Lauren Moye, FISM News
Democrats continue labeling conservative parents who wish to be involved with the quality of their children’s education as extremists, despite the strong backlash and even losses at the poll.
Polarizing politics over abortion, gender dysphoria, critical race theory, and even COVID-19 pandemic measures have sparked parental involvement in their local education board meetings and political policies. The outspoken opposition to woke philosophy has drawn criticism from Democrats and left-leaning groups.
Just this week, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) released a new ad that called parents “extremists” for speaking up at board meetings. This right of free speech constitutes an “attack” according to the NJEA.
The NJEA later attempted to walk back the harsh accusations leveled at parents, saying that parents were never “referred to in any negative” manner. Instead, they were only calling a very specific and minority group of parents “extremists.”
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that parents have received a halfhearted apology after being called violent by an education group.
In September 2021, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to investigate parents as an “immediate threat” for their stances against some curricula, social policies, and mask mandates. The NSBA later apologized but did not take action against group leaders who approved the original letter.
The resulting controversy should have been a warning to Democrats. Instead of distancing themselves, though, the blue party has instead doubled down on rhetoric that seeks to redefine concerned parents as extreme.
That’s because it’s what the leadership of the party truly believes.
After all, Michigan Democrats publicly stated parents shouldn’t control their child’s education because they weren’t clients of the public schools.
Meanwhile, FBI whistleblowers alleged to two Republican lawmakers that the FBI did investigate some parents as domestic terrorists despite U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s sworn statement that they were not. This shouldn’t be shocking when evidence shows that the Biden Administration’s education secretary, Miguel Cardona, solicited the NSBA letter.
These attacks on parents have taken many forms over the past few years.
A Virginia school board banned parents from attending meetings after 600 people showed up to protest a transgender inclusion policy that would allow biological males in female bathrooms and locker areas. One parent was arrested at this meeting. However, the policy in question led to the rape of his daughter. A court later ruled that the board violated the law by banning parents.
Other school boards have charged outrageous amounts of money, $1500 and up, to fulfill freedom of information requests filed by parents who wanted to provide oversight in their local school systems.
The most progressive school districts have created transgender policies that allow students to declare a new gender identity and name that is even used on official documents in some cases. Parents do not have to be informed of their child’s gender dysphoria.
In all these cases, parents lead the fight to push the policies back out of the school. Parents have sued school districts in Iowa and Wisconsin over “don’t tell parent” transgender policies. Pennsylvania parents pushed back against indoctrination lessons aimed at first graders.
Democrats not only will refuse to distance themselves from rhetoric that labels these parents as radicals, but they will continue to repeat it to intimidate parents into submitting to philosophies that violate their convictions and freedom of expression.
However, there is a cost.
A Gallup poll from this summer found that only 28% of Americans have a “great deal of confidence” in public school education. 41% of parents would grade their local public school system as a ‘C’ or lower while 2 million students have been moved to homeschool, private, or charter schools over the past two years according to a recent Education Next poll.
As school choice policies gain traction among Republicans, Democrats, and liberals alike, parents are increasingly looking to make themselves heard.
New Jersey Democrats should be concerned if the 2021 Virginia governor election, where Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin defeated his rival Terry McAuliffe after the Democrat condemned parental involvement in education, is any indication of national public opinion on the issue. In the same year, New Jersey voters narrowly voted in incumbent Governor Phillip Murphy for another term over his Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli with a vote of 1,339,471 to 1,255,185.
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has risen in popularity since the start of his anti-woke campaign that includes battling Disney World executives and signing the Parental Rights in Education Bill, erroneously called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. From an approval rating in the mid-40s in 2021, DeSantis now enjoys the mid-50s. He is also the second most popular Republican politician behind Trump.
CNN analysts aren’t sure why DeSantis has gained in popularity, but they do suggest the “national political environment has turned in favor of Republicans and against Democrats.”