By Larry Sand
The leader of the American Federation of Teachers is having a terrible year, and it’s only October.
James “The Amazing” Randi, who died at age 92 in 2020, began his career in the in the 1940s as an illusionist and escape artist. But eventually he became a “disillusionist” who traveled the country “exposing seers who did not see, healers who did not heal, and many others.”
Then there is the head of the American Federation of Teachers, Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten, who is actually the antithesis of the Amazing Randi. In fact, had James Randi lived, he could devote his life to skewering Weingarten, and have little time for anything else. What follows is a brief summary of distortions, missteps, and all-around blather from the union boss so far this year.
In February, Weingarten revealed that her union had engaged NewsGuard, a “leading anti-misinformation tool,” which protects and champions legitimate journalism and fact-based reporting and “will help educators and their students navigate a sea of online disinformation.”
But like so many “fact-checkers,” NewsGuard’s fact-checking is not close to objective. Nine of the 10 websites on NewsGuard’s “Ten Most Influential Misinformers” list for 2021 lean right, with NewsMax, TheGatewayPundit.com and The Federalist deemed the worst of the worst. On the other hand, “The Ten Top Trustworthy and Trending Sites” are all center to far left with NBCNews.com, The New York Times and The Washington Post ranked highest.
In March, the half-truth about her teaching reared its head again. In an article called “Choosing aspiration over anger,” she mentions, “I taught social studies and civics.” Not the first time she claimed to be a teacher. Yes, she taught history at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn for a few years, but in 2011, EAG News obtained her personnel file via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. According to the New York City Board of Education, she was hired as a substitute teacher in 1991, received a provisional license in 1993, and a certificate to serve as a substitute in 1994. Additionally, “A 1997 letter indicates she didn’t submit documentation showing she’d met requirements for licensure. No record indicates she ever served as a full-time teacher or were evaluated by a principal or other school official.”
Yet, she has never acknowledged these details or corrected the record. When she ran for president of New York’s United Federation of Teachers in 1998, her opponent Michael Shulman suggested that that she not a “real teacher,” explaining, “She worked five months full-time that I’ve been aware of, in 1992, at Clara Barton High School,” Shulman was quoted as saying in the New York Times. He added, “Since then she taught maybe one class for 40 minutes a day.”
Also in March, she stated that masking should be required until there is “zero transmission in schools.” Which is tantamount to saying that children should not be allowed to ride in cars till there are “zero deaths” of children due to auto accidents. Additionally, cloth masks have been shown to be little more than facial decorations.
Additionally, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s House Bill (HB) 1557 into law in March, which disallows or limits schools from instructing children in certain sexual matters. The heart of the new law states, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
This outraged Weingarten, who went off the rails, grousing that the law will “single out certain kids and families for derision and denigration. It is just wrong. Its intent is to divide our communities and make political hay, but it hurts children, hurts families and makes it hard for teachers to do their jobs.”
Nonsense. The law simply doesn’t allow teachers to discuss certain sexual identity issues with young children. Weingarten also inanely insisted that the law would shame “LGBTQIA+ people back into the closet by policing their identity.”
In April, Weingarten had the temerity to write a piece called, “When crisis strikes, teachers are there.” (A more apt name would have been, “When teachers strike, a crisis is there.”)
To continue reading, go to https://www.forkidsandcountry.org/blog/the-sandstorm-the-unamazing-randi/
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal Florida.