Back in October, after months of parent-led protests at school board meetings across the country, the National School Board Association (NSBA) sent a letter to the Biden Administration asking it to direct federal law enforcement officials to treat concerned parents as domestic terrorists under the Patriot Act. Attorney General Merrick Garland was more than willing to do so; after all, the educational establishment is one of the pillars of the Democratic Party. When he had to testify about this new policy before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Garland screwed up so badly that the NSBA quickly offered an insincere apology as many of its members moved to distance themselves from the organization.
At the time, I characterized this farce as the educrats unsuccessfully attempting a “Hail Mary” pass to reassert authoritarian power over their domain. Recent developments have shown, however, that I along with millions of Americans may have been misled about the nature of this debacle.
According to email traffic obtained by Parents Defending Education, Kristi Swett, who currently serves as secretary-treasurer of the NSBA, told fellow board member Marnie Maldonado that Chip Slaven, who was serving as the interim executive director of the organization in October, had “told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cordona” [sic]. This statement implies that the initial letter dated September 29th was not an independent statement based on the NSBA’s misguided concern for the safety of its members but the brainchild of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
When pressed by the Washington Free Beacon, a Department of Education spokesman denied that Secretary Cardona had solicited a letter from the NSBA while admitting that “the Department routinely engages with students, teachers, parents, district leaders, and education associations.” Secretary Cardona himself denied the implication during an interview on “CBS Mornings” on Wednesday. To date, the NSBA has offered no further explanation of the matter.
If Secretary Cardona did indeed solicit or even just encourage the NSBA’s letter, then this rabbit hole goes down much further than previously thought. We’re no longer talking about the educational establishment seeking a constitutionally dubious favor from its allies in the White House; such corruption is common currency in Washington. Instead, we have a high-ranking member of the Cabinet seeking a pretext to stymie the free speech of concerned parents regarding leftist sacred cows such as critical race theory and transgender policies. In doing so, the Biden Administration has secretly declared war on these parents using its allies among the educrats as cover.
If this is the case, then Secretary Cardona has launched a preemptive strike based on faulty intelligence. Apologists for the educational establishment have tried to frame parent protests as the result of right-wing (aka “white supremacist”) activism. Yet if this were the case, why would reliably blue Loudoun County, VA be the epicenter of the movement? Why would support for school choice, which would effectively gut the educrats’ power, be increasing among registered Democrats in recent years? For that matter, why would Glenn Youngkin have won the Virginia governor’s race after Terry McAuliffe foolishly said the quiet part out loud about how Democrats view parental rights in education?
The fact is that school Covid policies, remote learning, CRT, and the other controversies surrounding public education have angered not only Republicans, but many independents and moderate Democrats who are now falling victim to rhetorical and legal “friendly fire.” As in so many other areas of public policy, the Biden Administration has blindly embraced the far Left in education to the detriment of the nation as a whole.
Even if Secretary Cardona is ultimately responsible for the USBA letter and the DOJ’s response, there is little chance that President Biden will hold him accountable for it. After all, Merrick Garland has yet to be disciplined for his egregious overreach in this matter. In any case, the Secretary of Education has completely misread the nature of his enemy. By doing so, he has declared a war that he and the president he serves simply cannot win.