Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a Monday interview that he believes Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union, is the “most dangerous person in the world.”
In an interview with Semafor, Pompeo, who is thought to be eyeing a potential 2024 White House bid, said that education is one of the central issues that Republicans should focus on, noting his criticism of Weingarten and the current teaching curriculum in U.S. school systems.
“I tell the story often — I get asked ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?’ The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten,” Pompeo said.
“It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing,” the former top U.S. diplomat added.
“These are the things that candidates should speak to in a way that says, ‘Here’s the problem. Here’s a proposal for how to solve it. And if given the opportunity, these are the things I will go work on to try and deliver that outcome that fixes that problem,'” Pompeo concluded. “Pretty straightforward stuff.”
In a thread on Twitter, Weingarten said she didn’t know if the remarks should be considered “ridiculous or dangerous.”
“At the state department, Pompeo defended Middle East’s tyrants & undermined Ukraine. He was more focused on pleasing Trump than fighting 4 freedom, national security & democracy. To compare us to China means he must not know what his own department says,” she wrote.
“Maybe spend a minute in one of the classrooms with my members and their students and you will get a real lesson in the promise and potential of America.”
Education was one of the issues Americans cited as the most important during the 2022 midterm election cycle, as many GOP-led states implemented laws that prohibited the teaching of critical race theory — a college-level theory that posits racism underlies American institutions and public policies — or LGBTQ perspectives in classrooms.
Florida’s state legislature earlier this year passed its Parental Rights in Education bill, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The law prohibits educators in the state from talking about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary schools, and parents are able to take legal action against school districts they believe have violated it.
Weingarten, who has been AFT’s president since 2008, told USA Today in August that “extremists on the right wing” despise teachers unions and their commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every student.
“Our job is about what kids need, what communities need,” she said at the time. “Because when you’re doing that, you’re also doing what your members need.”
“But it’s never been as bad as right now — where it’s not just political, it’s cultural,” Weingarten said. “People had a different view of how to do education, but there was not this attack on people’s basic humanity. This is really new.”
— Updated Nov. 22 at 10:17 a.m.