cited in the report of a Washington state teacher being dismissive of parents came in January, when Scott Wilson, former president of the Pasco Association of Educators, spurred parental outrage when he criticized a school district’s plan to begin reopening schools.

Wilson said opening schools was “supporting white privilege” and that parents supporting in-person schooling out of concern for their socially isolated children was “ignorant and another expression of white privilege.”

“Recent broad-ranging attacks on how we teach and what we teach has created confusion about how we can safely continue teaching accurate and updated curricula,” the union document advising WEA members reads.

At the same time, the document reassures teachers that they’re “protected” and “cannot be disciplined” for teaching officially “prescribed curricula,” which they have “broad leeway” to carry out, “whether that’s by choosing which books to read or by selecting which units on which to spend more or less time.” The only limit the union acknowledges is that “educators should not teach curricula that are explicitly prohibited by their administration.”

If a school district has banned the teaching of CRT, WEA members are advised to engage in spin, stressing that critical race theory is only “taught in universities and law schools,” while K–12 educators merely “teach age-appropriate lessons that help our students understand and communicate across differences and portray a holistic and accurate picture of our nation’s history.”

David Randall, research director for the National Association of Scholars, said the WEA has it all wrong.

The union “misunderstands the point at issue,” Randall told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.

“What must be barred, above all, is the application of Critical Race Theory in the classroom—which is immoral and prohibited racist behavior,” he wrote. “Parents have the right to prevent politicized teaching—and even more to prevent politicized (racist) behavior. Teachers, of course, should treat parents as their friends and their employers, and defer to their principled judgment in all matters of public concern.”

Nelsen suggested that banning instruction in CRT, an ideology that’s hard to describe with legal precision, is easier said than done.

Several states are considering legislation that attempts to ban CRT in public schools, but it’s “fundamentally difficult, though, to try and craft a legislative response … that would truly ensure that the teaching of these concepts as truths does not take place.”

“Just saying the words, ‘We banned critical race theory in the school district or the state,’ I don’t think are sufficient to prevent the concepts and the curriculum from making its way into classrooms,” Nelson said.

Besides, the WEA doesn’t care what parents think, he said.

The union has “adopted an adversarial posture towards parents and families,” Nelson said, and it “apparently has taken upon itself to twist the public education system into an indoctrination process to inculcate in these students the types of values that WEA thinks are important—families be damned.”

The Freedom Foundation report states that WEA advised its members that they “do not singlehandedly need to justify or defend the curricula” and “do not have to reply” to parental emails “asking questions about what exactly we are teaching regarding equity, anti-racism, LGBTQ inclusion, sexual health education, and more.”

WEA didn’t even admit that parents have sincere concerns about what their children are being taught, dismissing them as tools of “corporate interests” who seek to “undermine public education” by “inciting paranoia among families.”

If a teacher feels “threatened by activists,” the WEA suggests that the teacher should report the parents to school administration “and to the police,” according to Nelsen’s report.

Julie Popper, WEA’s media relations director, didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Matthew Vadum
contributor
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.