Reviews | Can Randi Weingarten Save Public Schools?

Rodrigues, a parent of five, said when schools were closed, her 9-year-old gained around 40 pounds and cried hysterically every morning b...


Rodrigues, a parent of five, said when schools were closed, her 9-year-old gained around 40 pounds and cried hysterically every morning before her Zoom classes. “I finally said, this situation, this isolation, is breaking my child,” she said. Eventually she placed him and one of his siblings in a Catholic school that had reverted to in-person learning, and “their shine returned within two weeks.”

Since August, Weingarten constantly traveled; when I met her in December, she had visited over 60 schools. What she hears, over and over again, is that this year has started with an exhilaration, but the mood has deteriorated as the scale of the issues facing teachers has set in.

In addition to burnout and fatigue, there are staff shortages – teachers, substitutes, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and others. When schools closed, Weingarten said, many bus drivers and other employees not directly involved in education laid off. Now, in a tight labor market, schools cannot get them back. Schools should have money for US bailout staff, but Weingarten said instead of spending on hiring, districts are holding back, perhaps unsure of what they will face next.

The chaos and angst in many public schools have opened up new opportunities for private and charter schools. According to an analysis by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, charter enrollment increased by 7% in the 2020-2021 school year compared to the previous year. Part of that growth was likely due to families who switched to established online charters when their schools closed and may have since returned to their public schools. But Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, insists that’s not all, saying charters have increased even in states that don’t have online charter programs. .

Rodrigues says she is seeing greater interest in charter schools among left-wing parents who may have been suspicious of them in the past. “I haven’t seen a drastic shift towards something like vouchers,” she said. “But I’ve seen progressive parents who are now questioning everything, literally everything. I watched progressives have a conversation about charter schools that I had never seen before. “

Chris Rufo, the right-wing intellectual entrepreneur behind the campaign against anti-racial theory, told me last month that the next phase of his offensive would be a push for school choice, including including vouchers for private schools, charter schools and home schooling. “Public schools are waging war against American children and American families,” he said, so families should have “a basic right to go out.”

Weingarten believes that ultimately the campaign against critical race theory will hurt the school choice movement. According to her, the push for school reform was in a stronger position more than a decade ago, when its champions lambasted traditional public schools for failing black and brown students. If prominent school choice advocates attack schools for teaching too much about racism, it becomes much more difficult for them to pass themselves off as the heirs of the civil rights movement. “Are you going to tell black people that there is no such thing as racism in this country, and are you going to expect someone to kiss you for that?” ” she said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Reviews | Can Randi Weingarten Save Public Schools?
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