scorecardNational teachers union president says 'radicalized Supreme Court' delivered a 'gut punch' against abortion rights, separation of church and state
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National teachers union president says 'radicalized Supreme Court' delivered a 'gut punch' against abortion rights, separation of church and state

Nicole Gaudiano   

National teachers union president says 'radicalized Supreme Court' delivered a 'gut punch' against abortion rights, separation of church and state
PoliticsPolitics2 min read
  • A national teachers union president blamed a "radicalized Supreme Court" for decisions that she said don't reflect American values.
  • National Education Association President Becky Pringle said educators will continue to fight for "the right to choose" and for LGBTQ+ rights.

The head of a politically powerful, 3-million-member teachers union blamed a "radicalized Supreme Court" for decisions that she said unravel abortion rights, undermine the separation of church and state, and that do not reflect the views or values of most Americans.

National Education Association President Becky Pringle, whose union is the largest in the nation, said the stage was set in the 2016 election for Supreme Court decisions that "move us further away from the promise of America for all Americans."

She pledged to use the union's political might against candidates who refuse to keep schools safe but ask teachers to "take up arms," refuse to pay teachers as professionals, fuel inequities that undermine student learning, or work to "disinvest and destroy" public schools.

"This November, if you get in the way of our progress toward a more just nation, we will get in the way of your election," she said to applause on Sunday during the union's Representative Assembly in Chicago.

The union backed President Joe Biden in the 2020 election and counts First Lady Jill Biden, a longtime educator, as one of its members.

Pringle spoke out against Supreme Court decisions on school prayer that "attack religious freedom," vouchers "that threaten the right to a universal public education," and the recent ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, reversing federal protections for abortion, as having a "long-term, devastating impact" on fundamental freedoms.

"Like me, you knew these decisions were coming," she said. "That still didn't change the gut punch it delivered."

She said educators will continue to "fight tirelessly for the right to choose" and for the rights of LGBTQ+ students and educators.

"We will say gay. We will say trans," she said, a reference to Florida's "Parental Rights in Education," which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 "or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate."

"We will use the words that validate our students and their families; words that encourage them to walk in their authenticity; to love themselves fully to become who they are meant to be," she continued, as members applauded.

Pringle said educators will continue to teach students the nation's "true and complete history. We will teach the dynamics of our rich diversity - the triumphant moments, and those where we turned our backs on the values we espoused as our founding."

Pringle's remarks came as teachers are increasingly burned out by staffing shortages, COVID-19 battles, and political pressures, and many have been saying they're ready to quit.

National headlines in recent years have portrayed education as a battleground, with fights over face masks, controversial books, and the teaching of race and gender.

Congressional Republicans are making parental involvement in education central to their pitch to voters while several GOP-led states have imposed restrictions on the teaching of race.

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