Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe accepted $25,000 from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) last month, Federal Election Commission records show. AFT spend the last year lobbying to keep schools close and discussing how to introduce historically inaccurate curriculum into classrooms across the country.
McAuliffe, who previously served as governor of the Commonwealth from 2014-2018, is considered the frontrunner in a crowded field of candidates seeking the Democrat nomination to take on Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin in November.
As the Washington Free Beacon reported, AFT made the donation just days before the union president, Randi Weingarten, praised the historically inaccurate New York Times 1619 Project as a “factual version of oppression in America’ targeted by ‘people who have no idea what [critical race theory] means.”
Weingarten previously said she has “not arrived” at the conclusion that the 1619 Project is historically inaccurate, despite the paper having to issue a correction and admit their lead essayist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, made a substantial error when she claimed protecting slavery was a primary motivation for the American Revolution. A number of well-respected historians dispute the project as “a very unbalanced, one-sided account” and “wrong in so many ways.”
In February, the union partnered with the Pulitzer Center and Hannah-Jones to host “an entire curriculum” based on the project, which Weingarten hopes will allow the country to “see its history in all of its manifestations.”
“We are trying to get these invaluable and nuanced lesson plans about the 1619 Project directly to educators when they need it most, to help them tackle these conversations,” she said. “Our hope is that through this partnership with the Pulitzer Center, we can help further honest conversations around our country’s history and inform our present and hopefully our future in our classrooms, in our communities, and in our organizations.”
Throughout the pandemic, Weingarten and the ATF lobbied the White House and the CDC to keep schools closed and children at home. Weingarten even said she supported teacher strikes if schools opened without the right measures in place.
McAuliffe was largely silent on reopening Virginia schools until Weingarten delivered a speech in May suddenly in favor of in-person learning, just in time for summer break. Less than two weeks later, McAuliffe decided to offer “tacit support” for reopening schools and “called for $2 billion in spending to ‘raise teacher pay and address inequities head on.’”
The primary election for the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nomination is set to take place on June 8.