National teachers’ union boss Randi Weingarten channeled Howard Dean in a maniacal speech on the steps of the Supreme Court Tuesday that went viral among critics who labeled it a “meltdown.”
Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, had co-sponsored a protest against challenges to President Biden’s student debt relief plan brought by six GOP-led states and two applicants who sued because they would not be eligible for full reimbursement under the plan.
The union boss of some 1.7 million education workers drew the ire of Twitter when she punctuated her angry speech to hundreds of demonstrators with a series of wild body movements and frantic pointing gestures.
“This is what really pisses me off,” the former president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers screamed.
“During the pandemic, we understood that small businesses were hurting, and we helped them, and it didn’t go to the Supreme Court to challenge it.
“Big businesses were hurting and we helped them, and it didn’t go to the Supreme Court to challenge it,” Weingarten continued, jumping up and down to hammer home her next point.
“All of a sudden, when it’s about our students, they challenge it! The corporations challenge it! The student loan lenders challenge it! That is not right! That is not fair! And that is what we are fighting for when we say cancel student debt!,” she shrieked, her voice cracking at times.
As the majority bloc of conservative jurists on the high court questioned the legality of the president’s proposal, Weingarten’s theatrics were dragged by Republicans online.
“No one has caused more harm to our kids than Randi Weingarten,” tweeted former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday, in an apparent reference to her championing of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Students and teachers deserve so much better than this.”
“I bet @rweingarten’s ‘brothers and sisters’ in the trade unions, who didn’t take out student loans and are now being asked to pay for this scam, are also screaming: ‘That is not fair!,’ Betsy DeVos, who served as secretary of education under former President Donald Trump, tweeted Tuesday.
“Imagine if Randi and teachers unions were this passionate about allowing kids to go to school during the pandemic,” commented Nicki Neily, the founder and president of Parents Defending Education, a right-wing educational advocacy group.
If Biden’s plan is allowed to move forward, former students earning under $125,000 a year could write off up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt. Recipients of low-income based Pell Grants would see up to $20,000 in debt forgiven. Some 16 million applicants have already been approved, and 43 million were said to be eligible.
Weingarten also appeared on MSNBC Tuesday, where she articulated her position calmly and coherently before invoking Dean, the former governor of Vermont, who pulled out of the 2004 presidential race after his screaming and gesticulating during a similarly unhinged speech was panned by political observers.
“Everything else about COVID [loans] that small businesses got, that big businesses got, the states didn’t sue. Why are they suing about individuals who really need it [loan relief]?,” she said.
“I see it as a moral issue. I mean, the Republicans are making it … the states are making it a political issue. When, all of a sudden, did college not become something we wanted kids to do?”