Critics slam CDC after teachers union influences guidelines: 'Based in politics and not science'
Reason Foundation director of school choice Corey DeAngelis weighs in on the teachers unions trying to lobby the CDC to delay schools from reopening amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation's most powerful teachers' unions, are under fire after a report that the union influenced CDC guidelines on school reopenings.
"This really confirms what we knew all along, that the whole school reopening debate has been more to do with political partisanship and power dynamics than safety and the needs of families," Reason Foundation's Corey DeAngelis told "Cavuto: Coast to Coast" on Monday.
DeAngelis cited studies including one he co-authored finding a correlation between strong teachers' unions and closed school buildings.
"We found, looking over 10,000 public school districts across the country, that places with stronger teachers unions were statistically, substantially less likely to reopen their doors for in-person instruction, even after controlling for demographics in the area, politics in the area, Covid risk in the area," he said. "We found there was no statistically significant relationship between the reopening decisions and the risk of the virus in the area."
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten speaks at a news conference to unveil congressional Democrat's "A Better Deal" economic agenda on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein - RC1B934A3640
Communications obtained by the New York Post through a Freedom of Information Act request by conservative group Americans for Public Trust showed numerous emails between top CDC officials and the union just days before the administration released school reopening guidelines in February. The lobbying efforts were a reported success as the Post found at least two instances when "suggestions" were used nearly word-for-word within the CDC’s guidelines.
The CDC had been prepared to allow in-school instruction regardless of transmission rates. But at the suggestion of the union, the guidelines were adjusted to include a provision that said, "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."
The union further requested that teachers be granted remote work access for those "who have documented high-risk conditions or who are at increased risk." Similar provisions were included for "staff who have a household member" that is considered high risk to the virus.
DeAngelis wasn't the only person unhappy with the news.
"The CDC bent over backwards to incorporate the demands of the special interests, namely teachers unions. Is this science? If this is the case, why did the CDC not also take input from parents in helping guide their recommendations?" Laura Zorc of Building Education for Students Together told Fox News.
"At the expense of our children’s future, teachers unions and the CDC are playing politics with our children. Parents are seeing through the hypocrisy. We are standing up demanding that they stop using our kids as hostages while they negotiate their endless demands."
"How does the CDC remain a trusted health source when their recommendations are clearly based in politics and not science. They harmed children simply to make AFT and NEA donors happy," former Republican advisor Rory Cooper wrote on Twitter.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten hit back against the New York Post on Sunday.
"Once again the NY Post has a hit piece out on AFT - this time that is trying to make everyday advocacy look nefarious," Weingarten wrote on Twitter.
"Our job is to advocate for our members,students [and] communities. And in this pandemic we have fought for safety [and] resources 24/7.This article describes basic advocacy. It's not mysterious or clandestine. It’s routine. And this CDC wants feedback from stakeholders including teachers," she continued.
After spending millions to support President Biden and other Democrats in the 2020 election cycle, teachers unions are finding Biden to be a reliable ally as they fight back against school districts and parents who want them to return to classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers unions ramped up their political spending, increasing from $4.3 million in 2004 to $43.7 million in 2020, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The teachers unions also lean heavily Democratic in their donations, including the American Federation of Teachers, which gave $2 million to pro-Biden super PAC Priorities USA Action. The American Federation of Teachers gave more than $14 million to liberal groups between 2019 and 2020. The National Education Association, another teachers union, gave more than $23 million to liberal groups during the same time period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Fox News' Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.