Randi Weingarten Explains it all for You

Over the past few years, I’ve grown accustomed to hearing ludicrous statements about my former profession, however, Randi Weingarten’s recent declaration that “kids do better in schools with teachers unions” certainly takes the cake.

Weingarten, who currently serves as president of the American Federation of Teachers and previously presided over the United Federation of Teachers, recently penned an op-ed for the Daily Beast in which she made numerous false claims in an effort to cast teachers unions in a positive light.

Apparently, Weingarten is under the assumption that Americans have short memories and have forgotten the wanton destruction wrought by teachers unions, which became especially evident during the pandemic.

So, without further ado, here are the four most absurd assertions courtesy of Weingarten.

Lie number one: “Research shows that teachers unions are positively associated with student achievement.”

Actually, the total opposite is true. According to U.S. News & World Report, “Research has consistently shown that private school students tend to perform better in standardized tests. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is often referred to as ‘the nation’s report card’” assesses both public and private school students in subjects such as math, reading, science and writing. The most recent NAEP data shows what other research has found: Private school students score better in almost all subjects. On college entry tests such as the SAT, NAIS found that students in private schools consistently outperformed their public school peers in all subject areas.”

Lie number two: “After the onset of the pandemic, teachers worked harder than ever.”

This would be true had Weingarten inserted the words “non-public school” before “teachers” in the sentence above. In reality, the vast majority of teachers unions refused to teach in-person during the duration of the pandemic and for months (and in some cases, more than a full year) after the pandemic had subsided. Meanwhile, almost all private schools remained open for in-person learning during the same period.

Anecdotally, we’ve also witnessed countless stories of teachers and teachers union officials going on vacation while they vehemently pushed to keep public schools closed under the guise of the pandemic.

Lie number three: “In addition to fighting for educators to be paid in accordance with the important work they do, my union also fights for what students, their families, and their communities need.”

Teachers unions care about one thing only: growing membership so that the union can extract more dues. As was made plain throughout the pandemic, teachers unions could not care less about students, their families, or their communities. As 2020 Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who strongly supports teachers unions, infamously put it, “I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Moreover, if teachers unions actually cared about students, families, and communities, I would think they would be at least sympathetic to the overwhelming cry from these people that they desperately desire school choice. But school choice is a competitive threat to the public-school monopoly, so no wonder teachers unions adamantly oppose school choice in any form.

Lie number four: “Many teachers are scared to allow discussions of complex topics that help prepare students for a healthy democracy. History teachers worry whether they can teach slavery, reconstruction, or civil rights. Add all this to the case for teachers’ right to a union.”

As a former public high school teacher of U.S. history in South Carolina, I can say with 100 percent certainty that no teacher is remotely afraid to teach about slavery, Reconstruction, or the civil rights movement. In fact, the state curriculum standards in South Carolina mandate an in-depth exploration of all three of these topics. It is a complete farce to claim that teachers are being forbidden to teach these subjects.

What’s more, South Carolina is a “right to work” state, which means that public school teachers are not forced to join a union. On the other hand, I taught a few years in Illinois, which requires that all public-school teachers join the local teachers union. Given my experience in both situations, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that teaching in South Carolina was much less burdensome and a more pleasant affair overall.

And it sure was nice to not have to fork over hefty union dues every paycheck.

In sum, Weingarten is clearly on the defensive. She is well aware that the unacceptable behavior on behalf of teachers unions was totally exposed during the pandemic. Furthermore, I think she sees that school choice is gaining momentum throughout the country. Weingarten’s screed is nothing more than a last gasp from a sclerotic institution that is desperate to stay relevant and in business.

It is past time that we consider alternatives to teachers unions, which do not help kids. As they have demonstrated all too often as of late, teachers unions exist to enrich and empower the adults who run them and the politicians who receive massive campaign donations to do their bidding.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.orgis editorial director at The Heartland Institute.

Image: AFGE

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