Why Vaccine Mandates for Teachers Have Been a Harder Sell Than Mask Mandates for Kids

As the pandemic has pushed the country into a debate about when and how to reopen schools, Randi Weingarten has faced the ire of parents, teachers, school boards and — of course — Fox News. The president of the American Federation of Teachers leads a union of 1.7 million educators across the nation. She’s been on the hook for pressing to keep school closed last fall and supporting mask mandates in classrooms this year. And most recently, she drew criticism from her own members when she personally endorsed a vaccine mandate and promised to work with states and school boards that are seeking to enact vaccine mandates or vaccinate-or-test requirements for teachers.

In this conversation, Kara Swisher presses Weingarten on reopening procedures and the spectacle around mask mandates in states like Florida and Texas. They also discuss the wave of legislation prohibiting teachers from discussing critical race theory in classrooms, and why this former teacher has become a lightning rod for the right.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/sway, and you can find Kara on Twitter @karaswisher.

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