REPORTED BY: ROBERT BUSEK | JUNE 08, 2022
Instead of welcoming self-reflection and accountability, the educational establishment and its media allies are trying to gaslight parents.
The 2021-2022 school year is coming to a close. As usual, students, parents, teachers, and administrators are looking over the past year to see what worked, what didn’t, and how to improve.
This year, the educational establishment’s report card is even worse than usual. It has failed to address the learning losses due to unnecessary Covid lockdowns and inspired parental uproar over critical race theory and LGBT advocacy in the classroom. It has suffered a surprising electoral defeat in Virginia and a not-so-surprising legislative setback in Florida, as well as an unprecedented number of school board recall elections. Most damaging of all, close to 2 million students have abandoned government schooling for greener (not to mention safer) pastures.
Faced with such massive public losses, one might think a little self-reflection would be in order. Instead, the educrats, with the help of their friends in the legacy media, have decided to address these serious problems by gaslighting the American public.
Avoiding Accountability at All Costs
The most recent example of this deception comes from the continuing saga of the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) effort last fall to smear parents who complain at school board meetings as “domestic terrorists.” The now infamous letter and even more infamous Department of Justice memo that followed it represent the depths to which the educational establishment was willing to sink to protect itself from accountability to the families it theoretically serves.
A recently completed independent review exonerated the NSBA’s board from culpability in this fiasco, fixing the blame for “both the ‘origin and substance of the letter’” on former Interim Director and CEO Chip Slaven. The review also found that while unnamed members of the Biden administration “collaborated” with Slaven, it “did not find direct or indirect evidence suggesting the administration requested the letter.”
In an effort to “clear the record,” Slaven recorded an interview last week with Fox News Digital, where he whined about being “betrayed” and “completely backstabbed” by the organization that he led. He also admitted that he disagreed with the NSBA board’s futile efforts to walk back the language of the letter, claiming that “it drenched an already inflamed and out-of-control narrative with another helping of gasoline.”
Neither Slaven nor the NSBA’s announcement bothered to address the elephant in the room: that the
organization sees engaged parents and community members who attend school board meetings as potential threats that need to be watched and possibly prosecuted by federal authorities. When pressed about this during the interview, Slaven lamely defended the substance of the letter he penned by saying, “The word ‘parents’ is not in the letter anywhere,” despite the examples cited in the letter’s footnotes.
The NSBA has offered vague platitudes about “advocat[ing] for local control” and being “committed to parent engagement” as it pursues its “nonpartisan” goals. These attempts to rewrite history come as 25 state school boards have chosen “to withdraw membership, participation, or dues from NSBA.”
Meanwhile, an FBI whistleblower has claimed that “counterterrorism tools” were indeed used against parents in accordance with the DOJ’s memo. It remains unclear whether these efforts continue presently despite the NSBA’s repudiation of the letter and its alleged author.
Legacy Media Provide Covering Fire
Of course, the left-wing corporate media have gone all in to support educrats’ efforts to deceive the public into believing they remain the valiant heroes in this ongoing drama. Lately, they’ve decided to focus their attacks on a favorite target of the left: homeschooling families.
This is hardly surprising, as the number of these families at least doubled during the lockdowns of 2020-2021. What’s more, that number has been largely maintained despite schools re-opening in the fall of 2021.
On Mother’s Day, Keith Olbermann fired an opening salvo in this new campaign against educational choice when he tweeted that a homeschooling mom was “ruin[ing] the lives of five innocent children.” Not to be outdone, MSNBC columnist Anthea Butler initiated a preemptive strike against Kirk Cameron’s upcoming documentary “The Homeschool Awakening” by disingenuously linking homeschooling not just with conservative Christianity, but also with the “segregation academies” of the post-Brown v. Board of Education South.
After grudgingly admitting the recent increase in homeschooling “may [in part] be attributed to Black parents and other diverse groups” who might not otherwise dare to disagree with her leftist party line, Butler ended her hatchet job with a dire warning:
Homeschooling may have greater appeal now because of these debates and the desire for parents to play a big part in their children’s educational life. It may also arise out of pandemic concerns, but parents unfamiliar with the existing networks of homeschooling run the danger of being drawn into Christian conservative networks and theocratic teaching. [Cameron] says that people choosing homeschooling are having an awakening, but the public needs to awaken to the reality that public schools may disappear if people with his extreme beliefs have their way.
The left’s message to parents is loud and clear: Exercise your right to homeschool your kids and you are complicit in the cold-blooded murder of public schooling.
In these efforts, Slaven, Olbermann, Butler, and their comrades studiously deflect from the simple truth: If American government-run schools are dying, it is not a case of murder, but of suicide.
The self-inflicted wounds keep coming despite all the warning signs of the past academic year. Last month, the school district in Kiel, Wis., accused three middle schoolers of sexual harassment for failing to refer to another student by her chosen pronouns. What parent wants to go through that as a consequence of sending his kids to public schools?
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Fairfax County Public Schools is planning to adopt a policy to suspend or even expel students who “maliciously misgender” classmates. The vote, originally scheduled for May 26, has been suspiciously delayed until June 16, perhaps so the happy chaos of the last day of school will allow the board to avoid further public scrutiny and outrage.
As kids across the nation start their summer vacations, the battle for their minds and souls rages on. True to form, the educational establishment fights dirty, using cheap manipulation tactics to distract the public from its pursuit of ideological “business as usual.”
Robert Busek is a Catholic homeschooling father of six who has taught history and Western Civilization in both traditional and online classrooms for over twenty years. His essays have also been published in The American Conservative and The American Spectator. The views he expresses here are his own.