Federal officials ‘at crossroads’ on schooling between parents, teachers and Randi Weingarten: ‘The Five’

The surge in COVID-19 cases, due to the omicron variant, has restarted the debate whether to have schools move to remote learning, forcing elected officials to figure out who to side with in terms of parents or teachers union bosses like American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

On “The Five“, host Jesse Watters pointed out that as the Chicago teachers union is threatening a strike-like action in hopes of continuing online-only schooling, President Biden’s top medical adviser Anthony Fauci told ABC News over the weekend that he recognizes the “deleterious effects” of keeping students out of the classroom.

On the other hand, Biden has repeatedly burnished his bona fides as a supporter of educators and teachers unions, including a quip during a Labor Day event that he “sleeps with an NEA member every night” – in reference to First Lady Jill Biden, who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College.

Watters noted that Fauci’s most recent comments appear to place the administration at odds with the unions:

“Groups across the country testing the waters for their own departures from the classroom. Once again the science isn’t on their side [and] the arguments have gone so far off the rails that even people like Dr. Fauci are saying school should stay open,” Watters said. 

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks during the AFGE Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, speaks during the AFGE Legislative and Grassroots Mobilization Conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Watters reported that in Chicago’s case, the school district received $3 billion in federal taxpayer money for pandemic mitigation measures, and therefore has more than enough resources to protect teachers who return to in-person work.

“They can build a plastic igloo around each individual teacher’s desk to prevent this, but they still don’t want to go in the classroom. What more do they want?,” he added. 

Co-host Judge Jeanine Pirro pointed to Weingarten, one of the nation’s most prominent union leaders, recalling how the AFT chief offered-upon-request language for the CDC to use for its school reopening guidelines last May.

Weingarten defended the collaboration with the Biden administration as “normal rulemaking”, and appeared to criticize former President Trump for failing to engage with the AFT in the same way:

“This is what every administration used to do. The problem with the last administration didn’t do it,” Weingarten said at the time.

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LEFT: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

LEFT: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.
(RIGHT: Al Drago Bloomberg via Getty ImagesLEFT: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“So you’ve got the teachers union at odds with the administration. Remember it was the administration, or so it seemed, the CDC taking information from Randi Weingarten… All of a sudden there’s this break where the teachers are like, we want to make sure all these kids are tested and test negative. We just went through this,” Pirro said. “You can’t get enough tests to test the kids to begin with and now you want to create this impossible hurdle so that you don’t have to go back to work. This is what’s at odds now. The administration is facing 2022. They know the moms in America have had it.”

Pirro further suggested Virginia Gov-elect. Glenn Youngkin’s win last November over close-Clinton ally Terence McAuliffe solidified the idea that parents are indeed fed up with having little say over their children’s education.

“Even The Washington Post is coming out and saying it’s really time to kind of weather through this; severe illness is really uncommon among children and all you teachers are vaccinated — Get back to work, you’ve been paid enough,” she said. 

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