(Daily Caller) – Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), did not testify before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Wednesday, despite an invitation from Republican members.
Republican Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the committee’s ranking member, sent a letter Monday inviting Weingarten to testify. Wednesday’s hearing was the committee’s last during the 117th Congress.
🚨🚨🚨@SteveScalise has invited @AFTunion President @rweingarten to testify in our hearing this Wednesday.
School closures had catastrophic consequences for American children.
We need answers. pic.twitter.com/pjjNzasHEL
— Select Committee Republicans (@SelectGOP) December 12, 2022
Weingarten told Politico on Tuesday she would not attend. “It’s rare to receive an invitation to testify before Congress … but I look forward to a real discussion — with congressional leadership and appropriate notice — on the challenges educators, students and families faced during COVID and their efforts to help kids recover and thrive,” she said in a statement.
Scalise accused Weingarten and her union of contributing to “prolonged” school closures that resulted in “catastrophic effects” for children. He also said the AFT had an unprecedented influence over the Biden administration’s education policy.
Weingarten and the AFT had numerous meetings with top Biden administration officials as they were developing guidance on re-opening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Emails revealed that the teachers’ union had more meetings with officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) than parents’ groups did, and that the AFT had last-minute influence on CDC school guidance.
Studies have shown that remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in learning loss and stunted development in children.
In Weingarten’s absence, the committee heard testimony from Former Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Dr. Rick Bright, Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project Rebecca Dixon and President and Chief Executive Officer at Sinai Chicago Dr. Ngozi Ezike. The hearing covered the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to prepare for future pandemics.