It’s easy enough to understand why American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten was so enthralled by an article in this month’s issue of The Atlantic arguing for “pandemic amnesty.”
When it comes to Covid, no one’s actions cry out for redemption more than hers.
The article, which Weingarten blasted out to perhaps dozens of her propaganda-starved followers on Twitter, asserts that blue-state governors, compromised public health officials and media talking heads shouldn’t be blamed for the now-apparent damage caused by what most have come to recognize as a massive, calculated, overreaction to Covid.
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In fairness, the article correctly notes that during the early days of the Covid scare in the spring of 2020, when what little information we had about the virus was coming from highly dubious sources in China, erring on the side of caution seemed the prudent course.
Deep blue enclaves like New York and California, of course, were quick to go all in, ordering mandatory masking, social distancing and vaccines. Governors in those states even went so far as to keep students out of school and throw thousands of residents out of work by closing (often permanently) businesses they deemed nonessential.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf was among the most ardent followers of this course.
By the summer of 2020, however, researchers were already cautiously optimistic our Covid fears might be overblown.
Following the best available science, governors in conservative states like Florida and Texas began phasing out mask guidelines, reopening businesses and restoring in-class learning.
And they did so over the determined opposition of local teachers’ unions, which were universally opposed to lifting mandates in general and returning students to the classroom in particular.
“There’s no way that you’re going to have full-time schools for all the kids and all the teachers the way we used to have it,” Weingarten actually said in July 2020.
A month later, when the American Academy of Pediatrics encouraged schools to reopen for classes in fall 2020, Weingarten opposed then-U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ efforts to reopen schools.
Weingarten consolidated her power in January 2021, when teachers’ union sock-puppet Joe Biden moved into the White House.
That May, in fact, Weingarten’s teachers’ union shown to have suggested language for the Centers for Disease Control’s school-reopening guidance released in February that resulted in schools staying remote longer into the 2020-2021 school year.
With the assistance of the AFT spin machine and the always-compliant mainstream media, though, Weingarten appeared to reverse course this past summer.
“Rather than championing shutdowns,” a puff piece in the New York Times lied, “[Weingarten has] spent much of her energy, both in public and behind the scenes, trying to get schools open.”
Money is one thing, but the long-term impact on millions of students from school closures that lasted in some cases up to two years is only now being measured. Parents, however, already know.
Reasonable people can differ over whether the need to proceed with caution at least during the early days of the pandemic was worth the monetary cost to employers ordered to close their doors and hundreds of millions in tax dollars spent on Covid relief.
Money is one thing, but the long-term impact on millions of students from school closures that lasted in some cases up to two years is only now being measured.
Parents, however, already know. They’ve watched as their children languished at home trying to get an education from a laptop computer rather than a live teacher. They’ve seen how the moratorium on real learning has resulted in jaw-dropping declines in assessment scores that were nothing to brag about to begin with.
Most tragically of all, they’ve seen how the lack of basic socialization has caused an epidemic of depression, obesity, substance abuse, and even youth suicide.
Parents know two precious years of their children’s development was stolen from them for no good reason, and they want answers.
Teachers’ unions were at the heart of the scandal, and it’s small wonder leaders like Randi Weingarten are hoping they’re in a forgiving mood.
Hunter Tower is the Pennsylvania state director of the Freedom Foundation. www.FreedomFoundation.com.