By Joe Setyon

November 18, 2021

Her request was a simple one. But for Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas, it was important nonetheless.

“It wasn’t until I had kids that I realized that this is kind of like the point of life,” says Solas, 2021 recipient of the Goldwater Institute’s Freedom Award. “Your life changes when you have a baby. And it becomes, like, the whole purpose in life is to raise your kids, and love them, and make sure they become well-adapted adults, and that they’re happy and feel loved.”

Loving her young daughter meant staying informed about what her child would be learning in kindergarten. Would the South Kingstown School District be teaching age-appropriate material, or would kindergarteners’ minds be filled with politically-charged rhetoric influenced by controversial ideologies like Critical Race Theory and gender theory?

“We’re in the midst of a cultural revolution that seeks to destroy the most precious and fundamental American value of equality,” Solas told attendees of Goldwater’s Annual Dinner on Nov. 5, before calling public schools “ground zero” for this revolution. “They’re telling our children to judge each other on the basis of their skin color.” 

Solas emailed the school principal and asked to see the curriculum. But school officials didn’t seem terribly interested in giving her a straight answer, instead directing her to file a public records request. So she did. But Solas still wasn’t getting any answers.

That’s when the Goldwater Institute stepped in and made additional records requests on her behalf. This time, instead of just stonewalling her, the school district tried billing her $74,000 just to access simple information about her daughter’s kindergarten curriculum.

Education bureaucrats weren’t done with her yet. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest public sector teachers union, even sued Solas for asking too many questions.

“You will be retaliated against. They retaliated against me,” Solas said. “Retaliation is just the beginning. You can overcome it, and it’s worth the risk for your kids,” she told Annual Dinner attendees, calling on them to “embrace dissent.”

These attempts to silence Solas didn’t work for one simple reason: She fought back.

“Nicole will not be bullied, she won’t be intimidated, and she will not be silenced. She’s still fighting for her daughter – and she’s fighting for all of our children,” said Goldwater Institute Executive Director Christina Sandefur, who presented Solas with the Freedom Award at the Annual Dinner. “And she’s showing parents across the country that they’re not alone.”

Parents like Solas have a fundamental right to know what their children are being taught in taxpayer-funded schools. They deserve to know if their kids are being spoon-fed toxic falsehoods—like the lie that the American Dream isn’t real; the lie that America was founded on racism, slavery, and hatred; and the lie that it’s better to judge others on their skin color rather than the content of their hearts.

Solas wouldn’t accept those lies. “Ultimately, we’re worth more than just out immutable characteristics. We’re worth more than just our skin color,” she says. “We’re human beings, and we have human value that transcends all that.”

When education bureaucrats acted as if her daughter belonged to the government, Solas stood up to them. She kept asking questions. She kept fighting for academic transparency. She kept battling the education bureaucrats who tried to silence her at every turn. She kept speaking out. She turned a local controversy about a stay-at-home mom’s spat with her daughter’s school district into national news, telling the country her story via outlets like Fox News and Newsmax. And in doing so, she stood up for every parent in America who deserves to know what their children are being taught in school.

“You want to become the gadfly that your school district hates. And you love that they hate you, because you love your kids,” she said.

Ultimately, Solas’ resolve in the face of an education establishment that took drastic measures to make her go away is why she’s a deserving recipient of the Goldwater Institute Freedom Award.

“The Goldwater Freedom Award honors individuals that made a big difference both at the grassroots level and across the country in terms of promoting the ideals of freedom. And in Nicole’s case, there really has been no greater champion over the last year fighting for academic transparency and accountability in our schools,” says Goldwater Institute President and CEO Victor Riches.

Solas isn’t done fighting. (Take a look at her Twitter feed if you have any doubt.) She’s continuing to warn Americans about the scourge of wokeness infiltrating our schools and indoctrinating our children. And she’s calling on fellow concerned citizens to join her.

“Learn everything you can about your school district. Comb their website. Learn all their policies. Learn all the players on the school board and the department of education, the programs that they use. Ask for the curriculum. Trace where their funding comes from. And then you need to engage them. Email them, put everything in writing. Ask them scary questions,” she said.

“We must fight [CRT] with all the love we have for our kids. Because that’s the one thing that we have that they don’t: your unconditional love for your children. And let that fuel you in your fight.”

To learn more about Nicole’s story, you can click here. For more on Goldwater’s efforts to promote academic transparency, click here. And for more on our Annual Dinner, click here.

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