Teachers and teachers unions supported Hillary Clinton and like other liberals and progressives are still smarting over her defeat at the hands of President-elect Donald Trump. Teachers unions are also wrestling with the reasons why some of their members voted for Trump. Despite strong endorsements of Clinton by both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), there were substantial numbers of members voting for Trump.
Approximately one in five members of the AFT voted for Trump, according to the union’s leader. In the case of the NEA, which has 3 million members, about 1 in three voted for Trump. AFT has 1.6 million members. According to USA Today, AFT President Randi Weingarten said that sexism and timing were to blame for Clinton’s defeat. Weingarten said that the nation may not be ready to accept a woman as president and that female political figures are subjected to greater hatred than males.
Teachers are about 82% white and 76% female. They outperformed other demographic groups as to their support for Clinton.
Besides the teachers unions, Hillary Clinton was endorsed by some of the biggest names in the labor movement: International Brotherhood of Teamsters, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Despite vocal support from labor leadership, much of the rank and file members were of a different opinion. Among union households across the country, Clinton won by just eight percentage points. Exit polls show that Clinton garnered 51% to Trump’s 43%.
Clinton did persuade a bare majority among white, college-educated women: 51% to 45%. But their blue-collar sisters were less accepting of Clinton. Among white women lacking a college degree, Trump won 63% to Clinton’s 34%.
The teachers unions saw yet another defeat when Trump named school voucher advocate Betsey DeVos as his secretary of education. The state and national political directors of NEA met in Nashville last week to determine their next steps. NEA President Lilly Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement that her organization intends to “listen closely” to Trump while he offers his vision for education. “We haven’t heard any specifics from the incoming administration about education policies, so we can’t speculate further,” she said.
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