National teachers’ union: ‘We’ve been trying to reopen schools since last April’
No April Fools jokes here. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten stated recently in an interview: “We’ve been trying to reopen schools since last April.”
The comment was made during an interview on the Black News Channel as Weingarten discussed her union’s response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated social distancing guidelines in schools.
But looking at how the national union’s local affiliates have responded to school reopening efforts doesn’t quite line up with Weingarten’s statement, reports Mike Antonucci.
After 11 months of school closures, we have a treasure trove of evidence of how they reacted to many and varied reopening plans. Even among the districts where schools eventually reopened, AFT unions offered more resistance than cooperation.
From the New York City teachers’ union pushing to delay fall reopening efforts and preparing to strike “if a satisfactory reopening deal wasn’t reached with Mayor Bill de Blasio” to the Los Angeles teachers’ union opposing reopening all along, pushback on getting students back into classrooms — even when the science said it could be done safely — has appeared to be many local unions’ default reaction.
Antonucci continues by sharing several other examples that contradict Weingarten’s claim.
The Chicago teachers’ union tweeted and then deleted that “the push to reopen schools is rooted in sexism, racism and misogyny.”
The Miami teachers’ union sued Florida last summer to stop the “reckless and unsafe reopening of schools” in the fall.
The Baltimore teachers’ union “protested school reopening plans in September, October, November and January.”
The teachers’ union in Fairfax County, Virginia “opposed reopening plans in September, October, December and January.”
The Philadelphia teachers’ union has opposed several reopening plans, and told its “members in February not to report to school on reopening day.”
In Minnesota, the Minneapolis and St. Paul teachers’ unions made headlines for their pushback on students returning to in-person instruction in January.
So no, teachers’ unions have not made obvious efforts to try and reopen schools — despite the growing evidence that keeping children out of school is harmful. As Antonucci so aptly concludes, “We won’t have five-day-a-week, in-person instruction for all K-12 students until the teachers unions say so.”
Many parents are shifting to private schools, home schooling, and other learning environments, and many are realizing that the teachers’ unions have been wielding a power over the education of our children for far too long.