Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently announced the appointment of Randi Weingarten, the controversial head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union, to the Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council. The council, established last year, aims to provide recommendations on campus safety, security, and research priorities. Mayorkas expressed his appreciation for the council members and their expertise in supporting the mission to safeguard the American people.
Weingarten’s appointment has sparked controversy due to her role in the push to keep schools closed during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics argue that her demands for extensive safety measures and remote learning options prolonged school closures, even as other countries and regions successfully reopened their schools. The AFT’s plan included measures such as handwashing, symptom screening, smaller class sizes, and modified transportation.
Furthermore, the AFT’s influence on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in shaping school reopening guidelines has come under scrutiny. It was revealed that the AFT influenced the language used in a CDC document, including provisions for remote work for “high-risk” teachers. Weingarten’s stance on continued mask mandates for children until zero transmission in schools has also drawn criticism.
Republicans have taken issue with Weingarten’s liberal stance on addressing issues of race, sexuality, and gender in schools. Critics argue that her approach undermines the principles of education and fosters a divisive environment. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to Weingarten as “the most visible face of the destruction of American education” in a recent profile published in the New York Times.
The controversy surrounding Weingarten’s appointment and her past actions has raised concerns about her suitability for a role within the Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council. Critics argue that her previous positions have had a detrimental impact on American children’s education and well-being. The decision to include Weingarten in the council has fueled debates about the appropriate representation and ideologies within educational and security institutions.