Perhaps the most damaging of all “anti-covid” measures over the last two years were the public school closures. Children fell behind academically and socially, and multiple studies have documented serious mental health issues in a large number of children. Meanwhile, the data indisputably showed that schools were not a significant source of covid transmission, and covid is virtually harmless to children.
How did this public policy disaster come about? A just-released report by Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis suggests that the cause was inappropriate and perhaps unprecedented influence on the Centers for Disease Control exerted by the teachers’ unions, specifically the American Federation for Teachers.
Sworn testimony by Dr. Henry Walke, a career CDC scientist, indicated that CDC largely gave editorial control over its “guidance” on public school re-openings to AFT.
Documents and testimony show, contrary to the CDC’s long-standing practice of keeping draft guidance documents confidential, senior agency officials shared a draft copy of the Operational Strategy with the American Federation for Teachers (AFT) a political union with no scientific expertise but an extensive record of support for the Biden campaign. After reviewing the draft, AFT staff asked CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to install a “trigger” in the guidance that would cause schools to close automatically if COVID-19 positivity rates reached a certain threshold [Ed.: A ridiculously low covid positivity rate of three percent]. The CDC obliged, and thousands of schools across the country remained closed throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
The committee obtained emails between CDC and the AFT in which CDC gave AFT an advance look at its proposed school re-opening guidance in draft form. The testimony indicated that this in itself was unusual. Worse, the teachers’ union was allowed to suggest edits in the guidance that in more than one instance were adopted virtually word for word. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky tried to mislead the House committee about AFT’s role:
The documents show the CDC was not merely providing the Operational Strategy to AFT as a courtesy to an “end user,” as Director Walensky indicated. In fact, the documents show the White House and CDC staff engaged in extensive discussions with AFT’s senior leadership about the contents of the draft guidance and indicated a willingness to accept near verbatim edits to the Operational Strategy.
The committee minority’s report includes side by side texts, showing the changes proposed by AFT and the document as it emerged in final form, adopting the AFT’s language nearly word for word.
The teachers’ unions are the number one source of support for the Democratic Party and the most powerful political entities in the U.S. How unusual is it for political players like AFT to be given this kind of influence in formulating “scientific” guidance from the CDC? My guess is that it is unprecedented, but Dr. Walke was prevented from answering such questions by Biden administration lawyers:
RepublicanCounsel. So, if [incorporating line-by-line edits] is so uncommon, why did it happen with the American Federation of Teachers?
BidenAdministration Counsel. I’m going to instruct Dr. Walke not to answer that question.
I would be curious to know on what basis that instruction was given by the Biden administration. I don’t see any recognized privilege that could apply. It looks like pure obstructionism arising from the fact that the administration does not want voters to know that it devastated the futures of millions of American children at the behest of its political masters, the teachers’ unions.
The Centers for Disease Control is not a scientific agency, it is a political bureaucracy. That fact has become painfully evident throughout the covid fiasco. These latest revelations indicate how far gone in Democratic Party politics the agency is.