Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke out in response to the U.S. Jews who have joined in the criticism of teachers unions.
As vaccines have become more available and states have prioritized vaccinating teachers, it has become safer for adults to work in school buildings. However, close to half the country's public school students continue to attend school remotely. In some instances, that is due to teachers not wanting to return to in-person instruction.
Weingarten has gained criticism for exercising outsized force, leading some to ask why teachers unions have the power to overrule the wishes of families who want their children in school.
Speaking to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Weingarten said she has a "pointed response" for Jewish families wondering why teachers unions are resisting returning to the classroom.
"American Jews are now part of the ownership class," said Weingarten. "What I hear when I hear that question is that those who are in the ownership class now want to take that ladder of opportunity away from those who do not have it. Am I saying that everything we do is right? No. Are people in Los Angeles fearful? Yes."
Weingarten says she grounds her advocacy in Jewish values, adding that religion represents striving for a "more just place, a place that is kinder, that is gentler, a place where we teach our children that from generation to generation, we will do better, and we will be kinder, and we will be more just to the stranger as well as to the family."