Over the Thanksgiving holiday break, you may have heard about former Trump Administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referring to AFT President Randi Weingarten as the “most dangerous person in the world,” before adding that what educators do every day for children is “filth.” After overwhelming backlash and ridicule, Pompeo walked back his statement in a New York Post op-ed downgrading our national president to the “most dangerous person in the United States.” In the piece, Pompeo challenged Weingarten to a debate. In response, Weingarten issued the following statement:
While I’m glad that the former secretary of state no longer equates me with the heinous dictators and tyrants of the world, it would have been better if he showed some contrition for calling what public school teachers do every day to teach and uplift children, ‘filth.’
When it mattered, Pompeo never showed any interest in education issues when he was head of the State Department—unlike previous secretaries. Even his Cabinet colleague, Betsy DeVos, toured public schools with me in Ohio.
If he wants to engage in a real discussion about what children need to thrive, how to strengthen public education, or the importance of treating teachers with respect, fine with me, but I will not be a prop for Mr. Pompeo’s presidential ambitions.
President Weingarten explained her reaction and what statements like those made by Pompeo mean to teachers in an interview with MSNBC.
We, the “most aggressive” teacher group in the state of Texas, are not surprised that the strength of our union at the state and national level is indeed a threat to those like Pompeo who seek to dismantle our public schools, the foundation of our democracy, and silence the voices of teachers. Pompeo’s statements are just another example of how teachers currently feel an unprecedented amount of disrespect, which is why respect is at the center of our political and legislative work.