Randi Weingarten, the leader of the second-largest teachers’ union in the United States, is broadly blaming a worldwide drop in math scores on the COVID-19 pandemic despite fiercely lobbying against the return of in-person learning.
Weingarten — president of the American Federation of Teachers — issued a statement that appeared to credit remote learning during the pandemic for a drop in scores on the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment. The scores released on Tuesday showed that U.S. tenth graders’ math scores hit an all-time low in 2022 and declined 13 points from 2018.
Weingarten said in a press release:
Worldwide, the extraordinary drop in math and reading scores shows how detrimental the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath was to student learning and highlights just how important it is that we prepare now, so we’re not caught off guard during another public health crisis.
In-person learning is where kids do best, which is why educators & their unions worked hard to reopen US schools for safe in-person learning beginning back in April 2020, and why we’ve spent the last several years following the pandemic prioritizing public schooling & investing…
— Randi Weingarten 🇺🇺🇸💪🏿👩🎓 (@rweingarten) December 5, 2023
In-person learning is where kids do best, which is why educators and their unions worked so hard to reopen US schools for safe in-person learning beginning back in April 2020, and why we’ve spent the last several years following the pandemic prioritizing public schooling and investing in real solutions that help kids recover and thrive.
However, Weingarten, 65, was at the forefront of fighting against schools reopening, at one point reportedly calling the Trump administration’s effort to end school closures “reckless” and “cruel.”
“It’s as if [then-President Donald] Trump and [then-Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos want to create chaos and want to jeopardize reopening,” Weingarten told the Guardian of the plan to fully reopen schools in fall 2020. “There’s no other reason why they would be this reckless, this callous, this cruel.”
Randi Weingarten is again attempting to rewrite history by claiming she advocated for schools to reopen. The fact is she campaigned to keep schools closed, and was influential in halting the CDC’s plans for reopening. https://t.co/rxYj7wMtpR pic.twitter.com/VyjMszFGcY
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) October 18, 2023
The New York Post revealed in May 2021 how Weingarten successfully lobbied the Biden administration to stall a full reopening and to allow some staff to continue working remotely through the winter of that year.
“We have an obligation to make remote better because until we can really decrease (coronavirus) community spread throughout the United States, distance learning and distance working is going to be a fact of life,” she said at the time.