skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Friday, April 19, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Teachers' Union Leader Testifies About School Closures During COVID

play audio
Play

Friday, April 28, 2023   

Earlier in the pandemic, Wisconsin Republicans brought legal challenges to shutdowns meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Three years into the crisis, decisions regarding school closures around the United States are being revisited in Congress.

Republicans used a hearing this week to question American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. GOP members asked about her union's role in the shaping of federal guidance for reopening schools. Weingarten testified it was appropriate for them to consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She also noted that the Trump administration downplayed the crisis as it took shape, prompting unions such as hers to step up.

"When the Strategic National Stockpile unstocked, we bought $3 million of PPP for our nurses and for our teachers in schools," she said. "We ran vaccination clinics."

Republicans have focused on correspondence between the CDC and the teachers' union. The GOP believes the union pressured the government to keep schools closed unnecessarily, with learning declines for students later surfacing. Weingarten argued that the public health agency conferred with more than 50 organizations about the guidance.

Weingarten consistently told congressional members that AFT was focused on reopening schools safely. While remote learning isn't an adequate substitute for in-person classes, she said, polling of union members and parents conveyed their desire for strong protocols. A year into the crisis, she said, collective work from stakeholders accelerated progress.

"We went from 46% of schools open for in-person instruction in January 2021 to close to 97% open in May 2021," she said.

Some Republican arguments on the national level are similar to ones from the Wisconsin GOP and conservative groups tied to their cases that wound up before the state Supreme Court. The conservative-leaning court ruled that local health departments had no legal authority to close schools because of the crisis. Local officials argued the ruling hinders their ability to respond to a variety of health emergencies.

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.


get more stories like this via email
more stories
The Bureau of Land Management's newly issued Public Lands Rule is designed to safeguard cultural resources such as New Mexico's Chaco Culture National Park. (Photo courtesy SallyPaez)

Environment

play sound

Balancing the needs of the many with those who have traditionally reaped benefits from public lands is behind a new rule issued Thursday by the Bureau…


Health and Wellness

play sound

Alzheimer's disease is the eighth-leading cause of death in Pennsylvania. A documentary on the topic debuts Saturday in Pittsburgh. "Remember Me: …

Social Issues

play sound

April is Financial Literacy Month, when the focus is on learning smart money habits but also how to protect yourself from fraud. One problem on the …


Outdoor recreation added $11.7 million to the Arizona economy in 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

Arizona conservation groups and sportsmen alike say they're pleased the Bureau of Land Management will now recognize conservation as an integral part …

play sound

Across the U.S., most political boundaries tied to the 2020 Census have been in place for a while, but a national project on map fairness for …

The 2023 Annie E. Casey Foundation Data Book ranked Arkansas 37th in the nation for education, and said 56% of young children were not in preschool programs to help get them ready for school. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

The need for child care and early learning is critical, especially in rural Arkansas. One nonprofit is working to fill those gaps by giving providers …

Environment

play sound

An annual march for farmworkers' rights is being held Sunday in northwest Washington. This year, marchers are focusing on the conditions for local …

Environment

play sound

As state budget negotiations continue, groups fighting climate change are asking California lawmakers to cut subsidies for oil and gas companies …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021