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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

ABQ Bus Driver, Others Praised for COVID Response at Testy D.C. Hearing

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Thursday, April 27, 2023   

The American Federation of Teachers president was grilled in Congress on Wednesday about the union's response to the coronavirus pandemic - but managed to praise school employees' responses, including a New Mexico bus driver.

Members of the GOP-led House Oversight Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic have accused the labor union of advocating for classroom closures, long after most parents and lawmakers wanted them reopened.

Union President Randi Weingarten testified the group had a duty to protect children and their educators.

"During the COVID pandemic, teachers worked creatively, often past the point of exhaustion, to teach and reach their students," said Weingarten. "School bus drivers drove their routes to drop off meals and learning materials, like Lisa Rogers from Albuquerque."

Republicans have focused heavily on correspondence between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the teacher's union, believing the union pressured the government to keep schools closed unnecessarily.

In March 2020, COVID forced schools in 185 countries to close their doors, according to the United Nations.

Worldwide, roughly nine in 10 schoolchildren were out of school at the peak of the pandemic, causing many to fall behind in learning.

Weingarten suggested the U.S. COVID response under former President Donald Trump was chaotic and terrifying - as the seriousness of the pandemic was downplayed, jeopardizing both adults and children.

"It's not just the 1.1 million Americans that died of COVID," said Weingarten. "Black children died at almost three times the rate of White children - 245,000 children were orphaned in America."

Of 600 districts sampled by the National Institutes of Health, the vast majority offered distance learning - 91.0% - and continued to offer subsidized meal programs - 78.8% - during the closures.


Disclosure: American Federation of Teachers contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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