Since the start of the pandemic, many Americans have grown increasingly aware of authoritarian health policies being implemented under the guise of public safety. When faced with the facts, critical thinkers could point to the expansive federal bureaucracy or now-infamous Democratic governors issuing top-down executive orders that have decimated the livelihoods of millions across the country. Schoolchildren, the hopes and dreams of America’s future, were often shuttered out of classrooms for months. Now, insider emails acquired by Fox News suggest that a much more sinister group has been handling the reins of education for more than a year – teachers unions.
Watchdog group Americans for Public Trust obtained several emails from a Freedom of Information Act request between the National Education Association (NEA) teachers union and White House officials. These emails originally contained the union’s harshly phrased condemnation of the CDC’s announcement on May 13 that fully vaccinated Americans would no longer need to wear masks indoors and outdoors. The union’s memo was sent directly to the White House, while a much more submissive statement was later published officially and publicly, calling for the CDC to review its guidelines. In the leaked emails, White House Director of Labor Engagement Erika Dinkel-Smith claimed that she had “stopped the NEA from releasing a critical statement that had called for immediate clarification from the media.”
Following ongoing discussions between the White House and the teachers union, CDC director Rochelle Walensky was also put into direct contact with NEA president Becky Pringle. The next day, the NEA’s aforementioned meek response to the new CDC guidelines was released. Finally, with all involved parties in agreement, the CDC publicly revised masking guidance on May 15 in line with the union’s wishes, suggesting that everyone should continue to wear a mask at school, regardless of their vaccination status. This sudden shift confused many Americans, pleasing Democratic governors who had vowed to oppose the CDC’s original guidelines published on May 13.
Since the start of the pandemic, teachers unions have maintained almost uniform opposition to the country’s gradual return to in-person schooling no matter the circumstances. In cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, teachers unions successfully prevented local leaders from reopening schools for months compared to other school districts in the state. This influence has proven not just enough to control local policy – but has stretched to federal agencies and the Oval Office itself. Perhaps never before has the White House appeared so submissive to the demands of unions. Even ultra-liberal media outlets commentated on the stark difference between the Biden administration’s rhetoric on trying to reopen schools compared to teachers unions’ resistance.
President Biden’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had a very public, notorious fallout with teachers unions over Arne Duncan’s appointment to Secretary of Education. Perhaps trying to avoid a similar conflict, Biden has tried to navigate both the interests of these unions and his own desire to seem victorious over the pandemic by bringing students back to school. Appearing to beat COVID was never just about following the science, so it’s no wonder organizations designed to safeguard American education have instead chosen self-interest over the wellbeing of the country’s future.
Read more from Jose Backer.