Teachers’ Union Blames Pandemic For Students Failing

The head of the US organization that represents teachers argued against a complete return to in-person learning during the COVID-19 epidemic, and now she has connected the global decline in math performance on a critical international exam to that outbreak.

In a statement made after the announcement of the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) math assessment results on Tuesday, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten held online education responsible for the decline in performance.

The first set of PISA results after the COVID-19 epidemic were released on Tuesday. The test measures the mathematical, reading, and scientific abilities of fifteen-year-olds from over eighty nations.

According to reports, 65-year-old Weingarten pushed against the Trump administration’s plan to reopen schools throughout the country in July 2020, describing the move as “reckless” and “brutal” because millions of Americans were sick or died from COVID-19 at the time.

She persuaded the Biden administration to delay a complete reopening and provide remote work permission to select instructors throughout the winter of 2021.

In May of this year, Weingarten faced accusations that she had “misrepresented her earlier beliefs” by asserting that she had campaigned to reopen schools.

PISA exam results for US 15-year-olds fell 13 points from pre-pandemic levels, following a global pattern.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics—the US institution responsible for administering the test—disputed that the epidemic contributed to the worse performance.

The most prominent US teachers’ organization, the National Education Association, issued a statement declaring that the findings demonstrated the need for more funding for American schools; nevertheless, the statement failed to address the epidemic.

“High-performing” countries and systems, according to NEA president Becky Pringle, “combine high levels of success with high levels of support for student learning and well-being.” Past PISA findings bear this out.

This is Weingarten’s most recent claim that she pushed for classroom instruction to resume throughout the epidemic, even though many AFT affiliates and other teacher unions were opposed to the idea.

During last month’s “Powerful Women Over 50 Event” on The Hill, the union head said that anybody asserting otherwise is “trying to sow suspicion and distrust.”