Randi Weingarten, the head of one of the largest national teachers’ unions, on Saturday praised Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist’s running mate, another teachers’ union head who advocated school closures and characterized concerned parents as extremists.
The American Federation of Teachers’ chief effectively endorsed Karla Hernández-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade, the largest teachers union in the southeastern United States. Both leaders loudly opposed school re-opening efforts.
“The contrast couldn’t be more clear. DeSantis wants to fight culture wars and politicize schools. While @KarlaForFlorida wants to make sure teachers have the support and resources to focus on #WhatKidsNeed,” Weingarten said.
“Today, the state of Florida gains a candidate for lieutenant governor whose passion for and dedication to children, families and communities are unmatched,” Weingarten added in another tweet.
Hernández-Mats criticized Governor DeSantis’ push to get the state’s kids back in the classroom in April 2020, an effort which he said was supported by statistics showing that young people were rarely seriously affected by the disease.
“If you’re younger, it just hasn’t had an impact, so that should factor into how we’re viewing this. I think the data on that has been 100 percent consistent,” DeSantis said surrounding his initiative to resume in-person learning.
Hernandez-Mats slammed that statement, saying: “The notion that reopening our schools is an option because “if you’re younger, it just hasn’t had an impact” is not only completely contradictory to what we know to be the facts of this pandemic, it is dangerous for our communities at large.”
In November 2021, she acknowledged that the pandemic restrictions had caused students to stagnate if not decline academically, the Washington Free Beacon noted.
“Everyone is going through a lot. Be kind to yourself & your students. Pacing guides are arbitrary, you are the education professional that knows what your students need. If you go too fast they may fall farther behind, get demoralized, & heighten their stress. Find balance. Rest,” she replied via Twitter to a teacher who was overwhelmed by her students’ learning loss.
Hernandez-Mats also took part in the disparaging of parents around the time of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo that authorized federal law enforcement and the FBI to probe and potentially prosecute parents accused of threatening school board members.
In October 2021, she posted a political cartoon on Twitter that seemed to compare parents who protested at school board meetings over radically progressive curricula and Covid-19 restrictions to serial killers from Halloween movies.
“For any of you following the school board meetings, you know that the craziness is real,” she said. “God be with us.”
— Karla Hernández (@KarlaforFlorida) October 22, 2021