The debate around homeschooling in the United States has taken center stage on social media, with Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), finding herself at the heart of it. After sharing an Axios article discussing the recent surge in homeschooling, Weingarten was met with an unexpected backlash.
The article suggested that children’s specialized needs and the impact of the pandemic were behind the trend. However, Weingarten’s post became a lightning rod for criticism, with many pointing fingers at her and the AFT’s educational strategies as the real culprits.
A notable critic was evolutionary biologist Colin Wright, who took issue with the gender ideology instruction in public schools, a policy that the AFT has supported. Wright sarcastically responded to Weingarten’s question by pointing out the perceived problem: “I’ve identified the suspect. However, according to them, suspects should be able to identify themselves.”
The AFT’s partnership with First Book, an organization that disseminates gender ideology education materials to K-12 schools, was also brought up as a factor that might be driving parents to opt for homeschooling.
As the comments poured in, Jon Gabriel, editor-in-chief of conservative news site Ricochet, directly attributed the rise in homeschooling to Weingarten: “You are,” he simply replied.
Similarly, Ilya Shapiro, a constitutional expert at the Manhattan Institute, held Weingarten accountable for the growing support for school choice, commending her for inadvertently promoting educational freedom through her policies.
The conversation took a contentious turn when Phil Hollaway, a columnist for Townhall, questioned Weingarten’s decision to turn off comments on her post, implying a fear of the responses she might receive. Pastor Jesse Johnson of the Immanuel Bible Church echoed Hollaway’s sentiments, criticizing the lack of open discussion.
In a twist of irony, Young Americans for Liberty, a right-leaning organization, hailed Weingarten as one of the greatest advocates for homeschooling, considering the backlash her policies have generated, which may have boosted homeschooling.
Ginny Gentles, the director of the Independent Women’s Forum, pointed to what she saw as an anti-parent approach in school districts, a trend she attributes to union-driven policies. Moms for Liberty, too, cited parental dissatisfaction and a lack of trust in public schools as reasons behind the homeschooling boom.
Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, summed up the sentiment of many with his comment: “Can’t believe she posted this unironically. The lack of introspection continues.”