August 5, 2021

The National Education Association (NEA)—the nation’s largest public sector teachers’ union with a budget of over $300 million—has sued a Rhode Island mom for asking what her daughter would be taught in kindergarten. With the help of the Goldwater Institute, Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas is fighting back.

“This brazen and unprecedented act of intimidation by the NEA will not stand,” said Jon Riches, Director of National Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, who is representing Solas. “Nicole Solas is entitled to know what her daughter’s school is teaching in the classroom. She’s entitled to ask questions. And she does not deserve to face legal action just for asking questions any concerned parent would ask.”    

Like many parents, Nicole was concerned about whether her daughter would be exposed to politically charged curriculum in the classroom. So in April, Nicole emailed the principal of her school in the South Kingstown School District asking for the kindergarten curriculum—and whether it would include teaching children politically charged materials, including those influenced by Critical Race Theory and gender theory, holding them out to be true. She immediately faced stonewalling from the school, and even a threat of legal action for asking too many questions. Ultimately, Nicole received a bill for $74,000 to fulfill a public records request filed by the Goldwater Institute on her behalf in July.

If that were not enough, Nicole is now facing an unprecedented lawsuit by the NEA, a veritable goliath of a public sector union, representing over 2.3 million people nationwide.  She is under attack with the costs and expenses associated with defending herself in a lawsuit for simply acting as a conscientious parent. This is not the first time that the NEA has shown that it’s more concerned with politics and indoctrination than actually helping kids learn and succeed. At the 2019 Representative Assembly of the NEA, the union’s delegates voted down a proposed resolution that called on the organization to “rededicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education” and “make student learning the priority of the Association.” Nicole, though, is determined to put her daughter’s education first and refuses to be deterred by the union’s politically motivated attack.

“The NEA is so determined to push its political agenda that they are willing to expose themselves in a court of law for who they really are: an association of bullies eager to challenge a stay-at-home mom who simply wanted to know what her daughter would be taught,” Nicole said. “This lawsuit won’t deter me from asking questions, and I encourage all parents to do the same, so that they are empowered to make informed decisions regarding their children’s education.”

Rhode Island law does not permit private parties to seek to punish those who exercise their rights to public information. The NEA’s lawsuit is a brazen assault on the public’s right to know what their government is up to and parents’ right to know what their children are learning in school. The Goldwater Institute is fighting to guarantee that right and to ensure public schools are transparent about their curriculum.

Parents like Nicole shouldn’t have to fight to learn what their children will be taught in school. The Goldwater Institute is working to shine a light on public schools’ curriculum—to learn more about our Academic Transparency Act, visit goldwaterinstitute.org/academictransparency.

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