Instead of Following Science, the CDC Listens to…a Teachers’ Union

Instead of Following Science, the CDC Listens to…a Teachers’ Union

This was all supposed to be based on “science.” Or so claimed groups like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for over a year now. It was the rationale for the draconian lockdowns. It was the reasoning behind the overreaching mask mandates. And whenever the topic of schools reopening arose, we were told that students couldn’t return to in-person learning yet because “science.”

Then, on February 12, President Biden issued a statement declaring that opening most K-8 schools by the end of his first 100 days was a national imperative. That sounds good enough, but this announcement came with a catch. President Biden said that this could “only be achieved if Congress provides states and communities with the resources they need to get it done safely through the American Rescue Plan.”

But the president didn’t stop at shamelessly pushing his disastrous $1.9 trillion “COVID relief bill” that’s jam-packed with far-left policies unrelated to the pandemic. He went on to praise the CDC as providing “the best available scientific evidence on how to reopen schools safely.”

Certainly, you would hope that the national public health agency of the United States would follow science when forming such a plan. But instead, the CDC allowed itself to be manipulated by one of the most powerful teachers’ unions in the country: the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

So much for following the science…

Emails acquired after a Freedom of Information Act request by Americans for Public Trust show that:

    • The CDC implemented at least two suggested changes from the AFT nearly word for word in its final Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools.
    • AFT Senior Director for Health Issues Kelly Trautner shared her gratitude at the union acting as the CDC’s “true thought partner.”
    • The Biden administration’s knowledge of all of this in the days before the president’s announcement in February.

Clearly the AFT is using its political clout to write CDC guidelines on schools reopening. But it gets worse.

AFT President Randi Weingarten and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky made concerted efforts to hide their cooperation from the public. And in 2020, the AFT began lobbying for specific bills that would dramatically increase the budget, reach, and power of the CDC.

Yesterday, top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Dr. Walensky demanding answers. But she has yet to respond. Meanwhile, AFT President Weingarten posted a desperate and ridiculous series of tweets attempting to rationalize the union’s behavior as “routine.”

But since when is it routine for the CDC to copy and paste nearly verbatim guidance from a teachers’ union? If this is a common practice, then everyone at the CDC should be fired immediately.

The fact is that many students haven’t been missing out on just in-person learning. They’ve been missing out on learning altogether—with one report estimating up to 3 million students across the country who haven’t experienced any formal education since March 2020.

You would think that an “American Federation of Teachers” would care about these students and their parents. But the AFT doesn’t. It only cares about protecting its own interests. And the only science the CDC is interested in…is political.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

Is Critical Race Theory Coming to a Public School Near You?

Is Critical Race Theory Coming to a Public School Near You?

They’re at it again. You would think that public school districts would learn their lesson at some point. After all, many of them turned their backs on students and parents in the wake of COVID-19. And now, those school districts are paying the price.

But apparently, they’re too committed to their agenda.

Some school districts are ignoring the science and keeping their beloved mask mandates. Some would rather keep parents in the dark about classroom curriculum. While others are trying to adopt Marxist Critical Race Theory programs in their schools. 

The latest culprit is Litchfield Elementary School District, where the school board recently published an “equity statement” along with a set of “equity goals.” The goals were presented at the school board meeting in March and crafted by, you guessed it, a “district diversity committee.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Critical Race Theory, it’s a movement that combines Marxist theories of class conflict within the lens of race. And it teaches that racism is present in every interaction. Races that have been “minoritized” are considered oppressed while those who are “racially privileged” are called “exploiters.” Proponents of the movement are good at disguising it. As Christopher Rufo from the Manhattan Institute points out, you’ll often find Critical Race Theory is present when you hear terms like “social justice,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “equity.”

Sound familiar?

Litchfield’s Superintendent Jodi Gunning claims that her school district is not adopting Critical Race Theory, but just read the first sentence of her letter to all district families:

I’m writing to update you about Litchfield Elementary School District’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work…

All the evidence is there. Thankfully, parents and other taxpayers are starting to raise their voices, causing one Litchfield board member to respond to criticism of the district’s “equity statement” inappropriately.

Sadly, this is nothing new. Activists have been trying to force Critical Race Theory or similar programs into our schools for quite some time. In fact, back in 2019, Chandler Unified School District adopted a program called “Deep Equity” (there’s that word again) at nearly half a million dollars! (It’s amazing the moments when capitalism becomes acceptable.) Parents spoke out back then, and the program was soon phased out.

But that doesn’t mean liberal educators and other members of the left won’t try again. That’s why we must remain vigilant. One way to do so is by appealing to state lawmakers. Arizona should look to follow the lead of states like Texas, where a ban on Critical Race Theory recently passed out of committee in the House, and Idaho, where a bill to ban it was just sent to the governor.

But legislative work alone can’t be enough. It is critical in the world we live in today for parents to stay informed, talk to their children, and speak up when this sort of curriculum tries to sneak its way into classrooms. There is strength in numbers. And that’s where taxpayers come in. Even if you don’t have children in public schools, you must let your voice be heard. You should have a say regarding where your hard-earned money goes. And a half-million-dollar “equity program” is probably not what you had in mind.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

Getting Back to Normal Shouldn’t Require Vaccine Passports

Getting Back to Normal Shouldn’t Require Vaccine Passports

Vaccines should always be voluntary and never be forced. But COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball last year, and perhaps its most significant contribution to the world has been an overwhelming growth in government overreach.

From the abuse of emergency orders to the senseless “mask mandates,” some government officials have leapt at the chance to dangle the carrot of “normalcy” in the faces of their citizens in order to take away more of their freedoms. Unfortunately, many have taken the bait. And now, we find ourselves at a crossroads.

The latest promise to return to normal comes in the form of “vaccine passports.” This ridiculous concept would serve as “proof” that a person has been vaccinated so he or she can have access to all the freedoms they should already be able to enjoy as an American citizen. As you would expect, Big Tech is first in line to team up with the government on such an initiative. And New York has already implemented the “Excelsior Pass” so that its citizens can “be a part of [the state’s] safe reopening.” (Given Governor Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic, what could go wrong?)

But nothing about this is normal.

It’s not normal for companies to collect the private health data of individuals. And it’s certainly not normal to force American citizens to submit to certain medical procedures as the price of doing business.

Thankfully, some of our lawmakers here in Arizona have not fallen asleep on this issue. Earlier this month, Congressman Andy Biggs introduced his No Vaccines Passports Act. This piece of legislation would prevent federal agencies from issuing any standardized documentation that could be used to certify a U.S. citizen’s COVID-19 status to a third party, such as a restaurant or an airline.

And just a few days ago, Arizona became the sixth state to ban COVID-19 passports when Governor Ducey signed Executive Order 2021-09. This prevents state agencies, counties, cities, and towns from issuing measures that require an individual to provide documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination status in to order to enter a business, building, or area to receive a government service, permit, or license. It also prevents businesses that contract with the state to provide services to the public from requiring documentation.

While this is certainly a step in the right direction, Governor Ducey’s executive order still allows for businesses, schools, and health providers to ask about an individual’s vaccine status.

That’s why lawmakers should consider additional action on this issue. One option being considered is HB2190. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Bret Roberts (R-LD11) and Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-LD16), would prohibit a company that conducts business in Arizona from refusing to provide everyday services, transportation, or admission because a person does not divulge whether they have received a particular vaccine. It would also prohibit a state, county, or local government entity from offering anyone a special privilege or incentive to receive a vaccine.

Currently, HB2190 is awaiting action in the senate, and negotiations are underway on potential amendments to the bill. Regardless of what those amendments are, Arizona lawmakers need to work toward stopping vaccine passports. They are a serious threat to our civil liberties. And while we all want to return to normal, we must remember that “normal” shouldn’t come with a price tag.

Help Protect Freedom in Arizona by Joining Our Grassroots Network

Arizona needs to have a unified voice promoting economic freedom and prosperity, and the Free Enterprise Club is committed to making that happen. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU!

Join our FREE Grassroots Action List to stay up to date on the latest battles against big government and how YOU can help influence crucial bills at the Arizona State Legislature.

School Districts That Turned Their Backs on Parents and Students Are Now Paying the Price

School Districts That Turned Their Backs on Parents and Students Are Now Paying the Price

Somehow, they didn’t see it coming. Last week, Gilbert Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in Arizona, notified 152 certified staff members that they would be without jobs for the 2021-2022 school year. And the announcement sent shockwaves throughout Arizona’s public school districts.

But why?

Parents certainly tried to warn them. They pleaded with their school districts to find safe ways to offer in-person learning. And they threatened to leave for charter schools, private schools, or homeschool if they didn’t.

But the teachers’ unions didn’t want to listen. Instead they threatened to strike if schools reopened this past fall. And many staged “sick outs” in a sorry attempt to force students to remain online. All of this despite the fact that multiple schools throughout our state had returned to in-person learning safely.

Now, Gilbert Public Schools (with others likely to follow) is learning a lesson the hard way. Parents don’t like it when schools turn their backs on them—and their children. So, they voted with their feet. And enrollment in public schools plummeted.

Gilbert saw approximately 3,900 fewer students than projected. Peoria Unified School District reported a drop in enrollment of over 2,000 students compared to last year. And a recent report from the Arizona Department of Education indicated that enrollment in public schools across the state is down around 6% while charter schools have seen an increase of 9%.

Perhaps the teachers’ unions should take an economics class. Fewer students mean fewer dollars. And few dollars mean fewer teachers.

Of course, the Democrats can’t accept this simple principle. Instead of focusing on how to serve students and parents better to boost enrollment, you’ll never guess their proposed solution. Ok. You probably did. They want to dump more money into public schools. That’s right. State representatives like Kelli Butler (D-LD28) actually think rainy day funds will solve the problem until students magically return to public schools.

But what the Democrats fail to realize is that COVID-19 enhanced the importance of school choice while providing an opportunity to revolutionize education. And parents haven’t been content to sit around and allow themselves to be held hostage by the public schools. Some went so far as to create their own solutions, including new ideas like microschools and pandemic pods.

That’s why right now is the perfect time to have a real discussion about school funding. Instead of pumping money into schools and school districts that protect their own interests first, Arizona should look to fund students instead of systems. And the state could start by expanding Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) program. This would allow parents to use their tax dollars for alternative learning solutions, giving families access to the funds needed to tailor an education that best fits their children. And it would do so at a fraction of the cost.

It’s time for Arizona to take the power away from the teachers’ unions and put it in the hands of parents and students. They deserve the best education possible education and the funding to make it happen.

Let’s give our students a solution that’s centered on them. Because if this past year has taught us anything, it’s that they are really the ones who are paying the price.

Arizona Needs to Fight Biden’s Unconstitutional Executive Orders

Arizona Needs to Fight Biden’s Unconstitutional Executive Orders

With just over two months under his belt since taking office, President Biden’s hand has to be getting tired. So far, he has signed 37 executive orders, 13 presidential memoranda, 24 proclamations, and seven notices. In his first two weeks alone, Biden had already signed more than double the number of executive orders signed by President Trump in his first month.

And isn’t it funny? After four years of lambasting Trump’s executive orders as authoritarian or an abuse of power, the left and the mainstream media have been silent about Biden’s.

There’s no saying how far our current president will go with these actions, but if the first two months are any indicator, it will only get worse. Despite Biden’s pandering calls for unity, his executive orders have been divisive and partisan

On his first day as president, Biden signed an executive order to disband the 1776 Commission, an advisory committee established by Trump to support patriotic education. This more than likely signifies Biden’s support for the 1619 Project, a “history” curriculum that has already drawn some ire here in Arizona for its claims that the United States was actually founded on slavery in the year 1619.

But Biden didn’t stop there.

A couple days later, he signed another executive order that strengthens the power of federal labor unions. He paused new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters to help tackle the “existential threat” of so-called climate change. And he instituted several policies supporting illegal immigrants. The list goes on and on…

Thankfully, a bill that passed through the Arizona House is seeking to combat these executive orders. HB2310 allows a member of the legislature to request that the Legislative Council review a Presidential executive order and recommend that the Attorney General further investigate the order. If the Attorney General determines that the executive order is illegal, HB2310 requires him to file action in federal district court.

And Arizona is not the only state taking such actions. Recently, HB1236 passed through the House in Oklahoma, where state legislators plan to review executive orders regarding the pandemic and the halting of the Keystone XL Pipeline, to name a few. In fact, just yesterday, Oklahoma joined 13 other states to sue the Biden administration for the executive order in January that paused new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

Arizona should stand with states like Oklahoma to help lead the way in fighting the overreach of the Biden administration. Now, it’s up to the Arizona Senate to do its part by passing HB2310 and sending it over to Governor Ducey’s desk. Our state should never enforce any unconstitutional executive orders. And President Biden must be held accountable if and when he signs them.

By passing HB2310, our lawmakers can make it clear that in four years Biden’s hand may not be tired, but his feet will be worn out from standing in court.

How Arizona Can Leverage Antitrust Laws to Reel in Big Tech

How Arizona Can Leverage Antitrust Laws to Reel in Big Tech

How much longer will the government allow Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Apple to run amok? Is their penchant to play speech police enough? Google-owned YouTube has a history of deplatforming and demonetizing conservative organizations. And by now, you probably know that Twitter didn’t hesitate to ban President Trump while he was still the President of the United States.

Or what about their influence on this past November’s election? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg alone gave hundreds of millions of dollars to election offices to influence local elections. And as you can probably assume, it wasn’t to ensure the process remained fair and nonpartisan.

Or could it be Big Tech’s uncanny ability to collude with each other to serve their own interests? Just ask Parler how it went when Apple, Google, and Amazon conspired to remove the new social media company from the internet—an objective that Apple still appears to be committed to.

Big Tech companies are out of control, and it’s time for the government and our lawmakers to do something about it. Consumers rightfully expect a free marketplace where all individuals and companies can compete on a level playing field. But these Big Tech companies are becoming increasingly monopolistic. And while it was good to see 46 states, including Arizona, join the Federal Trade Commission to sue Facebook for such practices this past December, more work needs to be done.

Now, Arizona can play a key role in this effort.

Since 1974, our state law has prohibited actions that seek to restrict or monopolize trade. Arizona’s government and lawmakers should be leveraging such laws to reel in Big Tech before the problem gets even worse. Thankfully, the Arizona Senate is now looking to do just that by taking an important step forward with SB1155.

The purpose of this bill is to appropriate $1 million from the Antitrust Enforcement Fund to the Arizona Attorney General to “investigate and bring enforcement actions against technology companies engaging in anti-competitive, anti-consumer, or monopolistic behavior.” This would give the Attorney General the resources needed to litigate against Big Tech companies that violate Arizona’s antitrust laws.

And what better time than right now for such litigation to take place?

After all, Big Tech companies are gaining more and more power each day. And as they do, they will wield it on an even greater scale to stop emerging competition, stifle innovation, censor speech, and feed the fire of our current “cancel culture.”

That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are right now. And it’s going to get even worse if our government and lawmakers don’t do something about it. Just think about what that could mean for conservative voices and platforms—or even the next election.

It’s time for our state legislature to act. Arizona companies and consumers are being harmed by the Big Tech monopoly. But this can all be changed if lawmakers ensure everyone—including these tech companies—abides by the American principles of free speech, fair competition, and equal opportunity.