US Attorney General Merrick Garland recently opened an investigation into alleged threats of violence against school boards across the country. Garland directed the FBI and the US Attorneys’ Offices to carry out the investigation, which will be looking into parents who’ve participated in protests, demonstrations, and lively debates at school board meetings.
Do the threats of violence actually exist? It’s hard to say. Certainly, the pandemic policies and hyper-partisanship of teachers’ unions and school boards over the past year and a half have led to a drastic increase in the number of parents participating in their local political processes. Multiple videos of these proceedings have surfaced online showing parents chanting, demanding to be heard, and sounding off at their local elected officials.
And rightfully so.
Those of us in politics have been begging parents to get more involved at this level for decades. Even before COVID-19, there were endless amounts of corruption and extreme politicization at that level. A silver-lining of the coronavirus seems to be that it has brought these activities into hyper-focus and animated parents to take a stand.
From the videos that have circulated online, it would appear these school board meetings have certainly become verbally heated. But thus far, those claiming threats of violence against the elected officials have produced little to back up their claims. Furthermore, if such incidents do occur, the proper protocol would be to report them to local police. This issue would, by definition, not fall under federal jurisdiction.
So why are the FBI, US Attorneys’ Offices, and the Attorney General pulling rank and getting involved? Some motivations seem obvious. The parents protesting at these events have, in overwhelming numbers, been working to stop school closures, mask mandates, and an increase in politically charged, left-wing curriculums like critical race theory (CRT)—all things that Democrats, and particularly the current Democrat administration are in favor of.
Other motivations, however, are just beginning to crystalize. Recently, a parents group called Parents Defending Education, pointed out that Garland’s daughter is married to the founder of one of the top CRT groups in the country.
According to the National Review, Asra Nomani, vice president of investigations and strategy at Parents Defending Education, wrote “on the PDE website that Panorama Education, a company that collects social and emotional data from students in grades K to 12 and was co-founded by Garland’s son-in-law, ‘will profit from Garland’s outrageous silencing of parents who are challenging its data mining of K-12 students.’”
Umm, yikes. There are so many problems here it is difficult to know where to begin.
First and foremost, no parent should be labeled a domestic terrorist for participating in their child’s education, which we all pay for and which the government refuses to let most people opt-out of. Furthermore, no person, in general, should be given such a serious label for merely participating in their political process and holding elected officials accountable.
Certainly, we can and should all take a strident stance against violence when it actually occurs, such as when US Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) was assaulted at his home by a left-wing neighbor. Notably, we never see the left speak up about incidents like this, nor do we see their leaders condemn the continued jokes by those in the media that he deserved it. It seems many people’s condemnation of violence only extends to the edges of their own party.
But regardless of that hypocrisy, elected officials incurring the verbal wrath they deserve does not meet that standard of violence, and that appears to be all that is happening here.
Additionally, the FBI is likely one of the last entities we should trust to determine what rises to the level of violence or not. This is a corrupt agency that, since its inception, has spied on citizens, lied under oath about evidence, trampled civil liberties, and led to thousands of wrongful convictions. Not only that, but they’re also terrible at solving crimes in general. The recent revelations about their failure to take action in the US Womens’ Gymnastics case early on are only the latest in a long string of failures, and their crime clearance rates remain in the gutter.
And then there is, of course, the issue of Garland’s potential financial ties to a group that is profiting off of the very materials parents are protesting against. Again, to be clear, I take no personal stance on CRT curriculum. I simply do not know enough about it. And I don’t believe in bans on materials in schools either. Instead, I believe disputes around curriculum should take place exactly where they’re currently happening—at the local level and with the involvement of parents. To shut down that important democratic conversation by labeling parents as domestic terrorists is a direct and clear attack on our representative democracy.
It also must be stated that the obvious solution to all of this is one that teachers’ unions and Democrats work vehemently against: school choice.
Libertarians and many Republicans advocate for policies called education savings accounts (ESAs). These accounts function like a health savings account, depositing money into a fund that parents can then use at their discretion on a select number of services. They can continue to reinvest in their public school if they like it. Or they can use their funds for private school tuition, homeschooling, online courses, or tutoring.
If we were to provide the education market with actual competition and options, we would not only see improved educational outcomes for all, we’d also see disputes over curriculum solve themselves. No child should be stuck in a failing school or in an educational setting that does not work for them, and parents should have a say over that instead of elected bureaucrats.
Democrats should cheer such ideas as they address the systemic racism that courses throughout our education system due to redlining policies and schools assigned by zip codes. But they work against them because they care more about the money they get from the teachers’ unions than they do the people they claim to work for.
This has been abundantly evident as the teachers’ unions worked to shut down schools and hold them hostage over unrelated wish lists for progressive policies during the pandemic. It’s also been evident as they’ve forced masking mandates to stay in the favor of the Democrat’s preferred policies—even as data shows that the rest of the western world (who never made kids mask) has similar or better rates of COVID than the US. Notably, these policies hurt children who live on the margins the most, costing them years of education they’ll likely never make up. These actions also led to an increase in domestic abuse cases during this time and exponentially increased hunger.
It is plain and clear that the actions currently being taken by our federal law enforcement agents are about one thing and one thing only: control. It’s time to fight back. Pull your kids out of their schools and use every ounce of free time you have to push for school choice at the state level. It’s time to break their grip on the education system.