Lummis: Biden & Teacher’s Union ‘Colluded to Target Parents’ Who Opposed Critical Race Theory
Senator Cynthia Lummis recently partnered with Senator John Barrasso, Senator Marco Rubio, and 8 other U.S. Senators to draft a letter calling on Inspector Generals for both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding alleged "collusion" between President Biden and the National Education Association.
On her Facebook Page, Lummis wrote that "The Biden administration and the nation’s largest teachers’ union appeared to have colluded to target parents who questioned radical school policies. It also looks like they attempted to pressure social media companies to censor parents’ social media profiles as well. Senator Marco Rubio and I are calling for Inspector General investigations at both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice into this matter. We need answers."
On September 29, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden that requested federal law enforcement agencies to intervene "to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation."
Attorney General Merrick Garland responded to the letter 5 days later and directed the FBI to work with U.S. attorneys throughout the country to call meetings with federal, state, and local leaders in order to talk about strategies to combat threats to school personnel.
The letter, a 6-page document, was signed by Chip Slaven, the Interim Executive Director and CEO of the NSBA and Viola Garcia, the President of the NSBA.
According to The Washington Post, Slaven told the White House he circulated the letter to the board's four officers before he sent it. However, Slaven did not allow the entire board to see the letter before he sent it to the White House.
"The reaction was swift and fiery, with board members and state affiliates criticizing both the tone and the fact that they hadn’t been offered a chance to vet it before it was sent," The Washington Post Wrote. "'Did anyone consider the impact this might have on members in this highly polarized climate?'” Sally Smith, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, wrote in an email.
Critics and even supporters of the organization said the letter was a bad move and that it potentially did the exact opposite of what it was trying to accomplish.
"If the school board association’s goal was to tamp down conservative parent protests, it had the exact opposite effect, galvanizing a movement that coalesced last fall around the idea of parental rights," The Post wrote. :The letter shifted the focus away from some frightening threats and decidedly aggressive behavior to a defiant defense of free speech and local control."
The NSBA apologized for the letter and said it would conduct a "formal review," but The Washington Post reports that, already, "Nineteen mostly GOP-led states have withdrawn from the association or promised to when this year's membership expires."
While all of this was going on, another organization, the National Education Association, wrote a letter to tech leaders Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to, in their words, "prioritize the safety of people over profits."
In the letter, NEA President Rebecca Pringle wrote that "Our schools are the center of communities in every corner of our nation. They should be a safe place for every single student, educator, and staff member to thrive and learn. And yet, online “trends” and false information that have spread like wildfire throughout social media platforms - from stealing school property and hitting school staff, to conspiracy theories on curriculum and coronavirus protocols - have helped create a culture of fear and violence with educators as targets."
Pringle referenced the apparent outrage of parents who believe courses teaching Critical Race Theory do not belong in public schools. These thoughts, as well as opinions regarding COVID-19, have turned many school board meetings into veritable open mic nights for angry parents. Some of these instances have turned violent.
"Take for example, the alarming growth of a small but violent group of radicalized adults who falsely believe that graduate level courses about racism are being taught in K-12 public schools because of misinformation spread on social media," Pringel wrote in her letter. " And there are another small yet vocal group of extremists who are putting the safety of our children, educators, and families at risk over the notion that wearing a mask is in infringement on personal liberty. The speed and reach of these lies that are manipulating so many of our citizens would not be possible without the use of social media platforms.
"These radicals have attacked educators from California to Texas over wearing a mask. They made a nazi salute in Illinois at a school board meeting discussing COVID protocols. They brought zip ties to try and abduct a principal in Arizona for following coronavirus quarantine policies. They doxxed a teacher in Vermont, accusing him of teaching “anti-American” ideas. These are just some examples of menacing behavior spreading across the country. This rising tide of violence must be stopped before even more educators get harmed."
Given the controversy surrounding the NSBA letter, and the timing of the letter from the NEA, Senators Lummis, Barrasso, Rubio and more are accusing the White House of "colluding" with the organizations.
"We write with regard to the latest revelation that the nation's largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), on October 8, 2021, sent a letter to social media companies requesting that they remove 'propaganda' and 'disinformation' posted online by parents who were protesting school policies regarding COVID-19 and Critical Race Theory," the letter from Lummis and Co. stated.
It continued, saying that "There is reason to suspect the NEA worked with Biden Administration officials to write this letter after email evidence revealed that the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education colluded with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to produce a letter sent to President Biden a few days earlier, on September 29, 2021."
Lummis said that a parent group called 'Parents Defending Education' obtained NSBA internal emails through the Freedom of Information Act.
"These documents show that last September, the NSBA coordinated directly with Secretary Cardona in writing a letter that characterized parents' concerns about COVID-19 regulations, school curriculum, and other school policies to 'domestic terrorism,'" the letter wrote.
It continued, saying that "While we remain concerned that parents whom are peacefully protesting continue to be threatened by the failure of the Attorney General to rescind his memo, we are equally disturbed that the NSBA and NEA used taxpayer dollars - collected as dues from member schools - to carry out politically motivated attacks against concerned parents at the direction of the Biden Administration."
The letter stated that "These actions must be investigated as threatening and intimidating parents should never be tolerated. Parents deserve to know the complete truth on this matter. Just because someone disagrees with you does not give you the right to silence them."