A Politico report was rejected as “sheer hypocrisy” on Monday for suggesting President Biden and teachers unions are making efforts to reopen schools as the U.S. recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Biden administration and teachers unions are mounting a campaign to return American children to classrooms five days a week,” Politico tweeted, with a link to its report.
Readers wondered if the outlet was living in an alternate universe. Teachers unions like the powerful American Federation of Teachers, a strong voice in the Democratic Party, have slow-walked kids’ nationwide return to the classroom, but the brief item in Politico’s Morning Education ignored that aspect of the story.
“Is the plan called, ‘get Democrats and teachers unions to stop preventing the immediate return to school?’” Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway asked of the Politico headline.
What Politico fails to mention, critics noted, is that unions stood in the way of full school reopenings. Before he took office, Biden pledged to get most schools open by his 100th day in office.
But by February the administration seemed to move the goal posts when Press Secretary Jen Psaki said schools would be considered “open” if they had in-person learning at least one day a week, although Biden would later call that remark a “mistake.” Facing infuriated parents, Biden was accused of bowing to the teachers unions because he didn’t want to lose their political support.
To credit Biden and the unions for urging schools to reopen is, according to The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez, “sheer hypocrisy.”
Last month, the conservative group Americans for Public Trust discovered, via the Freedom of Information Act, that the ATF had heavily influenced the CDC’s guidelines on the reopening of schools.
The New York Post obtained the communication and found that the CDC had adopted some ATF language nearly word-for-word. For instance, the CDC had been prepared to reopen schools regardless of transmission rates, but at the AFT’s urging they added the provision that read, “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.”
Critics were outraged that the AFT had such pull, but President Randi Weingarten claimed that the AFT’s communication with the CDC was simply “everyday advocacy” and dismissed the New York Post report as a “hit piece.” Other education leaders, like the Reason Foundation’s Corey DeAngelis, saw it differently.
“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,” DeAngelis reacted at the time on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.”