USA Today Columnist Slams Randi Weingarten’s ‘What Kids and Communities Need’ Campaign: ‘Total Gaslighting’

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A USA Today columnist blasted American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten for a new campaign she accused of being mere ‘gaslighting’, given the way Weingarten and her union have behaved during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “What Kids and Communities Need” campaign is described as “a new effort to invest in public schools and communities, and encourage Democrats and elected officials at the federal, state and local levels to take up the education debate by returning to the basics and focus on what matters most to student success.” Weingarten kicked off the effort at the AFT’s biennial convention, where she was re-elected to an eighth term as president.

USA Today columnist Ingrid Jacques questioned the union’s motives in a new article titled, “Teachers’ unions want parents to forget what happened during COVID. Don’t let them.”

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“It’s total gaslighting,” Jacques wrote of the campaign. “What children and communities need is simple: they need reliable schools where teachers show up and do their job. Yet that is not [what has] has happened in far too many cases over the past two years.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, along with members of Congress, parents and care advocates hold a press conference to support investments in home care, child care, paid vacations and the expansion of CTC payments in front of the United States Capitol building. October 21, 2021, in Washington, DC (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising Together)
(Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising Together)

Jacques wrote that teachers’ unions have played a major role in the prolonged pandemic-related school closures and resulting negative consequences. Studies have shown that two years of inconsistent schooling have led to academic slowdowns and mental health crises, among other issues currently plaguing young students. Jacques noted that the teachers’ union often prevents a return to classrooms, writing how Weingarten asked union members in April 2020 to ‘scream bloody murder’ if they felt schools lacked proper safety measures. .

“If schools are reopened without proper safety measures, ‘you’re screaming murder,’ Weingarten said at the time. ‘And you’re doing everything you can to…use your public megaphones.’

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Now, highlighting a recent conversation the AFT president had with the USA Today editorial board in which she appeared to absolve the unions of blame, Jacques said Weingarten was “trying to rewrite history.”

“What I regret is COVID,” Weingarten told USA TODAY. “What I regret is fear. What I regret is misinformation. Wish we had a crystal ball, and knew then what we know now, so we could have been firmer to say, if you do X and Y and Z, can we reopen the schools in person? Yeah. Because I think being in person is the most important.

A general view of the notice board outside Millburn High School during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which reads:

A general view of the bulletin board outside Millburn High School during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which reads: ‘Schools closed but we never cancel hope’ on May 9, 2020, in Millburn, NJ .
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Never mind those facts. Weingarten is now trying to rewrite history to absolve the union of responsibility for what it did to children and families during the pandemic,” Jacques said. “School closures hurt children.”

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Parents have been speaking out at school board meetings across the country in the wake of ongoing COVID-19 mandates and revelations about progressive curricula, and Republican lawmakers have introduced measures to address many of the same issues. At the AFT’s biennial conference, Weingarten accused conservatives of trying to “undermine” educators.

“Randi Weingarten has been one of the most toxic voices fighting against children, fighting school choice wherever she can,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital at Club for Growth School Freedom Forum earlier this month.

Members listen before Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Democrats from the Texas State Legislature at the American Federation of Teachers, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Members listen before Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Democrats from the Texas State Legislature at the American Federation of Teachers, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Part of the ‘What Kids and Communities Need’ tour is to counter what Weingarten calls efforts by ‘partisan political extremists’ to sow distrust of public schools,” Jacques wrote. “If Weingarten really wants to address that mistrust, she should look within first.”

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The AFT and the National Education Association were the subject of controversy last year when it was discovered that they had corresponded with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ahead of the release of new guidelines on reopening schools. schools. The emails showed unions offering suggestions to the CDC on guidance for reopening in-person classrooms. The CDC appeared to use union suggestions verbatim in more than one instance in the final text of the CDC document.

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