Emails show teachers' union flexed its muscles and influenced the CDC on school reopenings.
· May 2, 2021 ·

It's science, it's just not science science.

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.

Sure, you could point out that the CDC is an agency staffed primarily by scientists, while the American Federation of Teachers donates a lot of money to the Democratic party, but what you really need to focus on is this old man yelling at the sky.

Feel better?

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. We knew early on who was pulling the strings.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has sought to minimize the scope of a CDC study that identified schools as low-transmission zones for the coronavirus and has brushed back CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for saying that the science supports the notion that teachers can return to classrooms before they've been vaccinated.

When your press flack can override your lead scientist, it's not a big leap to think that maybe, just maybe, there's some political meddling going on here.

However, the emails that were the result of a Freedom of Information Act request by "Americans for Public Trust" provide a telling window into the extent of the stranglehold the teachers' unions have on the Biden administration, and therefore, your children's education.

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.

Looping in the White House is not a professional courtesy. It's a permission slip. Nothing got done without their approval.

"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."

A teacher's union, the sole purpose of which is to look out for the interests of teachers, is a "thought partner" in what was purported to be a science-based study on how to safely return our kids to school.

"We believe our experiences on the ground can inform and enrich thinking around what is practicable and prudent in future guidance documents."

Curiously, there doesn't seem to have been any parents brought in as "thought partners" who could "inform and enrich thinking around what is practicable and prudent."

I believe they were told to sit down, shut up, and...

"We were able to review a copy of the draft guidance document over the weekend and were able to provide some initial feedback to several staff this morning about possible ways to strengthen the document," Trautner continued."

"Strengthen." I've lived in this town a long time, and I still marvel at the use of language.

How, exactly, did they "strengthen the document?"

By making things more advantageous for the teachers, based on the science of "because that's what we want."

In fact, and this is more common than anyone cares to admit, they basically wrote sections of the final document.

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.

With the CDC preparing to write that schools could provide in-person instruction regardless of community spread of the virus, Trautner argued for the inclusion of a line reading "In the event of high community-transmission results from a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, a new update of these guidelines may be necessary." That language appeared on page 22 of the final CDC guidance.

The science said it was safe. The AFT said it wasn't.

The AFT language prevailed.

The AFT also demanded special remote work concessions for teachers "who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk for … COVID-19," and that similar arrangements should extend to "staff who have a household member" with similar risks. A lengthy provision for that made it into the text of the final guidance.

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.

The "fact" that they control the administration, based on the "evidence" of check stubs.

As you might remember, Walensky got grilled on this by Jake Tapper of all people.

"Can you point to any scientific reason for students in the United States not to return to in person classes tomorrow?" Tapper demanded several times.

She never answered the question.

"I can assure you that this is free from political meddling," Walensky said when the guidance was released.

By all appearances, Walensky is a person of some substance.

In 1991, Walensky received a BA in biochemistry and molecular biology from Washington University in St. Louis. In 1995, she received an MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. From 1995 to 1998, she trained in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Walensky then became a fellow in the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women's Hospital Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program. In 2001, she earned an MPH in clinical effectiveness from the Harvard School of Public Health.[6]

And here she is, debasing herself for... what? Power? She has none, she's doing what she's told. Status? Fame? I've never understood the motivation.

And now my favorite part: The statement intended to be reassuring but really just makes things worse.

The CDC also insisted such conversations are routine.

"As part of long-standing best practices, CDC has traditionally engaged with organizations and groups that are impacted by guidance and recommendations issued by the agency.

This should not be routine, not this kind of "engagement."

This wasn't about getting some insight on groups that are impacted. This was about a powerful political interest group putting the brakes on schools reopening contrary to the science which demonstrates it's safe. Even Walensky, in her personal capacity, knows this to be true.

The cost?

Just our kids' education.

Ready to join the conversation? Subscribe today.

Access comments and our fully-featured social platform.

Sign up Now
App screenshot

You must signup or login to view or post comments on this article.