October 27, 2021
By Max Eden and Matt Beienburg
Associations of school boards are the latest example of administrative power gone mad.
Until quite recently, American parents thought of public schools as democratically accountable local institutions. But the pandemic revealed how much of K-12 education is controlled by teachers’ unions, unelected bureaucrats, and non-governmental organizations. This reality, considered alongside the apparent collusion between the Biden White House and the National School Boards Association to create a pretext for a federal law enforcement intervention to chill parental opposition to critical race theory (CRT), will raise the specter in many parents’ minds of a public education “deep state.”
The NSBA’s recent letter to President Biden alleged, without evidence, a rise in threats and violence, and asked the administration to “examine appropriate enforceable actions,” under “the PATRIOT Act for domestic terrorism.” Fewer than half of state school board associations expressed objections before the NSBA apologized under harsh public pressure, saying there was “no justification” for its language.
For its part, the Rhode Island Association of School Committees has promised to cooperate with the FBI and advised its members to apprise them of “of any issues you have had during your Committee meetings on topics such as mask mandates, issues with equity education, rights for LGBTQ, and BIOPC [sic] students.”
But this public commitment to narc on parents who oppose or question school policies may not even be the most flagrant anti-democratic posture taken by a state school board association. That award goes to the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), which—after being challenged on its woke agenda—insisted that it owns publicly adopted school district policy.
Max Eden and Matt Beienburg are, respectively, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and director of its Conservative Education Reform Network; and the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute, and also director of the Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy.