National teachers union leader: Ron DeSantis targets teachers with ‘demagoguing and fearmongering’
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said that many teachers 'writing their wills' in response to schools' coronavirus guidelines. Image via Getty.

weingarten
The Governor has said he's guarding against 'indoctrination' in the new laws regarding schools.

An SOS call went out for Florida schools — and Broward County schools in particular — as the President of one of the nation’s largest teachers unions Wednesday decried the state of Florida’s education under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis has smeared teachers and injected fear into the classroom, argued Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). She was in Tamarac Wednesday appearing at a news conference with local teachers’ union leaders.

“Kids want to learn and we should be rolling up our sleeves to help them … not demagoguing and fearmongering about the people who really want to do their jobs,” said Weingarten, whose organization lays claim to 1.7 million members.

DeSantis and the Republican-backed legislation have heightened teachers’ fear of being sued, she said. In particular, Weingarten cited the Stop WOKE Act, which more tightly regulates history lessons, and Parental Rights in Education Law which more tightly regulates discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The Governor has said that legislation and other laws are aimed at stopping the indoctrination happening in public schools. And one of the Governor’s staff caused an outcry when she said that anyone who opposed the “anti-grooming,” parental rights law had ulterior motives. 

That not true, Weingarten argued. Teachers go into the profession to help children learn, teach them empathy and teach them a love of books, she said.

“I’m going to stand here and talk about just how amazing my members are … in spite of the names they get called all the time,” Weingarten said. “Calling teachers pedophiles, calling teachers other names, saying they’re trying to change kids is disgusting.”

As of early August, the AFT had given Crist his largest donation in the race to date: $500,000. But Weingarten did not mention the Governor’s race at Tuesday’s event until she was asked.

The Democratic nominee for Governor, Charlie Crist, is opposing DeSantis’ bid for re-election, and he picked Karla Hernández, the leader of the Miami AFT local, as his running mate. Weingarten had high praise for Hernández.

“She knows how to bring people together and she knows how to call things out for what they are,” Weingarten said. “If they win, and I hope they do, education will be about education again, about meeting the needs of children again.”

And then her voice rose to a shout, “Not dividing people!”

Alex Lanfranconi, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said the union is the one spreading fear. He cited her recent, erroneous tweet that listed banned books in Florida.

“It is not Florida’s pro-parent policies that are discouraging teachers,” Franconi wrote in an email. “It is union-led disinformation and fear tactics that have a chilling effect on the education profession.

Weingarten praised the robotics program she had just seen at Dillard High School and the learning she saw going on there. Weingarten said the Governor’s recent action removing elected Broward County School Board members from their posts should send a strong message to voters.

DeSantis followed the recommendations of a grand jury charged with investigating the aftermath of the shooting at Parkland when he removed four current members. As part of the inquiry into the shooting, the grand jury looked at the School Board’s multiyear delay in spending an $800 million construction bond.

The grand jury found that five members had “engaged in acts of incompetence and neglect of duty” in the lackadaisical oversight of the aging facilities’ renovations.

“There’s a lot of things that we have to do to create a safe and welcoming environment for kids,” Weingarten said. “But there’s also democracy in America, where the locality makes a decision about who it wants to run a school system and who it wants to run a local School Board.”

The Governor’s Office responded to Weingarten’s comments.

“It’s inconceivable that Randi Weingarten would travel to Florida and attempt to politicize the results of the findings of an independent grand jury formed in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy,” Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for the Governor, wrote in an email. “That she would insert herself and make these statements is a slap in the face to a community who is seeking justice.”

Antonio White, an officer with the Miami-Dade local of the union, said that public education is one thing that shouldn’t be politicized — but it’s on the ballot in a big way for this election, he said.

“It has become the number one political punching bag,” he said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


31 comments

  • Tom

    September 21, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Weingarten is a piece of manure, far left Dummycrat. She offers nothing of substance, she asked the WH to have parents spied on. And the morons did so. She’s a Dem hack.

    She’s totally turned the parents against the educators and school system.

    Florida has one of the finest public school voucher systems. Minority kids are able to get a better education. Governor expanded that as a promise in last campaign.

    She and her NEA supported lawsuits vs Gov. . Matz Hernandez, Charlie’s lackey is her nea deputy. Weingarten is a joke.

    She has destroyed public education.

    Reply

    • Charlie Crist

      September 21, 2022 at 5:23 pm

      👆 Biggest piece of manure on the internet. No insight. Vote for me. I’ll sht can this weasel…

      Reply

      • Tom

        September 21, 2022 at 5:29 pm

        Corsin you degenerate piece of manure! you are scum.
        Chinese troll, soros paid for on tik toc.
        I have exposed you.
        Clueless. Anytime you pussy, let me know where.

        Reply

        • Charlie Crist

          September 21, 2022 at 5:36 pm

          Northside of Jacksonville..Lem Turner road exit. Be there at midnight…

          Reply

          • Jay Smif

            September 26, 2022 at 2:09 pm

            He never showed up, did he? Tom is such a massive pussy.

        • Avy115

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  • tom palmer

    September 21, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Weingarten didn’t mention the grand jury report. It is just another attempt by DeSantis allies to change the subject.

    Reply

  • Modela

    September 21, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    The community seeking justice wants GUN LAW REFORM, not a performative, politically-motivated firing of elected officials by an aspiring dictator. People better wake the hell up and realize that they’re not immune to this creeping authoritarianism…unless you’re extremely wealthy and willing to pay for your freedom.

    Reply

  • Tom

    September 21, 2022 at 5:24 pm

    No one is changing the subject you moron Palmer!
    Modela, you and your party are the fascists.
    Shut the hell up!
    Weingarten is trash, garbage.
    She and Fauci destroyed public education you idiots.
    Minorities education levels nationally collapsed, whites dropped off.
    Once again the Dems destroy blue collar, minorities and, middle class.
    Kids Suicides exploded thanks to Randy, and Fauci.
    You both are clueless.

    Reply

    • Charlie Crist

      September 21, 2022 at 5:38 pm

      👆 Vote for me. I’ll teach this guy proper English composition… before I kick him up the ass.

      Reply

      • Tom

        September 21, 2022 at 6:15 pm

        You couldn’t kick your momma! Let alone the dog.
        Busted your balls you chinese troll.
        You don’t live in Florida.
        Facts are funny things to you, as you are clueless.
        Go screw your momma you incest bastard!

        Reply

        • Charlie Crist

          September 21, 2022 at 6:33 pm

          You are the one always talking about incest and sex etc. You pervert.. probably sex offender. I call the FBI..

          Reply

          • Tom

            September 21, 2022 at 6:52 pm

            Degenerates for corsin, Charlie.

  • PeterH

    September 21, 2022 at 5:31 pm

    Why is Florida responding to the teacher shortage by lowering professional standards in the classroom? Why is Florida hiring college dropouts with two years of college to fill vacancies? Florida has about 9,000 vacant teaching positions in schools across the state, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Education.

    While Florida has paid lip service to increase starting salaries, the state ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to average teacher salaries, according to an April report by the National Education Association. The teaching environment here is also worsening, as DeSantis and other Republicans have made grade schools and universities the latest battle grounds in partisan culture wars. Qualified teachers are professionals and certainly don’t want to be looking over their shoulder for the next unhappy legislator or parent ready to sue for financial gain.

     If Americans want women to control their own bodies, qualified teachers to replace DeSantis’s culture wars in classrooms, intelligent teacher-student conversations concerning the social issues facing Americans in the 21st century, non-bullying discussion about classroom students who are different, common sense gun regulations, and a new honest approach on how best to address climate change……

    AMERICANS MUST VOTE ALL REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE.

    REPUBLICANS ARE AMERICA’S PROBLEM.

    Reply

    • Peg

      September 22, 2022 at 5:47 pm

      Ranks 48th in teachers salaries? No state should be 48th, 49th, etc. swamp democrats and swamp republicans are the problem.

      Reply

  • Tom

    September 21, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    You are full of manure!
    In past 3 years, two raises for Florida educators with bonuses. Shut the hell up with your lies.

    15 weeks for abortion is not unreasonable.
    2 Doctors permission after is reasonable.
    Stop the lies again.

    They have much less than 9000 now after hires.
    20 states have higher vacancy’s. Covid mandated shots by Biden forced them out.

    You are a lying demagogue, repeating the same lies as if you have Alzheimer’s. My God you soros morons are brain dead.

    DeSantis saved Florida, with every reasonable metric.

    U. S. unemployment went up, 3.7%.
    Florida’s is 2.7, 25 months of growth you moron.
    7.8% wage growth.

    You are just a towel boy lackey!

    Reply

    • Joe Corsin

      September 21, 2022 at 8:13 pm

      DeSantis vote buying law enforcement and teachers with bonuses plus civil rights violations on immigrants = he should be arrested.

      Reply

      • Tom

        September 21, 2022 at 10:00 pm

        Chinese troll, Joe corsin. Well established. Soros group caught on tic tok.

        Reply

      • Concern Citizen

        September 26, 2022 at 10:20 am

        The money for law enforcement and teachers came from the Biden administration. Typically of many republican legislators —they vote against the bill but take credit for its success.

        Reply

  • Impeach Biden

    September 21, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    Randi Weingarten is a clown. Of course it’s the same cast of characters that come to her defense. The same people that voted for the most incompetent US President in history. The same people that will continue to vote for the Squad, Warren, Schumer, Hirono, Lightfoot, Bowser, Hampton, Schiff, Feinstein, Waters, Newsom, Pelosi. I could go on.

    Reply

    • Elliott Offen

      September 21, 2022 at 8:11 pm

      Trump biggest clown in American history. All who backed him can no longer make judgements because now zero credibility…

      Reply

      • Impeach Biden

        September 21, 2022 at 8:16 pm

        You have nothing but Trump and abortion. That’s it. You can’t campaign on the economy. You can’t campaign on fuel prices. You can’t campaign on inflation. You can’t campaign on the southern border. You can’t campaign on city crime. You can’t campaign on the defund movement. You can’t campaign on cashless bail. Throw in the towel, the Red Storm is coming.

        Reply

        • tjb

          September 22, 2022 at 10:59 am

          According to the FBI RED States and Cities generally have a higher crime level than Blue States and Cities. Also, our elected President has stated that he is against defunding.
          Regarding inflation and gas prices — how did the Democrats cause inflation and higher gasoline prices in the majority of other industrialized countries?

          Reply

        • marylou

          September 22, 2022 at 3:16 pm

          How are Republicans planning to force oil companies to drill on their 9,000 unused leases? Shareholders are refusing to invest in drilling because their profits won’t be high enough! Inflation = RECORD CORPORATE PROFITS! That’s why you are paying so much. Will Republicans fix CORPORATE GREED, too?

          Reply

    • RonBeGone

      September 22, 2022 at 7:58 am

      “Most incompetent president in history “? No, I don’t think any of us on this side voted for Trump. You are mistaken.

      Reply

  • David in Shoreline

    September 21, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    LOL. One of the funniest articles of the year. What percentage of Floridians give two effs what Randi Weingarten thinks? 1%? Maybe….

    Reply

  • Elliott Offen

    September 21, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    The last two Republican presidents and their actions should have sunk the GOP for good…but just too many stupid people in USA… babyboomer bottleneck. After babyboomers are dead..GOP is finished. People sick of it. Enjoy what’s left of it!!!

    Reply

    • Tom

      September 21, 2022 at 10:54 pm

      LMAO, Hispanics flocking to GOP.
      Largest voting block in future.
      They detest the pro socialist Dum Dem agenda.

      Reply

      • Charlie Crist

        September 22, 2022 at 10:09 am

        👆Tom = dumb dumb far right agenda… doesn’t know his asshole from his balls.

        Reply

        • tjb

          September 22, 2022 at 11:02 am

          Tom doesn’t have a pair, just a big mouth spewing dumbass insults and division.

          Reply

          • Tom

            September 22, 2022 at 11:24 am

            Yes, as you two clowns continue with your hate!

            Thanks for making me FP legend!

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