The people who run America’s public school boards are finding that democracy can be loud and raucous – which is not quite what they signed up for.
So they’ve asked the nation’s dictator-adjacent president to help quash the hooligans in the hinterlands – read conservatives – who are publicly and unapologetically complaining about draconian COVID mandates, permissive transgender policies, ahistorical critical race theory indoctrination, and smut in school libraries.
On Thursday, the National School Boards Association, which reportedly represents 90,000 members of 14,000 school boards across the country, wrote President Joe Biden that local education officials are facing a “crisis” and being menaced by “domestic terrorism.”
“America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” the group’s President Viola Garcia and interim Executive Director Chip Slaven wrote in the letter.
“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” they argued.
“The National School Boards Association,” they added, “respectfully asks for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.”
Undoubtedly, this president will be happy to oblige – based on a few examples:
Biden directed the Pentagon to investigate and perhaps expel conservative troops because of their political leanings.
He promised a “whole of [federal] government” approach to undermining Texas’ new abortion law.
He reinstated a moratorium on rent collection after an adverse U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared such a policy unconstitutional.
He ordered a national vaccine mandate, under the threat of punishment to companies, for the employers of 80 million Americans.
He pledged to go around Republican governors who resisted his COVID mandates.
“Local school board members want to hear from their communities on important issues and that must be at the forefront of good school board governance and promotion of free speech,” Garica and Slaven asserted in the letter.
Yet that disingenuous language comes just before the pair ask Biden to sic the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Secret Service, and even the U.S. Postal Inspection Service on those who reject or even question school boards’ policies.
There “must be safeguards in place to protect public schools and dedicated education leaders as they do their jobs,” the letter stated.
The association also wants the Biden administration to “investigate, intercept, and prevent” hostile attitudes and reactions by using “existing statutes, executive authority, interagency and intergovernmental task forces, and other extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of our children and educators, to protect interstate commerce, and to preserve public school infrastructure and campuses.”
To bolster their case for federal intervention, Garcia and Slaven, who again represent 90,000 people serving on 14,000 boards, report roughly 20 – yes, 20 – instances of “threats, harassment, disruption, and acts of intimidation.”
So what kind of incidents?
According to the letter, some people have been arrested for being disorderly, and in at least one incident a person was injured.
Yet their list also include a Michigan protester who “yelled a Nazi salute” to gripe about a masking mandate, while at a separate meeting in Michigan, another person “prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.”
In places like Washington state, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Tennessee, school boards “have been confronted by angry mobs and forced to end meetings abruptly,” the letter notes. “A resident in Alabama, who proclaimed himself as ‘vaccine police,’ has called school administrators while filming himself on Facebook Live.”
In Ohio, an angry letter writer called a board member a “filthy traitor,” and dubbed the entire board “Marxist.”
“These threats and acts of violence are affecting our nation’s democracy at the very foundational levels, causing school board members – many who are not paid – to resign immediately and/or discontinue their service after their respective terms,” Garcia and Slaven maintained.
“Further, this increasing violence is a clear and present danger to civic participation, in which other citizens who have been contemplating service as either an elected or appointed school board member have reconsidered their decision.”
“While local and state law enforcement agencies have worked hard to protect public school officials and restore order, some jurisdictions need assistance, especially around monitoring threat levels,” the letter added.
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