The country’s 2nd largest teachers union heavily lobbied the CDC to not reopen schools. While they framed their efforts as health and safety focused, there is more than meets the eye to the union’s push for indefinite remote learning. On May 1st, 2021, Americans for Public Trust leaked email correspondences between the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, these emails revealed how the bureaucracy of this teachers’ union was lobbying the CDC to roll back its school reopening guidelines. Pumping the brakes on the return to in-person learning, the AFT emails successfully petitioned the CDC to add “language” recommending that schools continue to provide “telework” and “virtual teaching opportunities” as alternatives to face-to-face education. The AFT also requested that the Center for Disease Control add a coronavirus “variant closing metric” that would renege on the CDC’s greenlight for in-person instruction “at any level of community [COVID] transmission.” By prioritizing “telework” and “virtual teaching,” while seeking to reinstate COVID lockdown measures in the event of new coronavirus variants, the lobbying efforts of the AFT basically pressured the CDC into relegating schools to prolonged virtual “distance learning” that is outsourced to private ed-tech corporations.
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