The Public Education Complex Is Not on Our Side...It's Time for Good People to Get Ugly

Renee Jones Schneider

I have been a school choice advocate and activist for nearly 20 years. I have long been of the opinion that the best way to push forward with school choice advocacy was to build bridges, educate people on the process, support legislation, stay away from heated rhetoric that turns away potential allies from other parts of the political spectrum, and never, ever, ever get unpleasant with your opponents.

Well, I’ve changed my mind.

It’s time to get unpleasant. Hell, it’s time to get downright ornery.

On Thursday The New York Post reported that the National School Board Association (NSBA) had actually had previous consultations with the White House before they sent their now infamous “domestic terrorists” memo.

A parent’s rights group, Parents Defending Education, unearthed an October memo from the NSBA that detailed at least one meeting at the White House just prior to the “domestic terrorists” letter they sent.

The memo, made public Thursday by the group Parents Defending Education, detailed at least one specific meeting with White House staff on Sept. 14, just over two weeks before the NSBA sent their letter to President Biden.

“In the September 14, 2021 meeting of the OSAED [Organization of State Association Executive Directors] liaison group, they were informed there had been a meeting with White House staff that morning and that NSBA was preparing to send a letter to the President,” the memo reads.

“Subsequently, on September 17, 2021, the interim Executive Director emailed notice to the state association executive directors that indicated a letter requesting federal assistance would be sent.”

Merrick Garland’s public response was made on October 4th.

After reading the NYPost report, I was suddenly overcome with a sense of righteous indignation, moral outrage…just rage in general.

There’s no playing nice with these people. The whole thing has gotten out of hand and we parents are to blame. We got too comfortable. We believed the people we elected to our school boards were on our side. After all, they are our neighbors, they are our fellow citizens. These aren’t hardened politicians. They’re local concerned citizens who want to serve.

But we were wrong. They are not just regular citizens. They are not on our side. They are not here to serve.

You don’t run for school board because you (and I, we…we’re all culpable, here) have better things to do with your time. You don’t feel the need to meddle in public affairs. You’ve got church activities and your kids have sports and social events and you’re caring for aging parents and ailing neighbors. You’ve always left that work to the people who seem to really want to do it.

The problem is – as we’re finding out – that the people who are eager to do that work are the very people for whom power becomes irresistibly intoxicating. They’re the same people who will call the snitch hotline to report a business that isn’t properly checking for masks or vaccine passports. They’re people who have traditionally had little power or control in their own lives, and so seek to wield it in some way over anyone they can. Those are the people who love public office, and they’ve ruined everything.

Everything was just fine for them as long as we were just showing up at the occasional school board meeting to argue about school lunches and half-days. They liked those interactions because that involved us asking for their help, asking for their permission.

Of course they hate that parents are suddenly getting loud and angry about the things they’ve allowed to happen to our schools and our students. It’s not the subject of the complaints that anger them, despite their protestations. It is that parents are suddenly realizing that school boards serve them, and not the other way around. The power dynamic is shifting and they hate it. Many school board members are nothing more than glorified meter maids and the more you protest that ticket, the more arrogant they get.

So, as much I advocate for grace and peaceful confrontation, I say the time has come to cause trouble, and keep causing it until we get what we want. Even in my beloved Bible there are stories of the people taking up the mantle of righteous anger and becoming rather unpleasant in service of beating back the enemy.

In this case, the enemy is tone-deaf school boards and their allies in the teachers unions.

These people are so unused to pushback that they think angry parents are terrorists…instead of dissatisfied customers. They are so cowardly that they can’t even stomach listening to someone critique the shitty jobs they’re doing. They are weak.

It’s time for us to be strong. It’s time for us to be disrupters. The squeaky wheels get the grease. We see that apply to progressive activists every single day. We’ve seen that apply to the brave and tireless parents in Loudoun County and other districts across the country.

The NSBA, the teachers unions, this administration – they are not on our side. They just got comfortable with our complacency and were finally pushed too hard, too fast. We don’t think of simply holding our elected officials accountable as “war,” but if it’s war they see, then war is what they shall get.

It’s time for us to get in the mud, dig the trenches and start settling in for the long haul.

We are not the enemy. We are parents. We are the greatest advocates for our children and if we have to stand in front of our children to take the slings and arrows hurled at them from the power merchants, so be it.

The progressives in education have awakened a sleeping beast.

Hear us roar.

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