The Nonprofit Moms for Liberty recently criticized the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) on Twitter for trying to implement more community schools, which the nonprofit said is only a power grab for the union and the federal government.
On Sunday, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Randi Weingarten published a column that featured four key priorities of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union for America’s education. The first priority listed was more community schools, which the nonprofit Moms for Liberty vehemently opposed.
A community school can be defined as “a school that seeks to integrate children into the community by selected activities other than academic and at the same time serves as a community center for recreation and adult education.”
But Moms for Liberty is concerned about the government having too much influence over families.
“‘Community schools’ give the #k12cartel more money and power,” tweeted Moms for Liberty, referring to the teachers’ union as the “K-12 Cartel.” “Say NO to ‘community schools.’ Make community centers separate and distinct from public schools.”
On the same day, Moms for Liberty hosted a Twitter space with education advocate and researcher Kelly Schenkoske called “What you need to know about ‘Community Schools.’”
Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice noted that along with teachers’ unions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advocating for community schools.
“It is a huge grab by the federal government to usurp parental rights and local control when it comes to education in America,” Justice said in the Twitter space.
Schenkoske also noted in the Twitter space that community schools are like a “nanny state” of the government, where they have control over a number of issues in the community, such as health care.
In AFT’s column, called “In Defense of Public Education,” Weingarten accused “MAGA lawmakers” and former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ “wing of the school privatization movement” that are trying to silence minority voices, censor history, and “destroy” public schools. Weingarten said these groups are pitting “parents against teachers” and waging “politicized culture wars” in schools.
“These are all steps toward their end goal of destroying public education as we know it, atomizing and balkanizing education in America, bullying the most vulnerable among us and leaving the students who have the greatest needs with the most meager resources,” Weingarten wrote. “Poll after poll has shown that parents and voters don’t want politicized culture wars, and they want public schools strengthened, not abandoned.”
Weingarten said that AFT’s priorities are meant to strengthen public education as well as assist students who suffered from learning loss.
The union’s first priority is community schools, which Weingarten said: “wrap academics, food assistance, health and dental care, mental health services and much more around public schools to transform them into hubs that connect families and students with supports they need to learn and live.” AFT wants 25,000 more community schools by 2025, which Weingarten said is doable given the millions of dollars California and the Biden administration have invested into community schools.
AFT’s other priorities include “experiential learning,” “[renewing] and [reviving] the teaching profession,” and “[deepening] the connection between parents, educators, employers and the community.” To bring about some of these changes, AFT is partnering with AFL-CIO, the federal government, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and several business groups. AFT also has a Freedom to Teach and Learn hotline, where the public can “report instances of political interference and censorship.”
“Our public schools are essential to the strength and survival of our democracy,” Weingarten said. “They shouldn’t be pawns for politicians’ ambitions or defunded and destroyed by ideologues. We are at a crossroads: Fear and division, or hope and opportunity. A great nation does not fear people being educated. A great nation does not fear pluralism. A great nation chooses freedom, democracy, equality and opportunity. All of that starts in our public schools.”
On Twitter, Moms for Liberty pointed to the idea that community schools bring in a method pushed by the CDC and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development called the “Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child,” or WSCC. Moms for Liberty noted that WSCC brings in divisive concepts like Social Emotional Learning, Critical Race Theory, and Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
“There will never be enough money to fulfill the needs of the community and the schools, who are failing at the job at hand which is to teach the children to read,” said Tiffany Justice in the Twitter space. “[The schools] cannot handle this, nor should they.”
Listen to our podcast interview with Moms for Liberty cofounders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich.