WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell launched a divisive attack on teachers as an excuse not to pass a bipartisan relief bill:
“Teachers and school staff want to reopen. They also want to be safe. Why is that so hard for Mitch McConnell to understand?
“Instead of working with the majority to pass a rescue package, the minority leader is playing politics with children’s and teachers’ lives. He refused to even hold a vote on what schools needed from May to December, effectively delaying reopenings and thwarting the resources needed to keep schools safe in the middle of a pandemic.
“Now, two weeks into a new administration, McConnell is trying to once again deny us the safeguards to help kids. This is as urgent today as it was yesterday, but Mitch would prefer to sit on his hands rather than help.
“Today McConnell tried to cynically exploit this crisis to scapegoat teachers—and he’s doing it because he wants an excuse not to pass a bipartisan bill to safely reopen schools. He would rather kick sand in our faces than get us the guidance and relief we need.
“Educators are working around the clock to engage their kids, and the AFT has been updating our plan for a safe reopening since we first published it in April. We’ve repeatedly identified the funding necessary to get back to in-person learning. The issue is how we get there, rather than how many rhetorical roadblocks you can throw up to avoid the responsibility to legislate.
“McConnell ignored our efforts and now blames us for his lack of support. The Biden administration has joined teachers in our goal to reopen safely—which is why it’s crucial Congress acts on a relief bill in coming days, without Republicans if necessary.”