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AFT’s Weingarten meets the facts

As public scrutiny grows, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten appears to be rewriting history in favor of the teachers’ union and herself. During a recent panel discussion, Weingarten continued to promote her narrative on AFT’s push to keep schools closed during the pandemic and was met with criticism during the panel discussion and on social media.

Here are the claims that Weingarten made:

  • “We [AFT] were pressing for schools to be open from April of 2020”
  • The teachers union’s demand about ventilation improvements in school was not a “dealbreaker”
  • European schools that opened sooner than U.S. schools had better “mitigating strategies”
  • The Trump administration failed to provide adequate guidance for reopening schools

But here are the facts that counter Weingarten’s claims:

  • AFT threatened striking over reopening schools and said, “nothing is off the table,” in July 2020
  • In December 2020, Weingarten threatened teachers could “retire early, quit, take a leave” instead of returning to teach in-person if ventilation was not upgraded in schools
  • European schools had “mitigating strategies” that were similar to policies enacted in states which reopened schools, such as Texas. Two examples of similar policies were the requirement for indoor mask-wearing by students and teachers and social distancing.
  • The Trump administration issued guidance that outlined operating guidelines for schools, a promise to spend over $13 billion to support students affected by the pandemic, and the distribution of “reusable face coverings” for students and teachers nationwide.

It appears that Weingarten is discovering, as President John Adams once quoted a proverb, “Facts are stubborn things.”

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.