The opposition to President Joe Biden’s heavy-handedness with schools is growing.
Last week, the Florida School Boards Association was among the first of such state organizations to criticize the National School Boards Association for seeking the Biden administration’s help in controlling “domestic terrorism” – that is, parents who forcibly speak out against onerous policies on masking, promoting transgender privileges and Critical Race Theory indoctrination.
But a group called Parents Defending Education notes that as of Saturday 17 state associations have now joined the chorus that is booing the national leadership for its advocacy for a federal presence at local school board sessions.
Besides Florida, according to the group, the list of those associations that have “distanced themselves” from the NSBA’s letter to Biden include; Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Parents Defending Education noted that on Oct. 11, the day Florida sent its letter objecting to the NSBA’s petition, it asked 47 state groups for their response to the letter. Hawaii and Washington, D.C., are not members of the NSBA, the group pointed out, and Virginia and Louisiana had already made public statements.
So far, the responses, posted on its website, have been critical of the NSBA.
A few common themes emerge from those states that responded to Parents Defending Education.
One is that the state-level groups gripe that they were not consulted about the letter, or that they did not consent to it.
Another is that they object to characterizing parents who challenge local school board members on policies as domestic terrorists or promoters of hate crimes. In fact, many state organizations counter that they welcome more parent attendance and input at meetings – something they have desired for years.
They also maintain that such issues with unruly parents should be handled locally, meaning by local policies and local law enforcement. The request for federal intervention is a significant overreach.
Some examples of the responses are telling:
From Biden’s home state of Delaware: “The NSBA letter to President Biden was unnecessary and quite frankly not helpful … [and] a clear overreach on the part of the NSBA and it violates the fundamental principle of local authority, upon which the Delaware public education system is founded and structured.”
Georgia: “While we look for support to our state and federal governments, we do not seek the involvement of federal law enforcement or other officials in local decisions.”
Kentucky: “The NSBA position and request do not reflect the considered opinion of KSBA. We believe strongly in the value of local control. Engaging with local constituents is a hallmark of democracy and disagreement expressed publicly is not new for school board members.”
Missouri: “We were disappointed with the NSBA letter and have clearly expressed our disagreement to them in no uncertain terms.
We absolutely and unequivocally believe in the First Amendment rights of parents and all citizens to speak freely and petition their governments. We appreciate the passion parents and others have for Missouri’s schools and the children we are serving.”
Even in liberal Virginia, some of whose counties have been the focus of many of these disputes: “Those citizens who serve on Virginia’s local school boards deserve our thanks. There is no justification for physical or verbal threats directed against them, their staff, and certainly not the students. Nor is there any excuse for disrupting a public meeting. When such unfortunate events occur, the local officials, working with local law enforcement, must deal with the situation appropriately. While we look for support to our state and federal governments, we do not seek the involvement of federal law enforcement or other officials in local decisions.”
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