House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said Wednesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used “political science” and not “medical science” to collaborate with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to create guidance on the issue of reopening the nation’s government schools.
Appearing as a guest on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Scalise referred to a report released by Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that revealed a CDC official’s testimony confirming the nation’s top health agency coordinated with teachers’ unions at an “unprecedented” level to craft school reopening guidance, despite the CDC’s earlier claims that its coordination with the unions was routine.
'UNPRECENDENT' COLLAB: House Minority Whip @SteveScalise blasts the CDC for giving teachers union 'VIP access' to guidance on school reopenings and keeping children out during the pandemic. https://t.co/O6BUEO2SdY pic.twitter.com/b5Jr95Wuo2
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 31, 2022
Scalise told host Laura Ingraham he asked CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for names of parent groups consulted about reopening schools.
“They couldn’t give me a name,” he said.
“[What] he exposed through this is that it was political science, not medical science, that CDC used to put their guidance out on school reopenings,” Scalise said, adding:
And in fact, CDC was getting ready to come out with guidance that would have been more favorable toward opening schools. And then the teachers’ unions … were given a sneak copy of it that no one else got, that we’ve been able to find and said, “OK, what do you think about this?”
Scalise tweeted the CDC official’s testimony “confirmed CDC coordinated with unions at unprecedented levels to keep kids out of school. We now know Biden’s political leadership at CDC let unions impose line-by-line edits. It was never about ‘The Science.’”
🚨 Just exposed a CDC official’s testimony confirming CDC coordinated with unions at unprecedented levels to keep kids out of school.
We now know Biden's political leadership at CDC let unions impose line-by-line edits.
It was never about "The Science." https://t.co/Qufe24Uy1m
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) March 30, 2022
The Republicans’ report noted emails between the AFT, the White House, and CDC showed the union’s “cozy relationship with the Biden Administration’s political leadership at the CDC positioned the union to impose line-by-line edits to the Operational Strategy on at least two separate occasions, despite the CDC’s past practice to keep draft guidance confidential.”
The report detailed an exchange between Walensky and Kelly Trautner, Director of Health Issues for the AFT:
For instance, on February 1, 2021 — approximately three days after the CDC shared a draft version of the guidance with AFT—Trautner provided proposed language to the White House and the CDC that included several accommodations “to limit the risk of workplace exposure.” 11 [hereinafter, AFT Edit 1] The language was provided on behalf of AFT President Randi Weingarten.
Director Walensky replied to Trautner’s message: “I just wanted to circle back and extend my gratitude for the language you have provided us below . . . I wanted to be certain you knew it is being worked into . . . the school reopening guidance.” Walensky also stated, “[p]lease know we are listening and working hard to ensure your confidence and partnership in this endeavor.”
According to the report of the email exchanges, Walensky sent the email to Dr. Henry Walke, director of the CDC’s Center for Preparedness and Response, who then made the revisions according to the AFT’s request.
All of this collaboration was done prior to releasing the final guidance to the American public, the report noted.
The lawmakers’ report added:
Committee staff interviewed Dr. Henry Walke, a career CDC scientist and medical doctor, on February 18, 2022. Dr. Walke testified this level of coordination between the CDC and an outside organization was “uncommon.” In fact, according to Dr. Walke, the CDC does not typically share draft guidance outside the agency for any reason, even with other federal partners. This was reaffirmed during a staff level briefing with the CDC on March 2, 2022.
When Republican staff questioned Walke about the coordination between CDC and the AFT, a Biden Administration lawyer instructed Walke not to answer, the report also noted.
“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,” the report continued. “This matter should be investigated further.”
Scalise and Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said in a joint statement, “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.”
“The damaging edits by union bosses effectively kept thousands of schools shuttered across the country, locking millions of children out of their classrooms,” the lawmakers asserted. “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 the science to put union bosses ahead of children.”
After the pandemic school closures insisted upon by the teachers’ unions, their demands have continued nevertheless.
The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers finally ended their strike against “patriarchy” and “capitalism” for pay raises and bonuses that kept nearly 29,000 students out of school again for 14 days in March.
As of Wednesday, the Sacramento Teachers Association is now into its eighth day of a strike, with students having no instruction for at least six days during that period. The union wants pay raises and states it is easy for the school district to accommodate them having received ample COVID-19 funds, as KCRA Sacramento reported. That view appears heartily endorsed by Biden Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and AFT President Randi Weingarten:
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) March 30, 2022
The Sacramento district, however, says while its latest offer to the union would allow a 9.65 percent increase in compensation via one-time stipends and an ongoing salary increase, the COVID-19 funds will not be coming annually and, therefore, cannot be relied upon to grant permanent raises and salaries.
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]