The results from the latest international assessments show a 13-point drop in US math scores from 2018 to 2022, and the president of the second-largest teachers union is using it as another opportunity to gaslight the public about her role in COVID-era school closures.
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president, took to X to repeat the lie that teachers unions worked hard to reopen US schools for safe in-person learning beginning back in April 2020.
Weingarten turned off comments on her post to attempt to avoid public backlash. In other words, she closed her replies like she closed the schools.
Her attempt to avoid public accountability didnt work, however. The same day, X users slapped a Community Note fact-check on her post calling out her revisionist history.
Her union threatened safety strikes in 2020 and successfully lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make it more difficult to reopen schools in person. The unions lobbying worked. In at least two instances, the unions suggestions made it into the CDC guidance nearly verbatim. The CDC wasnt following the science. It was following the political science.
Randi Weingarten called the presidents plan to reopen schools reckless, callous and cruel.
Chicago Teachers Union played a founding role in Weingartens union, and it is still one of her local affiliates. CTU deleted its post claiming the push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny, and one of its board members was caught vacationing in Puerto Rico in person while it was still railing against going back to work in person.
Its fearmongering knew no bounds. CTU shared an interpretive dance video protesting reopening schools in 2021. CTU used COVID-19 as an excuse to strike again in 2022. In places like union-controlled Chicago, two weeks to slow the spread turned into two years to flatten a generation.
Another local affiliate of Weingartens AFT, United Teachers Los Angeles, included ridiculous political demands that had nothing to do with safety in its report on reopening schools: Its report on reopening schools called for Medicare for All, wealth taxes and charter-school bans.
Similarly, on two occasions, about a dozen teachers unions joined coalitions, including the Democratic Socialists of America, to demand safe schools by holding national days of resistance. Included in their lists of demands were more federal funding, police-free schools, rent cancellation and a ban on new charter schools.
My groundbreaking peer-reviewed study on the topic, coauthored with Christos Makridis, found that school districts in locations with stronger teachers unions were less likely to reopen in person even after we controlled for differences in local demographic characteristics like COVID risk, politics, household income and population.
As we concluded, Our findings that school closures are uncorrelated with the actual incidence of the virus, but are rather strongly associated with unionization, implies that the decision to close schools has been a politicalnot scientificdecision.
If Randi Weingarten was fighting so hard to reopen schools, then why were they closed for so long while union-free private schools were open from the get-go?
The truth is power-hungry teachers unions held childrens education hostage to secure multiple multibillion-dollar ransoms from taxpayers. About $190 billion in so-called COVID relief was allocated to K-12 education after March 2020.
The good news is parents have woken up. The unintended benefit of remote learningwhich should have just been called remotely learning because not a lot of learning was going onwas families were able to see what was happening in the classroom.
Parents started to see another dimension of school quality thats arguably more important than anything that can be captured by a standardized test: whether the schools curriculum aligns with their values.
Were now in the middle of a school-choice revolution: 10 states have passed universal-school-choice policies in the past two years alone. The wind is at our backs, and theres nothing Randi Weingarten can do about it. Her desperate attempts to rewrite history wont change anything because parents arent dumb. They saw what happened right before their eyes.
I would call on her to resign for her crimes against children and their families, but by overplaying her hand, Randi Weingarten has inadvertently done more to advance school choice than anyone could have ever imagined.