Editor’s note: This article is republished with permission from Foundation for Economic Education.
On September 29, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked President Biden to use the full power of the federal government against parents. Their offense? Disrupting school board meetings to protest mask mandates for their children, and to question lessons tinged with identity politics.
The letter, signed by NSBA President Viola Garcia and Interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven, acknowledged that “it is vital that public discourses be encouraged in a safe and open environment, in which varying viewpoints can be offered in a peaceful manner.”1 However, when referring to meeting disruptions across the country, it pulled no punches. “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased,” it reads, “the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
To meet the threat:
NSBA specifically solicits the expertise and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center regarding the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, and facilities/campuses. We also request the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators.
As justification for the use of such power, the NSBA stated that “law enforcement officials in some jurisdictions need assistance” and that students, school board members, and educators “are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce.”
In response, members of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association voted unanimously to leave the NSBA, saying, “The most recent national controversy surrounding a letter to President Biden suggesting that some parents should be considered domestic terrorists was the final straw. This misguided approach has made our work and that of many school boards more difficult.”2 Further, “attempting to solve the problems with a call for federal intervention is not the place to begin, nor a model for promoting greater civility and respect for the democratic process.” Ohio and Missouri joined Pennsylvania in quitting the NSBA, and scores of other states have distanced themselves from the national group as well.3 . . .
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1. “Preclusion of Further Threats and Violence against Students and Educators,” National School Boards Association, September 29, 2021, https://nsba.org/-/media/NSBA/File/nsba-letter-to-president-biden-concerning-threats-to-public-schools-and-school-board-members-92921.pdf.
2. Lexi Lonas, “State School Board Leaves National Association Saying They Called Parents Domestic Terrorists,” The Hill, October 16, 2021, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/577065-state-school-board-leaves-national-association-saying-they-called?rl=1.
3. Caroline Downley, “Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania School Board Groups Leave National Association over Letter Likening Parents to Domestic Terrorists,” National Review, October 26, 2021.
4. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, “Protesters Disrupt Poway Unified Board Meeting, Cause Its Adjournment,” San Diego Union Tribune, September 9, 2021, https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/pomerado-news/news/schools/story/2021-09-09/protesters-disrupt-poway-unified-board-meeting-force-its-ag.
5. Ryan McKinnon, “Mad at a Sarasota School Board Member? Don’t Say So at Board Meeting,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 10, 2021, https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/education/2021/09/10/sarasota-county-school-board-warns-public-about-no-public-assaults-attacks/8255246002/.
6. Alia Malik, “Anti-Mask Crowd Disrupts Gwinnett School Board Meeting,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 21, 2021, https://www.ajc.com/news/anti-mask-crowd-disrupts-gwinnett-school-board-meeting/IYO7R6GHJ5DTLEFCQHER7V3GBA/.
7. Julie Wootton-Greener, “School Board Meeting Turns Contentious over COVID-19 Policies,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 12, 2021, https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/education/school-board-meeting-turns-contentious-over-covid-19-policies-2418652/.
8. Himchak, “Protesters Disrupt Poway Unified Board Meeting.”
9. See Jon Hersey, “George Floyd, Revolutions, and the Path to Justice,” The Objective Standard, 15, no. 3, Fall 2020, https://theobjectivestandard.com/2020/06/george-floyd-revolutions-and-the-path-to-justice/.
10. “The National School Boards Association Apologizes for Letter,” Oregon School Boards Association, October 22, 2021, http://www.osba.org/News-Center/News_releases/20211022NSBA.aspx.
11. Ryan McKinnon, “Sarasota School Board May Limit Public Input after Some Meetings Get Disorderly,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 20, 2021, https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/education/2021/09/20/sarasota-school-board-may-limit-public-input-after-meetings-gone-wild/8417784002/.