It should be obvious that no sane parent would ever allow ideology to supersede the proper education of her children. Yet, during the past year, it became clear that many of the nation’s school systems are indoctrinating students with politically tendentious curricula that most of the public considers . . . well . . . insane. This produced widespread protests by parents of all political persuasions to which school boards have responded with stunning hostility. The magnitude of this animus was revealed this week when the National School Boards Association (NSBA) equated parents with “domestic terrorists” and the White House directed the DOJ to investigate them as such.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued a memorandum instructing the FBI and U.S. attorney’s offices “to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district” in order to discuss “threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” What threats? Well, that isn’t clear. Garland’s creepy memo makes a vague reference to “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” that seem to have occurred primarily in the fevered imagination of Viola M. Garcia, president of the NSBA and author of a bizarre 6-page letter written to our president requesting a joint review by no fewer than five federal agencies:
NSBA specifically solicits the expertise and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center regarding the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, and facilities/campuses. We also request the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators.
Oddly, considering its length, this missive cites a surprisingly small number of minor incidents that few reasonable people would consider sinister enough to justify an intervention by the Department of Justice. In reality, most of the abusive behavior in school board meetings is directed at parents. School boards routinely mute parent microphones during public meetings and abruptly halt meetings to prevent parents from speaking. In one case, an entire school board had to resign after mocking parents during a virtual meeting. This notion that parents are getting above themselves by speaking out at school board meetings is, not coincidentally, all too similar to the position adopted by the big teachers’ unions.
For at least the last two decades, the teachers’ unions have conducted a well-financed and impressively sophisticated effort to gain dominance over local school boards. A notable example of this ongoing project came to fruition during April of 2021 in Illinois. The Illinois Education Association (IEA), a subsidiary of the National Education Association (NEA), flooded school board and college trustee elections with union-friendly candidates: “Of 132 union-backed candidates, 107 were elected.” This is neither new nor unique. Much the same thing happened in the Denver area during 2019. As Mike Rosen writes in the Gazette, “Out of 17 contested school board seats, union-endorsed candidates won 16.”
This has been going on in state after state and it has created a dangerously powerful public education monopoly consisting of teachers’ unions, their handpicked school boards, and complicit Democrats. Perversely, the parents whose tax dollars feed this three-headed monster — and their children — are its most conspicuous victims. The students are frequently regurgitated by the public “education” system, after 12 laborious years, without basic math, reading, or critical thinking skills. This is what parents are protesting. It is why Parents for Defending Education and 22 other organizations vehemently objected in writing to the egregious NSBA letter. The following is an excerpt from their response:
Your letter to President Biden is a thinly veiled threat, intended to intimidate into silence and submission the very constituents that your members ostensibly represent. Our organizations unequivocally oppose violence and find it deeply troubling that you imply otherwise.… Citizens are angry that school boards and school officials around the country are restricting access to public meetings, limiting public comment, and in some cases conducting business via text messages in violation of state open meetings laws.… We have a constitutional right to petition our elected officials.
If the Democrats believe that such sentiments are restricted to conservatives or “the cult of Trump,” they are kidding themselves. Many progressives are unhappy with the performance of the public school systems. The following is from a letter written by lifelong Democrat Briana Howard to a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia: “Schools were created to teach children to read, write, do math and use the scientific method, [Republican] Glenn Youngkin is the only candidate this election that holds these values of education true.” This was written after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe declared during a debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Howard’s rejection of this argument is by no means unique among Democrats and progressives. One self-identified progressive named Rebecca Bodenheimer writes, “I will never understand how the left in this country has decided that advocating for putting kids first is somehow right-wing.” Nor is it only white parents who come to school board meetings to protest the inclusion of Critical Race Theory in school curricula. A remarkably eloquent case against CRT was provided to a Colorado Springs school board by Derrick Wilburn, who is the black descendent of slaves. Is this really the kind of parent the NSBA wants the FBI to investigate? He certainly is a “threat,” but not in the way they mean.
Parents of all political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds are showing up at school board meetings to protest CRT, age-inappropriate sex education, anti-American history, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, ad infinitum. School boards packed by the teachers’ unions are ignoring them and the Biden administration is weaponizing the Justice Department for the purpose of harassing them. It is difficult to imagine a combination of blunders more likely to backfire. Perverting public education in a way that voters see as harmful to their children is bad policy and worse politics. Biden and the Democrats are already in enough trouble. If they persist with this pernicious nonsense, 2022 will be a bloodbath.