American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten on Thursday executed a whiplash-inducing 180-degree about-face on re-opening the nation’s schools to in-person classes.
After spending more than a year exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to demand workplace concessions without bothering to call a strike and to advance a radical liberal political agenda having little or nothing to do with wages, benefits or working conditions, the leader of the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union called for every school district in the U.S. to resume face-to-face learning.
“The United States will not be fully back until we are fully back in school,” Weingarten said. “And my union is all in.”
If so, it’s a recent development. One can’t help wondering what sparked this epiphany.
“Conditions have changed,” Weingarten said. “Given current circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of fully reopening our public schools this fall and keeping them open.”
Is she referring to the reality that, while Americans are still contracting the virus, the mortality rate — even for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions — is infinitesimal?
If so, that’s not exactly a revelation.
Within a very few months of the initial outbreak in March 2020, the numbers had largely flattened out and cooler heads were calling for schools to re-open completely last fall.
But at that point, Weingarten and AFT hadn’t completely maximized the political benefits that can too often accompany legitimate health concerns.
Nor were Weingarten’s allies on the political Left ready to put the pandemic behind them — not with a hotly contested presidential election slated for November.
Thus, an entire year’s worth of education was sacrificed on the altar of union opportunism.
Weingarten is finally saying the right things about re-opening the schools. But if she cared about anything but wringing every last nickel from taxpayers, she’d have come to the same conclusion at least a year earlier.
Which isn’t to say nothing has changed. In fact, the public’s perception of AFT’s membership has soured considerably throughout this ordeal, to the point where parents were rightly beginning to blame teachers and teachers’ unions for the gridlock.
Even more embarrassingly, Weingarten’s union is taking considerable flak as top Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees have called for an investigation into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after emails showed the American Federation of Teachers lobbied the agency on school reopening policies.
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., and House Education and Labor Committee ranking member Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. penned a letter to the CDC accusing the agency of putting “political obedience to Democrat-aligned special interest groups” ahead of “our nation’s youth.”
“It’s about time Randi Weingarten agreed to stop holding millions of children hostage to her lust for power and influence,” said Freedom Foundation CEO Aaron Withe. “It just would have been better if she’d come to the same conclusion in time to avoid wasting an entire year in the lives of the youngsters for whom she claims to care so deeply.”
“Millions of parents have been pleading for their children to go back to school,” continued Withe. “The Freedom Foundation has been calling for the teachers unions to stop putting politics over our childrens’ education, and even filing lawsuits against teachers’ unions and schools on behalf of desperate families.”
“Just this week, Randi Weingarten she ‘hoped’ that all students could get back to full-time, in-person education in the fall,” concluded Withe. “Finally, mounting pressure from across the country, combined with growing negative press, must have helped Randi change her mind.”