By David Brennan (Newsweek)
One of America’s largest teacher’s unions has hit out at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, accusing her of hypocrisy and failing to listen to the needs of both teachers and students.
The reaction came after DeVos criticized educators for taking industrial action and suggested such measures were unfairly undermining students’ education.
Statewide work stoppages have taken place in Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado and North Carolina during the 2018–2019 school year. Smaller actions have been launched across the country. The graph from Statista below shows the number of teaching strikes in the U.S. in recent years.
But the Department of Education has refused to cave to the industrial action. Speaking at a conference in Baltimore on Monday, DeVos said teachers should air their grievances outside of classroom hours.
“I think it’s important that adults have adult disagreements on adult time, and that they not ultimately hurt kids in the process,” DeVos said. “I think too often they’re doing so by walking out of classrooms and having arguments in the way that they are.”
But American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten dismissed DeVos’ comments. She told Newsweek, “It’s so rich when people cut budgets and make it impossible to teach until they take action at the last resort to try to actually get kids what they need. Those same people who have made it impossible then say, ‘Oh, well they shouldn’t disrupt kids.’”
The AFT—the second largest teachers’ union in the country representing some 1.7 million people—has been involved in strikes across the country. The union and its members have rallied against low wages, large class sizes and other issues.