Congressional Hearing Re-Examines AFT COVID-19 Pandemic Plan
Monday, May 1, 2023
GOP lawmakers are questioning teacher's unions about school closure policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 26, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, testified before the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic about the union's response.
Weingarten was grilled by members of the subcommittee, who felt AFT had too much access to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's research. She contended that information helped educators keep students safe.
"If you have educators in your lives, you know that their priority is their students," said Weingarten, "to create a safe environment for all children, and to prepare them for life, career, college and citizenship."
She noted AFT was right to consult the CDC in developing a plan to help schools navigate the pandemic. This comes as faith in public schools is at an all-time low.
According to a 2022 Gallup poll, only 28% of people have a great deal of confidence in them. That's down from 41% in 2020.
Weingarten and educators are addressing pandemic-related learning loss. In Virginia, math and reading scores sharply declined throughout the state, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
In her testimony, Weingarten said lawmakers need to come together with teacher's unions to address the future of education.
"Let's work together now, to help kids recover and leap academically," said Weingarten. "Let's expand community schools. Let's increase experiential learning and career connected learning. Let's address educator burnout."
Burnout is causing educators to leave or retire from the profession quicker than they planned, and a report from AFT shows the pandemic only made that problem worse.
Even before COVID, the report says almost 300,000 teachers were leaving the profession every year.
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