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WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of one of the country’s leading teachers’ union claims that school choice is rooted in segregation and racism.

Randi Weingarten made the remarks on Thursday at the American Federation of Teachers’ conference in Washington

Weingarten charges that vouchers and for-profit charter schools “are only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.”

She adds that in the 1950s some officials in the South resisted desegregation by closing public schools and opening private ones that were only for white children. She says the term “choice” was used to cloak overt racism.

The comments have prompted criticism.

The CEO of the Center for Education Reform, Jeanne Allen, is calling for Weingarten’s resignation. She says Weingarten’s words are “a deeply offensive, highly inflammatory insult to all the parents and people.”