James “The Amazing” Randi, who died at age 92 in 2020, began his career in the 1940s as an illusionist and escape artist. But eventually he became a “disillusionist” who traveled the country “exposing seers who did not see, healers who did not heal, and many others.”
Then there is the head of the American Federation of Teachers, Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten, who is actually the antithesis of the Amazing Randi. In fact, had James Randi lived, he could devote his life to skewering Weingarten, and have little time for anything else. What follows is a brief summary of distortions, missteps, and all-around blather from the union boss so far this year.
In February, Weingarten revealed that her union had engaged NewsGuard, a “leading anti-misinformation tool,” which protects and champions legitimate journalism and fact-based reporting and “will help educators and their students navigate a sea of online disinformation.”
But like so many “factcheckers,” NewsGuard’s factchecking is not close to objective. Nine of the 10 websites on NewsGuard’s “Ten Most Influential Misinformers” list for 2021 lean right, with NewsMax, TheGatewayPundit.com and The Federalist deemed the worst of the worst. On the other hand, “The Ten Top Trustworthy and Trending Sites” are all center to far left with NBCNews.com, The New York Times and The Washington Post ranked highest.
In March, the half-truth about her teaching reared its head again. In an article called “Choosing aspiration over anger,” she mentions, “I taught social studies and civics.” Not the first time she claimed to be a teacher. Yes, she taught history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn for a few years, but in 2011, EAG News obtained her personnel file via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. According to the New York City Board of Education, she was hired as a substitute teacher in 1991, received a provisional license in 1993, and a certificate to serve as a substitute in 1994. Additionally, “A 1997 letter indicates she didn’t submit documentation showing she’d met requirements for licensure. No record indicates she ever served as a full-time teacher or were evaluated by a principal or other school official.”
Yet, she has never acknowledged these details or corrected the record. When she ran for president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers in 1998, her opponent Michael Shulman suggested that that she not a “real teacher,” explaining, “She worked five months full-time that I’ve been aware of, in 1992, at Clara Barton High School,” Shulman was quoted as saying in the New York Times. He added, “Since then she taught maybe one class for 40 minutes a day.”
Also in March, she stated that masking should be required until there is “zero transmission in schools.” Which is tantamount to saying that children should not be allowed to ride in cars till there are “zero deaths” of children due to auto accidents. Additionally, cloth masks have been shown to be little more than facial decorations.
Additionally, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s House Bill (HB) 1557 into law in March, which disallows or limits schools from instructing children in certain sexual matters. The heart of the new law states, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
This outraged Weingarten, who went off the rails, grousing that the law will “single out certain kids and families for derision and denigration. It is just wrong. Its intent is to divide our communities and make political hay, but it hurts children, hurts families and makes it hard for teachers to do their jobs.”
Nonsense. The law simply doesn’t allow teachers to discuss certain sexual identity issues with young children. Weingarten also inanely insisted that the law would shame “LGBTQIA+ people back into the closet by policing their identity.”
In April, Weingarten had the temerity to write a piece called, “When crisis strikes, teachers are there.” (A more apt name would have been, “When teachers strike, a crisis is there.”) In reality, when the Covid crisis hit, she did all she could to make sure that teachers “weren’t there.” In fact, a New York Post exposé revealed that the AFT lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on – and even proposed language for – the agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February 2021. Quite obviously the lobbying paid off as, in at least two instances, language suggestions offered by the union were adopted nearly verbatim in the final text of the CDC document.” AFT senior director for health issues Kelly Trautner went so far as to describe the union as the CDC’s “thought partner” in an email.
Similarly, she also has referred to teachers as first responders on a few occasions. This is beyond laughable. When Covid hit, cops still worked, as did firemen. Hell, the produce guy at my local supermarket stayed on the job. But at her direction, teachers became non-responders.
In May, she engaged in serious misdirection when asserting, “The attempt to cloak book bans and censorship as a parent issue is not working. What is happening is that the pro-public education forces — which include the overwhelming number of parents who send their kids to public schools — want to have a safe and welcoming and high-quality environment for their kids. They want their kids to have critical thinking skills. They want their kids to distinguish fact from fiction, to be taught accurate history.”
The imbroglio is not about book bans and censorship, of course, but simply that parents don’t won’t their kids being brainwashed with political tripe and inappropriate sexual material. Not being able to let an issue rest, she went on to say that Critical Race Theory is a “college-level academic discipline that examines racism as an everyday experience for people of color and that is not taught in K-12 public schools.”
June saw her go gun-loony. Weingarten and some fellow travelers protested outside Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s office where she shrieked, “Schools are supposed to be safe and welcoming places. There’s no amount of hardening you’re going to be able to do if an 18-year-old comes in with an AR-15, shooting 300 bullets a minute, and is wearing body armor.”
Apparently, Weingarten is ignorant of the fact that an AR-15 is a semiautomatic gun, which requires its user to pull the trigger each time a bullet is to be discharged. Firing 300 rounds a minute? Hardly.
In July, she totally contradicted her May declaration concerning CRT not being taught in k-12 by having Ibram X. Kendi, probably the most aggressive CRT proponent in the country, speak at an AFT conference. His talk was touted as, “Hear from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi in this free-ranging discussion with student activists and AFT members on his scholarship and on developing anti-racist mindsets and actions inside and outside classrooms.”
The same month she had the temerity to tell Education Week that conservatives should “stop politicizing education and let teachers teach.” This coming on the heels of Kendi, first lady Jill Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Ed Markey, and squad member Rep. Ayanna Pressley speaking at the recent AFT convention.
Additionally, the AFT spends tons of money on politics, and just about every cent of it goes leftward. For example, in the 2022 election cycle, AFT spent $1,691,018 on Democratic Congressional candidates and a measly $125 went to Republicans.
Then, in August, Weingarten come down with a case of “foot-in-mouth” disease. Seems that “Freesus Patriot,” some rando on Twitter, posted that Florida has banned books such as To Kill a Mockingbird and A Wrinkle in Time.
True-believing Randi ate it right up and reposted it, but was soon humbled when shown the tweet was fraudulent. While she admitted she was wrong in this case, she never apologized for an absolutely asinine comment she made, accusing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) of antisemitism for criticizing “Soros backed prosecutors.”
Things did not let up for the union boss in September. Her historical illiteracy was front and center when she tweeted that America’s founding fathers didn’t question the morality of slavery when forming the nation, saying, “If America’s founders questioned slavery there would not have been the heinous ‘3/5 compromise’ in the US Constitution. This is basic history…”
Actually, the three-fifths compromise was a vital part of negotiations surrounding the Constitution. Without this clause, it would have been very difficult to get southern states to ratify the document, making it less likely that a unified U.S. would have been created.
As if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky didn’t have enough problems, October saw Weingarten fly off to the embattled area. She claimed she was invited there as “part of the global labor movement’s commitment to assist the region’s educators in standing up for freedom and democracy while keeping refugee kids learning in perilous times.”
Upon landing, she tweeted, “Woke up this am to reports of disgusting Russian missile strikes in Kyiv, Lviv & other cities. Heading to the border now to assess the situation. This Russian attempt to frighten civilians & the effect on children (who are learning online today) is why this UA trip is so important.”
“Assess the situation?” Maybe she thinks she is Secretary of State?
Regarding the “learning online” comment, kids in Ukraine are stuck with extended remote learning because of an actual war. But in the U.S. kids got stuck with extended remote learning because of Weingarten, and they are paying a disastrous price for it, especially minority kids who can afford it the least.
Randi Weingarten is an egotistical, megalomaniacal, hypocritical self-promoter. And via union dues, pulls in $534,000 dollars a year for her efforts. She just began her eighth term as AFT president, and electing anyone else is close to impossible. As such, teachers who don’t want to support her antics should register their displeasure by quitting her union. The U.S. Supreme Court has guaranteed their right to do so.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.