There are some moments that truly make you question your sanity, like this past week when Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation for Teachers, the nation’s largest teacher union, testified before Congress that she had worked fervently during the Pandemic to get schools to reopen:
“We spent every day from February on trying to get schools open. We knew that remote education was not a substitute for opening schools,” she testified. “We know that young people learn and connect best in person, so opening schools safely—even during a pandemic—guided our actions.”
Weingarten was literally the leading national voice against reopening schools for nearly two full years. In July of 2020 she threatened a strike saying, “nothing is off the table” if schools were forced to reopen. When President Trump and Secretary DeVos pushed to reopen the schools that fall, Weingarten said they were, “Reckless, callous, and cruel.” In an op-ed for USA Today in January of 2021, Weingarten continued to advocate for keeping schools closed to in-person learning, saying, “The latest COVID-19 surge is a clear cause for concern, and it must be addressed before schools reopen for in-person instruction.”
CNN’s Scott Jennings got the chance to confront Weingarten live on the air about her dishonesty and, he did not miss. Click here to watch.
The consequences of prolonged school closures on children and teens were absolutely devastating. The New York Times notes that, “Nine-year-olds [as a category] lost the equivalent of two decades of progress in math and reading, according to an authoritative national test. Fourth and eighth graders also recorded sweeping declines, particularly in math, with eighth-grade scores falling in 49 of 50 states.”
Beyond academics, mental health experts have blamed prolonged school closures for an epidemic of teen depression and suicides. The isolation and separation from school was far more detrimental to young people than the actual COVID-19 virus.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for keeping schools closed for as long as they were closed in many parts of the country, but truly, no one deserves more blame for this devastating approach than Weingarten. And for her to try to rewrite history about her role in this humanitarian disaster—while under oath no less—is pretty much the textbook definition of perjury, and she should be held accountable for her actions.
The bright spot in this whole disaster is that since the pandemic, parents are waking up and demanding change in their children’s education like we’ve not seen in my lifetime. Just since January, there has been a groundswell of states—Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina—passing landmark school choice bills giving parents the freedom to match their children with the school of their choice. Other states like North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas are moving school choice bills close to the finish line. So the legacy of Randi Weingarten’s obstinance may end in surprising fashion, being that she did more to help bring about a school choice revolution than anyone else in the country.