American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten heralded the Inflation Reduction Act, including its environmental agenda, Wednesday in light of criticism for deflecting responsibility for America's struggling public school system.
"The Inflation Reduction Act is a gamechanger for working Americans who have been trying to make ends meet through a pandemic, corporate price-gouging & more," Weingarten tweeted Wednesday. "Thankfully we have senators who are still fighting for us. And who voted for it-only Democrats."
Weingarten accompanied her message with a video from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee which highlighted the major parts of the legislation, including the bill's intent to "combat climate change" with the "largest federal investment ever to target the climate crisis." Top Democrats including President Biden have said the bill would have a significant impact on carbon emissions and global warming.
Biden signed the $739-billion Inflation Reduction Act into law last month, about $369 billion of which will reportedly go toward investments in "Energy Security and Climate Change." Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act include capping out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, providing tax rebates for energy-efficient vehicle purchases, and funding more renewable energy research. The measure is intended to help schools monitor and reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, according to the administration.
"Protecting our children with investments to monitor and reduce pollution at public schools in disadvantaged communities," the White House release on the bill reads.
"Everyone deserves clean air to breathe," the Environmental Protection Agency similarly said. "With the unprecedented resources from the Inflation Reduction Act, EPA is going to reduce harmful air pollution where people live, work, play, and go to school."
"We’re going to reduce air pollution around schools and ports by replacing dirty trucks and heavy-duty vehicles with zero-emission options," the agency noted.
Weingarten tweeted her support of the legislation as students have been shown to perform poorly academically in the wake of pandemic-related school closures. Teachers unions have been on blast in recent months as research trickles in about students' academic struggles in the wake of forced at-home learning - struggles that were particularly glaring in math and reading.
"Randi's comments are a good reminder that she's a partisan leftist activist and doesn't care at all about the kids whose lives she affects," Fox News Contributor Karol Markowicz told Fox News Digital. "She's an albatross around the necks of Democrats and if Republicans were smarter they would run on this and win. She is an enemy of good education and Republicans should say so."
Reading scores had the largest decrease in 30 years, while math scores had their first decrease in the history of the National Center for Education Statistics' testing, according to the latest results.
"Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020," the Department of Education said. "This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics."
"Randi Weingarten should focus on educating kids," National Director of Research at the American Federation for Children Corey DeAngelis told Fox News Digital. "Maybe then we wouldn't have seen such disastrous results on the latest Nation's Report Card test scores. But no. Randi Weingarten put politics and power before the needs of children over the past two years. She held children's education hostage to secure multiple multi-billion-dollar ransom payments from taxpayers. She will never change her ways. She has been so drunk on power for so long she can't reverse course. The anti-parent anti-child rent-seeking behavior will continue."
Parents Defending Education Executive Director Nicole Neily said Weingarten's thumbs up for the president's legislation was par for the course and similarly said the latest test scores demand some action.
"As usual, Randi Weingarten is keeping her eyes on the prize - electioneering despite the fact that the AFT's 990s state that they don't engage in any political activity, and demonstrating how absolutely tone-deaf she is to the needs and concerns of American parents," Neily told Fox News Digital. "Last week's NAEP scores should be a wake-up call for the unions to focus their efforts on what America's students need to succeed academically; sadly, it seems that this message isn't getting through to these union fat cats."
AFT and other leading teachers unions were criticized throughout the pandemic for a slow walking of the return to in-person instruction. It's one of the reasons the Wall Street Journal editorial board said Weingarten "flunks" the pandemic. In her retort, however, Weingarten blamed Republicans for voting against the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which she said was a "vehicle" to student success. She also said "not one teacher relished" teaching via Zoom during COVID-19.
Weingarten was reelected to her eighth term as president of AFT in July. Leading conservatives said the vote proved that her union - the second largest in the country - was not going to be a "neutral" arbiter of schools anytime soon.
"I think it would take … a pretty drastic change in priorities and a pretty drastic change in its … goals that they've set for themselves," Jonathan Butcher, Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital of the chances AFT could be bipartisan. "… Based on their activities, based on the positions that they've taken, neutrality is not what they're looking for, right? What they're looking for is power."