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LAS VEGAS, NV. – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blasted Randi Weingarten and teachers unions at large for their role in school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic and their attitude toward parents who have become more vocal in their children’s educations.
In the same weekend Weingarten was re-elected to her eighth term as American Federation of Teachers president, she accused conservatives of working to “undermine” educators across the country.
“Randi Weingarten has been one of the most toxic voices fighting against kids, fighting against school choice everywhere she can,” Cruz told Fox News Digital at the Club for Growth School Freedom Forum Wednesday.
Cruz highlighted one of the more infamous incidents of the past year, when the nation’s two largest teachers unions – AFT and the National Education Association – were found to have corresponded with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ahead of their release of new school reopening guidance. The emails showed the unions offering suggestions to the CDC on guidance for the re-opening of in-person classrooms. The CDC appeared to use the unions’ suggestions word-for-word in more than one instance in the final text of the CDC document.
“We now have emails where Randi Weingarten was urging the Biden administration, ‘please shut down the schools. Keep them shut down,’” Cruz said. “And the Biden administration more than happy to dress up partisan, left-wing talking points as supposed health care. The CDC more than happy to echo the political talking points that came from the teachers union bosses.”
The AFT defended the correspondence, saying it was routine and that it also worked closely with the Trump administration.
“The AFT represents 1.7 million educators, healthcare professionals and public employees who spent the last 14 months serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. So naturally, we have been in regular touch with the agencies setting policy that affect their work and lives, including the CDC,” AFT spokeswoman Oriana Korin said.
“I’d say Randi Weingarten is now one of the most infamous characters of the entire last few years,” former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, R., told Fox News Digital, agreeing with Cruz. “She was busted with her emails, going to the White House and the CDC to try to change the science and keep our kids locked down. It’s unforgivable. They get to decide who’s going to be in charge of their union, but she’s been a terrible face for teachers, teachers that wanted to get back in schools, that wanted to teach kids. But their unions kept our schools locked down.”
Laxalt is the 2022 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Nevada, challenging Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
Parents and other attendees at the school choice conference concurred with the politicians’ assessment of the teachers union boss.
“They have an agenda,” Stephanie, from Las Vegas, said of teachers unions. “And that’s just clearly not the case. You can see, all the Republicans and conservatives, you can see how they’re fighting for the kids. And they want to be able to defend that and have that opportunity.”
“Well that’s wrong,” Helen F. Oseguera, a candidate for Clark County assessor, said, noting that they have teachers who “are on their side” who are “being oppressed by not being able to teach what they need to teach” because they’re being controlled by a progressive curriculum.
Cruz credited Weingarten, however, with helping hand the Virginia governor’s race to Republican Glenn Youngkin.
“We saw the reaction to it in Virginia, where Randi Weingarten went and campaigned for the Democrat and echoed that parents have no business saying what’s taught to their kids,” he said.
“And that kind of arrogant, out-of-touch extremism is a big part of the reason why Virginia, which had been a blue state, elected a Republican governor,” Cruz said.
Pollster Chris Wilson, who worked on Youngkin’s campaign, agreed, even wondering if they should have considered Weingarten’s endorsement of Democrat Terry McAuliffe as an “in-kind contribution.”
“Her out there, focusing on education, reminded every voter in Virginia, every parent in Virginia, that their kids have been kept out of school, and that [critical race theory] had been shoved down our throats in northern Virginia, and so it really gave us the opportunity to focus on what was wrong with McAuliffe and his…education stance,” Wilson said at the Club for Growth event.
Cruz said last weekend’s “vote-a-rama” also proved the power teachers unions have had in the school reopening debate. One of the amendments he introduced concerned the new vaccine mandate for Washington, D.C., public schools. D.C. students who are 12 and older must be vaccinated in order to attend school this academic year. Cruz noted that while 85 percent of the students are vaccinated, the 15 percent who aren’t are essentially being told, “you can’t come to school.”
Cruz further highlighted that 40 percent of African-American students are unvaccinated.
“I introduced an amendment saying that D.C. public schools should not tell 40% of the African-American students, we’re throwing you out of school,” he said. “We’re not going to let you go to school.”
That amendment, he noted, did not get one Democratic vote.
“That means every single Democrat this weekend voted to throw 40% of the Black students in the D.C. public schools out of schools,” Cruz said. “Why? Because they are so captive to the teachers union bosses that the kids whose lives they’re destroying, they don’t seem to matter to them.”
Asked to respond to Cruz’s charge, the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., referred Fox News Digital to Sen. Gary Peters’, D-Mich., comments on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.
“This is just another effort to delay or kill this important bill and would effectively remove the requirement for students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in D.C. Public schools,” Peters said. “Vaccines have proven to be effective at preventing the spread of this harmful disease, and D.C’s public schools now require FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine for eligible students, just like they do for Measles and Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. The requirement for D.C. Public school students to being vaccinated against this virus was enacted by the District of Columbia’s city council, a body that was duly elected by 700,000 Americans living in our nation’s capital. This motion would unnecessarily meddle with local Washington, D.C. Government and delay or kill this vital bill we are here to pass today. I urge my colleagues to oppose this measure.”
Weingarten and the AFT didn’t respond to requests for comment.