Donald Trump Jr/Instagram
Donald Trump Jr. has been widely criticised for sharing a video that sees him slating teachers’ unions in front of a gun wall backdrop.
The video, which is captioned ‘The teachers unions are out of control & are destroying our kid’s futures!’, sees the former POTUS’s eldest son accusing teachers of having ‘held up progress, prevented schools from opening [and] failed our children’.
Trump Jr., 43, then goes on to claim that ‘it seems like they’ll do anything they can to avoid going back’, referring to concerns held by some American teachers about returning to in-person classes without proper safety measures in place.
This looks and sounds like an extremist video posted from a bunker of undisclosed location pic.twitter.com/LNWmiUN96I
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 21, 2021
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backed the reopening of US schools, even if teachers had not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine, and released strict guidelines on how in-person classes could be brought back safely.
It would appear that members of teachers’ unions are keen to get schools reopened, as long as this roll-out is in keeping with health and safety guidelines.
And let’s be clear: yes you can reopen schools safely, but it's a lie that’s all reopening without precautions is safe. This is a pandemic. People have died. But 500,000 dead doesn’t seem to faze Trump or Don Jr, so why would they actually care about teachers, staff and students?
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 21, 2021
The National Education Association (NEA), the biggest teachers’ union in America, praised the CDC guidance as ‘a good first step’, before putting forward an education recovery plan setting out how schools and colleges can be opened in ‘a safe and sustainable way’:
The plan outlines the challenges that our education system must overcome if pupils are to recover their confidence, interest, and joy in learning and to make the progress they are capable of.
It provides a route towards sustainable school and college opening and away from the Government’s stop/start approach, which has resulted in schools and colleges being closed to full pupil intakes twice. We believe schools and colleges should only open when it’s safe to do so.
Teachers’ unions are “failing our children?”How?
His kids don’t go to public schools. I guarantee he can’t name a single teacher in a public school, who is not working their butt off to teacher *other people’s kids.*
Speaking of failing kids, when did he last see his?
— Kim Zimmerman (@KimZimmerman1) February 21, 2021
Furthermore, as per a poll published by The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest teachers’ union in America, more than 8 out of 10 AFT educators showed support for a return to in-person teaching with safety measures in place.
A similar margin of educators also showed approval of the Biden administration’s plan to ‘make reopening schools safely a reality’. Just 16% of teachers believed their school system had gone too far in terms of reopening, while 85% said they would feel comfortable working in classrooms if AFT safety recommendations were adhered to and funded.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
Teachers want a path to safely return to their classrooms because they understand the importance of in-school learning for their kids.
This isn’t an ‘either/or,’ it’s a ‘both/and.’ If we can implement commonsense safety protocols, we can not only open, we can do it safely and with the overwhelming support of teachers and support personnel.
Despite evidence demonstrating that teachers do indeed want to get back in the classroom, various Republicans – including Trump Jr. – have attempted to pit parents against teachers by spreading a false narrative about their supposed reluctance.
Some parts of Trump Jr.’s rant are confusing, for example when he kicks off the vid with the following loaded question:
Whatever happened to ‘follow the science’? It seems the Biden administration only follows the science when it actually suits them.
However, as noted by many of those who have watched the clip, scientific advice does support vaccinations and health and safety measures to protect those exposed to group situations, for example in a classroom setting.
What does Jr. know about science? The whole Administration downplayed science and didn’t believe it. What does Jr. know about children? When’s the last time you saw him with any of his? What does Jr. know about unions, period?
— Dolfan (@DolphinsFan103) February 21, 2021
Furthermore, many have found the backdrop of guns during a video about teachers’ unions to be in bad taste, with AFT president Weingarten tweeting:
First, in the era of school shootings, it’s in really bad taste for Don Jr. to attack teachers on front of a wall full of guns. It’s gross. It feels like a threat in this climate. And right on the heels of the Parkland anniversary.
Second, while his father did NOTHING to help us, we’ve fought for safe reopening of schools since April. His dad’s administration gave no guidance on reopening, didn’t track COIVD in schools nationally, and interfered with the CDC.
First, in the era of school shootings, it’s in really bad taste for Don Jr. to attack teachers on front of a wall full of guns. It’s gross. It feels like a threat in this climate. And right on the heels of the Parkland anniversary. https://t.co/Uauycd7Lpg
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 21, 2021
One teacher and union steward wrote:
Teachers unions are made up of teachers – to improve our working conditions. A teacher’s working conditions ARE a student’s learning conditions. Stop demonizing people who chose altruism for a career.
Bizarrely, this isn’t the first time in recent days that guns have provided a backdrop for politics. Just last week, Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert appeared for a House meeting, held over Zoom, with weapons piled on shelves behind her.
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