We already knew that official CDC guidance on re-opening schools amid the pandemic was at least partially shaped by a powerful Democratic special interest group – teachers unions. What union bosses felt about the political decision-making on this front should not have had any bearing whatsoever on the science, needless to say, yet it was a factor. A new report from the New York Post reveals specifics on this meddling by the unions, which politicized scientific recommendations. This is scandalous, and would be widely treated as such if it were a powerful Republican group injecting its self-interested agenda in order to warp CDC science:
The American Federation of Teachers lobbied the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on, and even suggested language for, the federal agency’s school-reopening guidance released in February. The powerful teachers union’s full-court press preceded the federal agency putting the brakes on a full re-opening of in-person classrooms, emails between top CDC, AFT and White House officials show. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust and provided to The Post. The documents show a flurry of activity between CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, her top advisors and union officials — with Biden brass being looped in at the White House — in the days before the highly-anticipated Feb. 12 announcement on school-reopening guidelines...“Thank you again for Friday’s rich discussion about forthcoming CDC guidance and for your openness to the suggestions made by our president, Randi Weingarten, and the AFT,” wrote AFT senior director for health issues Kelly Trautner in a Feb 1 email — which described the union as the CDC’s “thought partner.”...Emails show a call between Walensky and Weingarten — the former boss of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers — was arranged for Feb 7. The lobbying paid off. In at least two instances, language “suggestions” offered by the union were adopted nearly verbatim into the final text of the CDC document...The final CDC guidance won high praise from the AFT. “Today, the CDC met fear of the pandemic with facts and evidence,” the union said in a Feb 12 press release.
Major teachers unions have actively served as impediments to school re-openings, which would have required their members to actually show up for work and do their jobs. The harm inflicted on students – academically, emotionally and psychologically – has been well documented. The science has been clear for many months that schools were safe for in-person instruction, as experienced all over the country and the globe throughout the current academic year. The very people who were lobbying for that harm to continue for as long as possible were evidently treated as "thought partners" by the CDC. Ironically, when the CDC issued additional guidance in the subsequent weeks that would have hastened the egregiously belated opening of classrooms, the very union that had manipulated the previous guidance and praised the CDC for bowing to its agenda decided to turn around and question the science. It's hard to overstate the level of contempt that these people have earned.
Twice in the last few days, senior Biden administration officials have offered less than definitive statements when asked about schools being fully open in the fall. The president himself hedged a little bit ("should probably"), hardly speaking truth to an influential Democratic lobby, while another member of his team appeared to keep the door ajar for additional, indefensible delays:
Anita Dunn, an adviser to the President, says that schools should probably reopen in September if people continue to get vaccinated, adding that it is not absolute because "it's an unpredictable virus." #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/VzvykrW7sB— CNN (@CNN) May 2, 2021
The White House chief of staff tried to head off deserved criticism on the disgrace of closed schools by pretending that Biden had improved the situation dramatically since taking office:
This is specious. Biden has done precious little to force the hand of his monied allies in the teachers unions. The improvements and re-openings have been driven at the state and local level, and the reason Klain can boast about that 65 percent data point has very little to do with Democrats doing the right thing. The progress has been driven by red states, as relayed by conservative policy activist Phil Kerpen who sarcastically refers to Klain as America's acting prime minister:
Full-time in-person this week:— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) April 29, 2021
Trump states: 88%
Biden states: 47%
Great work Mr. Prime Minister.
Less than half of schools in blue states were open full-time as of last week. Officials in those more liberal states have hindered, and continue to hinder, the best interests of students while subordinating science. By contrast, nearly nine in ten schools are open full time, in-person in Trump-win red states. Joe Biden does not deserve one ounce of credit for this. He and his party are obstacles on this. Children are suffering and falling behind, and many of the people most responsible for that suffering are arguing that attempting to quantify their failures is "unfair" or 'traumatizing" to the students they've failed. Shameless. I'll leave you with this viral video, as lawmakers across the country seek to expand school choice amid the pathetic performance of government teachers unions during the pandemic:
Nebraska Senator Justin Wayne (D) tells his colleagues he'll vote against the school choice bill if they agree to send their own kids to public schools. pic.twitter.com/JzvS7iW6FE— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) April 28, 2021