Biden administrator continues to give political victories to teachers’ unions
Candidate Biden was clearly the favorite of the teachers ‘unions during the 2020 election cycle – and so far in his presidency, the teachers’ unions have won several political victories.
The Biden administration’s proximity to teacher unions is under further scrutiny after Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday announced a new crackdown on alleged threats and harassment of school officials and teachers in across the country.
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Republicans fear it could be used against the right to free speech of parents, who have spoken out particularly on school policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and on critical race theory taught to children.
Garland’s announcement came just days after the National School Board Association, which represents more than 90,000 school board members, wrote a letter to Biden asking his administration to address parental protests at board meetings school as possible acts of “domestic terrorism”.
It is the latest development in a series of policy decisions apparently influenced by teachers’ unions since Biden took office, as he had promised during his campaign.
“You don’t just have a partner in the White House, you will have a [National Education Association] member of the NEA in the White House, ”Biden told the NEA in July 2020, referring to his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, who is a member of the union. “And if I don’t listen, I’ll sleep alone in the Lincoln room.”
Biden received more contributions from teachers’ unions than any other candidate during the 2020 election cycle by a wide margin. And what is more than the monetary contributions of teachers’ unions is their reach: the American Federation of Teachers has 1.7 million members, according to its website, and the NEA has over 3 million members according to its website. his site, which is well over half of Biden’s membership. popular vote victory margin over former President Trump in November. Both unions approved Biden last March.
“Your efforts were essential to Joe’s victory,” Jill Biden told NEA and AFT leaders after Biden’s election victory in November. “Joe and [Vice President] Kamala [Harris] won’t just listen to you, they’ll make sure your voices lead this movement. They will fight for you every day, and so will I. “
Upon taking office, Biden repeatedly bowed to pressure from teachers’ unions to reopen schools for in-person learning. In May, AFT chairman Randi Weingarten revealed that the Biden administration’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “requested a language” in its guidelines for reopening schools.
The CDC guidelines released in February, although not fully aligned with union demands with the inclusion of language indicating that COVID-19 vaccines are optional for educators teaching in-person and students must being 3 feet apart instead of 6, still included text from AFT, according to documents obtained by the New York Post.
“It’s normal regulation, frankly,” Weingarten told C-SPAN on May 18. “That’s what every administration was doing. The problem with the last administration is that it didn’t.”
In September, it was reported that the Biden administration had tightened its masking guidelines after the NEA threatened White House officials to publicly release harsh criticism.
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Internal emails showed the NEA sent a draft statement to White House officials that included harsh criticism of the CDC’s hiding guidelines. But the teachers’ union eventually released a version with a much softer tone, and the CDC then clarified its guidelines to say that everyone should be masked in schools, regardless of immunization status.
Biden’s relationship with the teacher unions was also highlighted by Garland’s memo on Monday night, which ordered the FBI and U.S. prosecutors’ offices to hold meetings with officials of the federal, state and local law enforcement within 30 days to discuss ways to tackle what the DOJ described as an “increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and public school workers in our country. “
Tyler Olsen and Audrey Conklin contributed to this report.