February 22, 2024

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KASB won’t say if they will leave National School Boards Association

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Twenty-three states have now either pulled their membership to the National School Boards Association or are actively distancing themselves from NSBA, following the organization’s letter to the United States Department of Justice likening concerned parents to “domestic terrorists.”

Kansas is not one of them.

Purple-shaded states withdrew NSBA membership; green-shaded states are distancing from NSBA

Dr. Corey A. DeAngelis, the national director of research for the American Federation for Children, tweeted last week about the New Hampshire School Boards Association immediately withdrawing their membership, saying “NSBA’s recent actions have made our continued membership untenable.”

Missouri, Louisiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania also have withdrawn their membership.

The Sentinel reached out last week to Mark Tallman, associate executive director of advocacy for the Kansas Association of School Boards, to ask if Kansas would follow Missouri in leaving the organization.

He has not responded.

The background

On Sept. 29 of this year, the NSBA sent a letter to President Joe Biden — since scrubbed from its website — stating that “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” and that “The National School Boards Association (NSBA) respectfully asks for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation,” and asking for “assistance” from nearly every three-letter agency in the U.S. government from the FBI to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to investigate “acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials… these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

After a national backlash, NSBA “apologized.”

Kansas was one of several states expressing “concern” about the language in the letter, but simply accepted NSBA’s apology without further action, stating the “apology and promise to do better going forward was appropriate and welcome.

“KASB supports our members and their work to strengthen positive relationships with their local communities in service to student achievement,” KASB President Lori Blake said. “This relationship-building has never been more important as we strive to help our students and their families during this pandemic.”

It has since been revealed there was a level of coordination between NSBA and the Biden Administration.

Parents are becoming a powerful special interest group

DeAngelis, in a phone interview last week, noted that parents are — for the first time in decades — waking up and finding they are more powerful than they realized.

“I think what a lot of parents are seeing right now — why there’s been so much pushback — is that they’re seeing that the people in charge of the school system aren’t as ideologically aligned with them as they thought they were. And the people teaching their kids, in some cases are teaching in ways that are not aligned with their values either.

“So I think that’s part of the backlash that we’ve seen over the past year and a half.” 

Part and parcel of that has been, according to DeAngelis, that — for the first time — because of school lockdowns and remote education, parents have been able to see, not just what their children are being taught, but how.

As parents were able to watch and listen over their children’s shoulders, he says they came to realize that their “great public schools” perhaps weren’t.

“(They) started to figure out that the schools aren’t as good as they thought they were,” he said. “Either in terms of the teaching wasn’t as good in math and reading and also because there are things that they were hearing that didn’t seem like they needed to be in the classroom — including things like critical race theory — and making race part every conversation and in basic math and reading classes.”

DeAngelis said parents have really emerged this year as a new special interest group — one to which politicians would be wise to take note.

“The teachers unions overplayed their hand and have awakened a sleeping giant,” he said. “For a long time, the only game in town when it came to special interests in education were the teacher’s unions. 

“It was the teachers and the administration that fought to protect their monopoly. And now we’re seeing this new special interest group in town — the parents and I think the parents are going to win going forward because they’re going to fight for the right to educate their kids as they see fit more than anybody else is going to fight to take that right away from them. 

DeAngelis said politicians would be wise to pay attention.

“I don’t think (the parents) are going away anytime soon. They’ve woken up, and they’re not just going to sit down and shut up — no matter how many different organizations try to label them as, quote-unquote, domestic terrorists,” he said. “They’re not going to be bullied into submission. It’s only going to embolden them to push back harder and hold politicians accountable. 

“And it would be wise for politicians to listen to them going forward.”

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