American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten was hit with a Twitter fact-check on Monday after she claimed she tried to get students back into the classroom during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weingarten made the hyperbolic claims in a tweet on Monday, acknowledging a post from Kyle Belokopisky — the executive director of the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers — on the supposed 3-year anniversary of planning to reopen New York schools.
“We worked together 3 years ago to get our kids back to in person schooling in a way that was safe for kids & staff. There was much unknown & much fear. NY helped w/needed science backed guidance & resources. Quite a contrast then from DeVos & DeSantis,” Weingarten wrote.
Weingarten’s assertion that she fought to reopen schools beginning in May of 2020 was quickly called out by Twitter users, who used the social media platform’s Community Notes feature to rebut the union boss’s dubious claim.
Twitter users added a note alleging that “Weingarten is misrepresenting her prior positions.”
The note referenced a July 2020 article from The Guardian which reported Weingarten calling attempts by the Trump administration to reopen schools in the fall of 2020 “reckless,” “callous” and “cruel.”
Another note informs users that Weingarten’s union “pushed aggressively at the local level” to keep schools shuttered until increased safety measures could be implemented.
A third note claims that “areas with high union influence remained closed much longer” than areas where unions have lower influence – for instance, in Florida 100% of students were back to in-person learning as of June 7, 2021, whereas in California only 37.8% of students were back in classrooms full-time, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Return to Learn Tracker.
Other tweets posted by the AFT leader were hit with the same fact-check, including one slamming Republicans.
“Covid scared the nation, but we tried to do everything we could to reopen schools safely,” Weingarten tweeted on April 28. “ It would have helped if Trump/DeVos helped instead of hectored. Now we must do everything we can to help kids learn & overcome the effects of the pandemic.”
A tweet in which Weingarten calls into question the validity of community notes on a PolitiFact story supporting her claims was also marked by Twitter fact-checkers.
“What’s false is the community note, not [PolitiFact]: My actual quote from the [Guardian]: ‘It’s as if Trump and DeVos want to create chaos and want to jeopardize reopening..There’s no other reason why they would be this reckless, this callous, this cruel,’” Weirgarten wrote, later pointing her followers to a Twitter user claiming the community notes feature is “a mess.”
In testimony on Capitol Hill last month, the defiant union heavyweight insisted that she had consistently pushed for school reopenings throughout the pandemic.
The Post reported last month that Weingarten consulted with outgoing CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and White House officials prior to a Feb. 12, 2021, announcement that slowed a full reopening of in-person instruction for students.
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