Gov. Kay Ivey announced the resignation of an education official last week after reviewing a preschool teacher manual that her office said contained "woke" ideas. A Birmingham teachers' union leader is now defending the official.
Ivey's office claimed it was made aware of the manual on Friday and sought a review of the book.
The governor accused the book of having a "woke agenda," citing suggestions in the manual that there are "larger systemic forces that perpetuate systems of White privilege" or that "the United States is built on systemic and structural racism." The manual also suggested that four-year-olds learn that "LGBTQIA+ need to hear and see messages that promote equality, dignity and worth."
Ivey asked the education official, the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) 's secretary, Barbara Cooper, to disavow the book and discontinue its use, but later asked Cooper to resign.
Birmingham Federation of Teachers president Richard Franklin told WTVM that he laughed when he saw the word "woke" and that teachers weren't even required to teach from the resource book.
"I'm really disappointed," Franklin told the news outlet. "When I saw the term 'woke,' I started laughing because—around the country—it's interesting how they're trying to turn the word "woke" saying liberals and different stuff when that's not what it's about. History is history."
He added, "It's not something that's being forced down our throats. This is the fourth edition. There was a third and second edition, so it hasn't been an issue before. Why is it an issue now?"
He also said that Ivey's push for Cooper to resign was inappropriate.
The Birmingham Federation of Teachers is the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), affiliated with the AFL-CIO. The AFT has been critical of movements to give parents more say in what their children are being taught in public K-12 schools and has even disavowed school choice efforts.
The Defense of Freedom Institute (DFI), a conservative nonprofit and critic of teachers' unions such as the AFT and the Nation Education Association (NEA), accused the AFT last year of setting a politically-driven agenda and adopting left-leaning priorities over race, gender ideology, environmental issues and abortion.
The DFI accused the AFT of pushing to allow men in women's sports and lobbying for abortion.
The AFT even passed a resolution in 2022 to "work with public pension funds, state treasurers, policymakers and advocacy organizations to promote diversity, equity and inclusion among asset managers, corporate leadership and boards of directors through engagement and shareholder activism."
Though Ivey's office released a statement about the manual, it did not release the book's title or how long it had been used.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email email@example.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.