American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten lies compulsively — it’s both her job and her nature. But when those lies are uttered under oath during a Congressional hearing, they become something more.
Last Wednesday, Weingarten testified before the House Oversight Committee on the consequences of COVID-related school closures after it was revealed that the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) not only gave AFT an advanced look at its proposed guidelines but directly inserted the union’s suggested changes.
Edits made by AFT resulted in schools in union-dominated jurisdictions remaining closed significantly longer than those elsewhere, leading to devastating learning losses for millions of students. Congress called on Weingarten to take responsibility for the outcome, but her testimony was characteristically evasive.
AFT President Randi Weingarten: "We spent every day from February on trying to get schools open. We knew that remote education was not a substitute for opening schools." pic.twitter.com/1qNL05VD3u
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) April 26, 2023
Even Twitter’s new fact-checking feature rebuked the union leader’s ludicrous claims during her testimony that “(W)e spent every day from February on trying to get schools open.” Citing articles from The Guardian, Education Week, and New York Times, Twitter Community Notes pointed to studies revealing that the areas with high union influence remained closed much longer than necessary. Weingarten’s union, in particular, pushed aggressively to keep schools closed, calling the Trump Administration’s fall 2020 reopening plan “reckless, callous and cruel.”
The union boss told The Guardian in July 2020, she watched Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with disbelief that turned to anger when she appeared on TV to call on schools to be “fully operational” in the fall.
House Democrats tried to help Weingarten throw shade on the prior administration. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asserted, “President Trump never produced a school reopening plan” and “DeVos never offered any guidance.”
Following the hearing, Weingarten doubled down, tweeting “We tried to do everything we could to reopen schools safely. It would have helped if Trump/DeVos helped instead of hectored.”
Community Notes clapped back again, flagging her tweet with citations threatening strikes in July 2020 if schools returned to in-person learning, evidence of the Trump Administration’s push to reopen by giving schools a whopping $190 billion to re-open, along with studies published in the Washington Post showing European schools were open and safe.
Undaunted, Weingarten continued to scapegoat the previous administration.
Covid scared the nation, but we tried to do everything we could to reopen schools safely. It would have helped if Trump/DeVos helped instead of hectored. Now we must do everything we can to help kids learn & overcome the effects of the pandemic. https://t.co/waWT8BuCQh
— Randi Weingarten 🇺🇦🇺🇸💪🏿👩🎓 (@rweingarten) April 28, 2023
Weingarten told the committee members, “Neither the president at that time nor Betsy DeVos would confer with us.”
But DeVos later told Fox News Saturday, “That is absolutely false. Randi Weingarten and her allies never reached out asking us to meet with them. In fact, they were very averse to us meeting with them.”
DeVos continued, “It’s interesting because during her testimony Randi claimed she’s 65 and she can’t remember a lot of things. Well, I’m also 65 and I remember clearly all the work we did to try and help schools reopen and all the work that she and her allies did to keep schools closed.”
Unions are, by definition, a political enterprise, DeVos claimed, a reality exemplified by AFT’s actions during the pandemic.
“They were holding kids hostage to political demands,” DeVos said, noting that United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) famously threatened not to reopen until its sweeping list of demands – including defunding the police, implementation of a Medicare-for-All healthcare system, and a statewide wealth tax – was met.
We were talking in the spring and summer of 2020 about how to safely reopen schools. There was evidence and every reason to get kids back in school in fall of 2020, and the reality is that Randi and all of her allies kept dragging their feet, kept finding excuses to not reopen schools particularly in Democrat-controlled, union-heavy cities and states.
Even CNN took a swipe at Weingarten’s fictitious testimony. Scott Jennings, the left-leaning network’s senior political commentator, noted, “Speaking on behalf of millions of American parents … I am stunned at what you have said this week about your claiming to have wanted to reopen schools. I think you’ll find that most parents believe you are the tip of the spear of school closures.”
There are numerous statements you made over the summer of 2020 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 kids. For you to sit in front of Congress and the American people and say, ‘Oh, I wanted to open them 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.
Throughout the exchange, Weingarten displayed no emotion.
Even far-left mayor of Chicago Lori Lightfoot told CNN this week, Weingarten’s claims were “not the reality” of what unfolded under her reign.
Congress must hold this radical union boss accountable for not only her crimes against children during the pandemic, but for committing perjury in the process of denying her nefarious actions.