American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was ripped on Wednesday for a lack of self-awareness after remarking on the negative impact school closures have had on kids in light of her union’s push for remote learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her introductions for her guests at the AFT-hosted “Social Media is Having Negative Effects on Kids and Teens,” Weingarten began by lamenting how two years of inconsistent schooling during the pandemic have negatively affected students. Parents have reported negative behavioral changes in their children, as well as the negative physical and psychological consequences they’ve endured after being isolated from their peers. May, she noted, is Mental Health Awareness Month.
“Our kids are in crisis,” she said. “And we had a mental health crisis before COVID … but for two years of disruption, two years of looking at the screens, two years of not having a normal kind of routine and rhythm, recovery is really tough.”
“It’s not a shock that a lot of kids, frankly a lot of adults, are still under tremendous stress and anxiety,” she added.
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Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers during a town hall with 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and members of the American Federation of Teachers, in Philadelphia, PA, on May 13, 2019. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Weingarten’s critics quickly jumped on her comments as hypocritical, noting how last year her union had corresponded with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lobbying for language that appeared to delay the reopening of schools. Both AFT and National Education Association, the two largest teachers unions in the U.S., received a copy of CDC guidance on a phased reopening approach for K-12 schools based on COVID cases in the area. It was discovered that the pair of unions had influenced some eleventh hour changes. Weingarten defended the correspondence at the time, saying it was “routine” for stakeholders to offer feedback to the CDC.
“No one is more responsible for the damage inflicted on America’s kids than Randi Weingarten,” Fox News contributor Karol Markowicz told Fox News Digital. “She knows this, that’s why she continues to go on a soft-focus media tour with sympathetic news outlets. She blocked the schoolhouse door for so many American kids. These consequences are largely her fault.”
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“The very policies Randi Weingarten pushed are exactly what caused so much disruption and harm to students across the country, and yet, she pretends to be completely unaware of where these ‘disruptions’ came from,” the Free to Learn Coalition, which “advocates for classrooms independent of political influence,” according to the group’s description, tweeted in response to Weingarten’s remarks.
“Our kids are in ‘crisis,’ because @RWeingarten pressured the CDC into keeping schools closed,” another group, Americans for Public Trust, said. “She deserves much of the blame.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, along with members of Congress, parents and caregiving advocates hold a press conference supporting Build Back Better investments in home care, childcare, paid leave and expanded CTC payme
( Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising Togethe)
“The arsonist pretends to be the firefighter. Disgusting,” Moms for Liberty said.
“This is peak gaslighting,” National Director of Research at the American Federation for Children Corey DeAngelis told Fox News Digital. “Teachers unions fought to keep public schools closed for over a year. At least six studies have found that school districts with stronger teachers unions were significantly less likely to reopen in person. These union-induced school closures hurt kids socially, mentally, and academically. Randi Weingarten’s union even lobbied the CDC on school reopening guidance to prolong school closures. Teachers unions constantly engaged in fearmongering and hypocrisy while private schools, daycares, and other businesses reopened.”
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Lawmakers weighed in with similar comments.
“Remind me again who wanted to keep schools closed. Oh right… teachers union boss Randi Weingarten,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted.
“Parents, pediatricians, and mental health experts have been saying this for two years,” Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., tweeted in response to the video. “What was Randi doing during that time? Lobbying the Biden Administration to keep schools closed and kids home. Her faux concern for our children now is insulting.”
Chicago Teachers Union members and supporters join a car caravan outside Chicago Public Schools (CPS) headquarters while a Chicago Board of Education meeting takes place inside in Chicago, IL on July 22, 2020.
“She personally championed long-term school closures and is now pretending to be shocked at the predictable negative consequences it created for America’s students,” Michele Perez Exner, Communications Director for House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, said.
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“She must think parents are stupid,” American Federation for Children’s DeAngelis added. “Thankfully, parents aren’t dumb and they won’t fall for Randi’s desperate attempts to rewrite history. They will never forget what happened over the past two years, the role that the union bosses played, and the damage it did to their own children.”
Cortney O’Brien is an Editor at Fox News. Twitter: @obrienc2