October 8, 2021

There’s more news in the struggle over who controls our schools: government or parents?

We wrote earlier this week about Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s declaration that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Now – Biden’s U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has stated that he is getting the federal government and the FBI involved in investigating protests against school boards dealing with issues like Critical Race Theory, wokeism and mask mandates.

The National School Board Association (NSBA) earlier had asked for assistance when parents began to question the actions of school board administrators and education leadership at school board meetings on these. The NSBA sent a letter that asked for the federal government’s involvement in dealing with the “immediate threat” of violence from parents in these situations.  The NSBA characterized the incidents as ‘the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.

Garland’s response was a memo that directed federal authorities to “use its authority and resources” to address the matter, saying “In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”

This federal mobilization against concerned parents based on accusations from education leaders that compares the parents’ apprehension to domestic terrorism is shocking.

State Attorneys General from across the country sounded off, outraged at Garland’s inflammatory memo.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita:  “It seems as if Attorney General Garland is following the playbook of a partisan administration and weaponizing both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI by threatening parents who simply do not want their children to be indoctrinated by a Marxist ideology that divides children into groups of oppressed and oppressor while simultaneously teaching our students that America is fundamentally evil.”

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt:  “Biden’s Department of Justice is weaponizing its resources against parents who dare to advocate for their children. This dangerous federal overreach imposes a chilling effect on free speech by criminalizing dissent….I will always advocate for parents and will continue to push back against unprecedented federal overreach.”

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch:  “Parents have a right to be involved in their children’s educational interests and should not be silenced. I urge General Garland to allow political speech to flourish and give local governments and local law enforcement room to handle these matters.”

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Pederson:  “Public debate at a school board meeting is a vital exercise of basic First Amendment rights at the local level. What happens in public schools is critical to shaping our nation’s young people, and parents have a constitutional right to address those matters publicly.”

There’s more quotes here.  But the key thing is that we recognize the chilling fact that our federal government is using all the authority and resources in its power to muzzle parents concerned about the education of their children.

There are so many things wrong with that.  The threat of that kind of over-reach of power – the FBI – going against these parents appears to violate their freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion in some instances.

Not to mention the basic premise that a parent is best equipped to guide and direct the beliefs of their children and to determine how they should be educated and what they should be taught.

And then there’s the fact that we the taxpayers pay taxes to fund the education of our children – and the education establishment should be listening, not ignoring parents.

The action of parents standing up to oppressive government in the form of education coercion is growing into a fundamental struggle that could impact other areas of our society beyond education.  The free enterprise system is under attack in our schools as well.  Business interests take note.  This action is not something just dealing with parents, it could touch us all.

At a time when fundamental principles seem to be falling away all around us, to see this kind of heavy-handed reaction from the Biden administration only creates more anxiety among people already concerned over the COVID pandemic’s impact on government power.

It makes you wonder what our state leaders’ reaction is to U.S. Attorney General Garland’s action.  Where does Attorney General Stein stand?  Governor Cooper?  Do they think parents should not have input in what their children are taught in school?  And do they think the FBI should be going to school board meetings?