Union Boss Randi Weingarten Ripped for Denying She Pushed Biden Administration to Keep

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten is drawing fire from many sides for her denial before a congressional subcommittee that she pressed the Biden administration to keep government schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as U.S. private and religious schools, and public schools in Europe, reopened.

CNN contributor and Kentucky parent Scott Jennings confronted Weingarten Thursday night for pushing the Biden administration to keep schools closed during the COVID crisis but claiming to the House COVID subcommittee she had always wanted to reopen schools.

“We don’t know each other,” Jennings said to Weingarten as both appeared on CNN Tonight. “But speaking on behalf of millions of American parents, I have four at home. I had to teach them at home; my wife had to teach them at home. I am stunned at what you have said this week, about your claiming to have wanted to reopen schools.”

Jennings spoke about the experiences of many parents and rebuked the union boss for claiming in her testimony she had always wanted to reopen the nation’s government schools:

I think most you’ll find that most parents believe you were the tip of the spear of school closures. There are numerous statements you made over the summer of ‘20, scaring people to death about the possibility of opening schools. And I hear no remorse whatsoever about the generational damage that’s been done to these … I have two kids with learning differences. Do you know how hard it is for them to learn at home and not in a classroom that was designed for them? And for you to sit in front of Congress and the American people and say, “Oh, I wanted to open up the whole time.” I am shocked. I’m stunned. I’m stunned, and there are millions of parents who feel the exact same way.

Weingarten responded by boasting about “helping kids” as a “schoolteacher” and a “union leader”:

So, I don’t know you, sir, and you don’t know me. But I have worked for the last 20 or 30 years helping kids every single day. I’ve been a schoolteacher, I’ve been a union leader. I knew and understood the importance of reopening schools and the importance of making sure that people were safe. And poll after poll that we did of parents, and I spent a lot of time with parents, said that they basically understood and supported that we needed to do both. I’m really sorry about your kids –

“You think parents wanted to keep the kids? You think parents support you in keeping kids?” Jennings interjected. “Why did we fail? How did Europe and the rest of the civilized world get this right and we failed?”

“The schools in Europe that opened sooner than we did, and most of them did, had the mitigating strategies that we were just talking about,” Weingarten responded, adding European countries “prioritized schools over commerce.”

“Right-wing press and Republicans in Congress want you to think that I tried to keep schools closed,” Weingarten tweeted afterward, posting several clips of her claiming to want to reopen schools.

“Start in April 2020 I fought to reopen schools,” she claimed. “Here’s what I actually said.”

Twitter users, however, cited numerous examples of Weingarten and the teacher unions pressing to keep schools closed.

As The Guardian reported in July 2020, Weingarten torched the Trump administration’s plan to reopen schools the following fall as “reckless,” “callous,” and “cruel.”

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic tweeted Thursday that Weingarten “claims that AFT fought to reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic,” but added, “It’s hard to run from the truth,” and noted the subcommittee “has the receipts.”

The COVID subcommittee added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “accepted two recommendations from political AFT that altered their COVID-19 school reopening guidance.”

Chairman Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02) pressed Weingarten during the hearing, who responded when Wenstrup asked if she had suggested “revisions” to CDC’s reopening strategies, “What we suggested, sir, was ideas. They asked us for ideas.”

However, Americans for Public Trust (APT) uncovered documents this week showing that Weingarten had significantly more input into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) pandemic school reopening guidelines than was known in 2021.

APT tweeted Thursday as well that Weingarten claimed the Biden transition team “solicited school reopening advice directly from the union.”

But records shared by APT with The New York Post showed that Weingarten “spoke twice by phone with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in the week leading up to the Feb. 12, 2021, announcement that halted full re-opening of in-person classes — including the day before the guidance was released,” The Post said.

“Randi Weingarten colluded with the Biden administration to put politics over science, threatening the wellbeing of children,” APT Executive Director Caitlin Sutherland told The Post. “Her multiple calls, emails, and non-scientific recommendations to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and her team illustrate the level of dark money influence that was allowed to shape school reopening policies.”

Physician and epidemiologist Dr. Tracy Høeg took to Twitter Wednesday to point out Weingarten presented “incorrect” information during her congressional testimony that afternoon about a study Høeg conducted.

“Today in her congressional testimony @rweingarten mentioned our Wisconsin study in @CDCMMWR multiple times as evidence schools needed ‘layered mitigation’ to reopen,” Høeg stated.

“She also mentioned me in her written testimony,” she said. “This statement & her interpretation of our study are incorrect.”

“Randi Weingarten is nothing if not predictable,” said Aaron Withe, CEO of the Freedom Foundation, observing that the union boss blamed the Trump administration for not presenting a national plan to reopen schools, all the while she “dodged questions about why her own union’s guidance to the CDC focused only on when schools could be shut back down, rather than how to get them back up and running.”

Withe posed:

Perhaps Ms. Weingarten can explain why the states and school districts that stayed closed the longest are run by state and local officials whose campaigns were bankrolled by teachers’ unions, while the state and officials who got their kids back in class were free to do so because they aren’t tied to teachers’ union campaign cash?

The Freedom Foundation leader observed how greater parental involvement in local school board policies appears to have changed Weingarten’s message.

“The fact is, Randi Weingarten didn’t start talking like a champion of opening schools until she lost control of a lot of school boards across the country in 2020 and 2021,” he said. “After Randi Weingarten…

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