Professional yacht collector and Secretary of Education Betsy Devos had some harsh words for teachers as she pushes for in-person school reopenings despite a nationwide pandemic.
“The American Federation of Teachers called Tuesday for ‘safety strikes’ as a last resort if school reopening plans don’t meet demands for keeping educators healthy and safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Union President Randi Weingarten delivered that battle cry during an address to union members, adding fresh tension to fraught schoolhouse debates as President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden take sides on opposite ends of the fight.
The national labor union floated the prospect of teacher strikes two days before Biden is scheduled to deliver a speech Thursday to the group’s 1.7 million members.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is also expected to discuss concerns about schools reopening in a discussion with Weingarten on Tuesday night.
‘Let’s be clear: Just as we have done with our health care workers, we will fight on all fronts for the safety of students and their educators,’ Weingarten said on Tuesday. ‘But if the authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table — not advocacy or protests, negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized by a local union, as a last resort, safety strikes.’
A spokesperson for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that ‘no one is advocating for teachers to be unsafe.’
‘Let’s not pretend that Ms. Weingarten’s threat to strike has anything to do with the safety or children or the public,’ Education Department spokesperson Angela Morabito said in a statement. ‘If the unions were really concerned about doing what’s best for students and teachers, they’d be focused on what they need to do to be a partner in reopening schools safely.’
Only weeks remain until schools restart some semblance of instruction for tens of millions of kids, many of whom live in areas with ongoing virus outbreaks. Parents and school districts are struggling to decide whether to continue online learning this fall, as Trump and top members of his administration press for a return to in-person classes and Senate Republicans push their plan to provide $70 billion to boost K-12 education, with a bigger cut for schools that reopen.
Now AFT, along with the president of the larger National Education Association, is saying all options are in play for millions of educators still negotiating with local leaders over plans for beginning the fall semester.”
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