Randi Weingarten Says Her AFT Has Been ‘Trying to Reopen Schools Since Last April.’ What the Union’s Locals Actually Did

Mike Anotunucci:

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, raised some eyebrows March 19 during an interview on the Black News Channel. While discussing her union’s response to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distancing guidelines for students, she said, “We’ve been trying to reopen schools since last April.”

Her choice of month was timed to the release last year of AFT’s “A Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” on April 29, 2020. With the union having jumped on the school reopening movement so early, according to Weingarten, surely there are many cases of AFT local affiliates at the forefront of the effort.

The teachers in almost all of America’s largest urban school districts are represented by AFT affiliates. After 11 months of school closures, we have a treasure trove of evidence of how they reacted to many and varied reopening plans. Even among the districts where schools eventually reopened, AFT unions offered more resistance than cooperation.

Let’s start with the largest: New York City and the United Federation of Teachers. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo shuttered schools in May 2020 for the remainder of the school year, UFT released a statement supporting his decision.