Lisa Graves and Alyssa Bowen recently reviewed the tax returns of some well-known “parent” groups and discovered what we suspected to be true. They are funded by Dark Money, specifically by billionaire Charles Koch, who longs to eliminate public education.

They write in Truthout:

Right-wing operatives are increasing their attacks on U.S. public education with an expanding number of legal complaints to censor books and target teachers on an array of issues —preventing them from teaching U.S. history accurately, treating LGBTQ+ students with the respect they deserve, and forming support groups for kids and teachers of color. These attacks will likely continue to escalate through 2024 as wedge issues intended to feed the right-wing voting base and lay the groundwork for redirecting funds from public schools to private recipients.

One of the main players in these attacks is Parents Defending Education (PDE), a dark money nonprofit group launched in 2021 in the midst of the Virginia state election cycle. Over the past two years, PDE has become a central actor in the right-wing assault on public schools across the nation. The group has trained local agitators to grab media attention, sued school districts for supposed anti-white discrimination, and railed against the teaching of social emotional learning, accurate U.S. history, and even ethnic studiesin schools.

Lawyers affiliated with PDE filed at least four complaints in January with the U.S. Department of Education claiming affinity groups for kids or teachers are illegal. These are just a few of the many complaints the group has filed over the past two years.

As dark money in education expert Maurice Cunningham has written, PDE’s “real goal” in filing lawsuits and complaints appears to be to “create media attention and promote chaos and disruption.” Then groups like PDE can claim the solution to the chaos is increased right-wing “parental supervision” over school boards. That supervision appears to involve a minority of vocal, politically motivated parents dictating what other people’s kids are taught or what they can read, based on whether such lessons or books are consistent with their right-wing religious beliefs and political opinions.

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PDE’s speakers are often portrayed in the media as simply “concerned parents,” despite the group’s ties to the network of oil billionaire Charles Koch, far right politicians and school privatization efforts. Due to the timetables for the filing of nonprofit IRS forms, the amount PDE had raised to mount these attacks was unknown — until now.

PDE’s 2021 990 nonprofit IRS form shows that the group raised more than $3.1 million in its first year, even though many genuinely local grassroots efforts take years to raise that much money. That form does not reveal how much money PDE raised in 2022, during the congressional midterm elections; the amount it received to fuel its operations last year is likely even higher than 2021. The $3.1 million disclosed for 2021 also does not include any money raised that year by PDE Action, its (c)(4) advocacy arm.

Please open the link and keep reading this deep dive into astroturf parent groups funded by the far right billionaires.