If anyone had any doubts as to just how powerful teachers’ unions are and why they are, doubt no more. Republicans have just released a report revealing “uncommon” ties between the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the two largest teacher’s unions in the United States. The report also shows just how much influence the teachers’ unions had on writing the guidance for school reopening across the nation. This revealing report comes despite the CDC’s earlier claim that this type of coordination is fairly routine and never political.
According to the report, Republicans maintain that the emails they uncovered between the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the CDC, and the White House proved that the AFT’s “cozy relationship with the Biden administration’s political leadership at the CDC positioned the union to impose line-by-line edits” to the CDC school reopening guidance. The report states that this goes against the CDC’s “past practice to keep draft guidance confidential.”
This Republican revelation comes on the heels of an October report which showed in earlier emails that the National Education Association and the AFT both received a copy of the CDC guidance before it was released to the public. In those uncovered emails, it shows the conversation between Kelly Trautner, AFT’s senior director of health issues, and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. This back and forth came one day before the CDC released their school reopening guidance and in it, Trautner asks Walensky to insert the line: “In the event high-community transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary.”
After Trautner made her request, Walensky then forwarded it to Dr. Henry Walke who is the director of CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response. Once he received the email, Walke then revised the guidance based on Trautner’s suggestion. The Republican report also showed that CDC officials allowed for an early look-see of the final school reopening guidance by the AFT before the recommendations went public. The report states, “Documents and testimony show, however, that Director Walensky downplayed the degree to which CDC departed from past practice to allow AFT to affect the policymaking process. In fact, CDC allowed AFT to insert language into the Operational Guidance that made it more likely schools across the country would remain closed after February 2021.”
What makes the Republican’s report on the unions’ school reopening guidance maneuvering is that it also features new testimony from Dr. Walke in which he admits that the level with which the CDC and the teachers’ unions communicated on these issues was “uncommon.” He also stated that the CDC typically will not share its draft guidance with any entity outside the agency.
Also in the report is how Dr. Walke was not allowed to answer specific questions posed. The Biden administration’s lawyers would not let Dr. Walke answer any questions asked about why the CDC gave the teachers’ unions such a voice in the school reopening guidance. “When Republican staff asked Dr. Walke questions to that effect, a Biden Administration lawyer instructed him not to answer,” says the Republican report. “Because lawyers for the Biden Administration prevented a key witness from explaining why the CDC allowed AFT to write key portions of its guidance for re-opening schools, there are still several unanswered questions. This matter should be investigated further.”
Fox News Digital was provided a joint statement from Republican Reps. James Comer and Steve Scalise. In it, they pointed the finger directly at President Joe Biden, accusing him of causing millions of kids to suffer from school closures while he rewarded one of his biggest political donors by letting them steer the school reopening guidance.
“The facts are clear: Biden’s CDC overrode routine practice to allow a radical teachers union that donated millions of dollars to Democrat campaigns to bypass scientific norms and rewrite official agency guidance,” Scalise and Comer wrote in their statement. The damaging edits by union bosses effectively kept thousands of schools shuttered across the country, locking millions of children out of their classrooms. The Biden Administration abandoned medical science and replaced it with political science to reward one of their largest donors, harming millions of children in the process. They bypassed science to put union bosses ahead of children when it came to school reopening plans.
“Millions of Americans are still outraged at what these Washington Democrats put their children through, and all because union bosses demanded they keep schools closed longer,” the statement continued. “America’s children are suffering, academically and mentally, because of the Biden Administration enabled school closures. Republicans will not rest until we uncover all the facts and hold everyone accountable who was involved in holding back millions of children from having equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.” The close ties between the two largest teacher’s unions and the Biden Administration have caused constant frustration for GOP groups. It has even forced the AFT to defend its role in helping to shape federal school reopening policy. The teacher’s union admitted that they keep in contact with any policy-setting agency that would affect any of their 1.7 million members.
The AFT also explained that they are not the only group that the CDC works with in helping with setting policy, including the school reopening guidance, as dozens of other organizations and groups also have a voice. But the reality of the situation is that the teachers’ unions are big players on the political front. In November 2020, the AFT donated $5,000 to Biden. This was the month he was elected. The AFT also contributes a lot of cash to other Democrats as well. In December 2021, they gave $1 million to the Senate Majority PAC. Money talks and unfortunately for millions of children across the nation, money allowed the teachers’ unions to help set the school reopening guidance.