The president for the American Federation of Teachers took to Twitter Friday evening to announce that over 100 percent of mothers with young children left their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic to handle childcare responsibilities at home – then received a storm of criticism.
"115% of mothers with young children left their jobs in 2020 because of childcare responsibilities," Randi Weingarten said.
Those "childcare responsibilities" included being forced to stay home and watch their children when the pandemic shuttered school around the country – a move backed by Weingarten and other teachers unions.
"If you care about reversing this trend you care about accelerating reopening," quipped user Nick Pappas. "In other words, you aren’t Randi Weingarten."
"How can you possibly post this article in good conscience w/o also acknowledging the role of closed schools?" asjed Twitter user Carolyn Cohen.
Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, a professor at the New School in New York City, pointed out that open schools play a crucial role in childcare for working women.
"Childcare crisis = inextricable from school closure crisis," she argued.
The sharp increase in the number of women who left their careers could mean female economic equality has been set back by an entire generation, reported Mother Jones Friday.
But President Biden’s latest spending bill, the American Jobs Plan -- deemed an infrastructure bill by Democrats, but considered a bloated package by conservatives – also directs funding to address women’s inequality in the workplace.
A new concept known as "caregiving infrastructure," has been allotted in the $2 trillion spending bill, and addresses care needed for older and disabled persons.
In addition, the administration is expected to introduce a separate package for childcare – a federal spending concept that could change how women are able to balance raising a family and their careers.
But even as the White House attempts to push initiatives to help women get back into the workforce, school closures and hybrid programs will continue to take their toll on female employment.
Teachers unions across the nation have used the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to vie for increased benefits and financial gains for their members.
"What I believe is happening, [teachers unions] are going to continue to push with these models, these ridiculous hybrid models under the guise of safety, to negotiate more pay and benefits for their members," Jonathon Zachreson, a California parent who launched one of the largest petitions in the country to reopen schools, told Fox News.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in February that it was not necessary for teachers to be fully vaccinated to safely return to the classroom, but schools remained shut to in-person teaching.
Oakland schools last month were unable to open early for high-needs students like homeless, foster and special needs kids, because teachers reportedly refused to re-enter the classroom before the required date just weeks later.
Reports of unions advising teachers to not disclose whether they’ve had a vaccine and encouraging them to hold out on returning to the classroom, have emerged in recent weeks.
Biden has said that every adult American can expect to be vaccinated by the end of July, and some states have started offering vaccinations to kids 16 and older.
But some schools have already set up hybrid learning for the fall 2021 term – again forcing predominately female parents to figure out how to manage children at home along with their careers.
The cost of childcare has grown twice as fast as the nation’s overall inflation since the 1990’s, resulting in roughly a 13 percent decline in employment amongst mothers with young children, reported Mother Jones.
If the Biden administration is able to get childcare assistance passed through the politically divided Senate, the U.S. could potentially see over a $210 billion GDP boost, according to a 2018 study by the Center for American Progress.