July 7, 2022

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National School Boards Association fallout continues

3 min read

Half the U.S. States vote to withdraw membership come after the NSBA sent a controversial letter to the White House

More than half of U.S. state school boards have pushed back against the National School Boards Association (NSBA) after the organization sent a letter to the White House suggesting parents might be engaging in domestic terrorism.

More specifically, 10 state school boards have issued statements disagreeing with the letter, and 17 more state school boards have either voted to withdraw their memberships, participation and/or dues from the NSBA, with Georgia, Florida and Alabama being the most recent examples, according to a list from Parents Defending Education (PDE), a parent advocacy nonprofit.

“Labeling parents as domestic terrorists isn’t a great strategy when it comes to your organization, whether you’re a school board or any other type of organization,” Corey DeAngelis, national director of research at school choice organization School Choice Now, told Fox News of the movement against the NSBA.

NSBA’s Sept. 29 letter sparked backlash from lawmakers, parents and educational leaders as it appeared to prompt a Justice Department (DOJ) memo about a nationwide investigation into intimidation against school boards.

Internal emails obtained by PDE in November show multiple state-level officials expressing dismay over the now-infamous letter’s content and the purported process for reviewing it. Emails also confirm that the NSBA was in communication with the White House “for weeks” prior to DOJ’s memo.

Since then, 27 states have issued statements disagreeing with the nonprofit education organization’s letter, and 17 have withdrawn their memberships or dues, according to PDE.

The Georgia School Board Association and Florida School Boards Association on Tuesday decided to separate from the national group. The Alabama Association of School Boards voted to do the same this week, according to 1918 news.

The NSBA issued an apology on Oct. 22 for the letter to Biden, saying “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”

“As we’ve reiterated since the letter was sent, we deeply value not only the work of local school boards that make important contributions within our communities, but also the voices of parents, who should and must continue to be heard when it comes to decisions about their children’s education, health, and safety,” the association said.

Still, DeAngelis believes that the 10 states who have pushed back against the NSBA’s letter but have not withdrawn from the organization are not taking enough action.

“If you’re a state that still hasn’t distanced yourself, even after the [NSBA] has distanced themselves from their own letter, that doesn’t look very good for your state,” he said. “[T]he only meaningful pushback is actually pulling your dues or severing ties formally when it comes to membership or participation with the national organization.”

He added that parents have become a special interest group in K-12 education recent months whereas before, “the only special interest groups that had any real sway were teachers unions and superintendents.”

“Teachers’ unions have finally overplayed their hand to a point where they’ve awakened a sleeping giant — these parents who want more say in their kids’ education,” he said. “And I’m especially optimistic because parents care about their kids more than anybody esle, and they’re going to be the special interest group in K-12 education from here on out.”

The NSBA “advocates for equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership” and provides resources to local school boards to do so, according to its website.