Archives for category: Extremism

Trump (The Former Guy) sent a message to his cult by inviting the rapper Ye (formerly Kanye West) and white nationalist Nick Fuentes to dine with him at Mar-a-Lago. Fuentes is a Holocaust denier, a racist, and an anti-Semite, also a homophobe, of course. Ye is a loud anti-Semite. Are Ye and Fuentes friends, even though Ye is Black? Trump claims he didn’t know Fuentes but it’s hard to believe anything he says, or that a total stranger would be admitted to dine with him.

This is what Heather Cox Richardson said about the dinner:

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 22, former president Trump hosted the antisemitic artist Ye, also known as Kanye West, for dinner at a public table at Mar-a-Lago along with political operative Karen Giorno, who was the Trump campaign’s 2016 state director in Florida. Ye brought with him 24-year-old far-right white supremacist Nick Fuentes. Fuentes attended the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in its wake, he committed to moving the Republican Party farther to the right.

Fuentes has openly admired Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and authoritarian Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is currently making war on Russia’s neighbor Ukraine. A Holocaust denier, Fuentes is associated with America’s neo-Nazis.

In February 2020, Fuentes launched the America First Political Action Conference to compete from the right with the Conservative Political Action Conference. In May 2021, on a livestream, Fuentes said: “My job…is to keep pushing things further. We, because nobody else will, have to push the envelope. And we’re gonna get called names. We’re gonna get called racist, sexist, antisemitic, bigoted, whatever.… When the party is where we are two years later, we’re not gonna get the credit for the ideas that become popular. But that’s okay. That’s our job. We are the right-wing flank of the Republican Party. And if we didn’t exist, the Republican Party would be falling backwards all the time.”

Fuentes and his “America First” followers, called “Groypers” after a cartoon amphibian (I’m not kidding), backed Trump’s lies that he had actually won the 2020 election. At a rally shortly after the election, Fuentes told his followers to “storm every state capitol until Jan. 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.” Fuentes and Groypers were at the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, and at least seven of them have been charged with federal crimes for their association with that attack. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Fuentes himself.

Accounts of the dinner suggest that Trump and Fuentes hit it off, with Trump allegedly saying, “I like this guy, he gets me,” after Fuentes urged Trump to speak freely off the cuff rather than reading teleprompters and trying to appear presidential as his handlers advise.

But Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2024 just days ago, and being seen publicly with far-right white supremacist Fuentes—in addition to Ye—indicates his embrace of the far right. His team told NBC’sMarc Caputo that the dinner was a “f**king nightmare.” Trump tried to distance himself from the meeting by saying he didn’t know who Fuentes was, and that he was just trying to help Ye out by giving the “seriously troubled” man advice, but observers noted that he did not distance himself from Fuentes’s positions.

Republican lawmakers have been silent about Trump’s apparent open embrace of the far right, illustrating the growing power of that far right in the Republican Party. Representatives Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) have affiliated themselves with Fuentes, and while their appearances with him at the America First Political Action Conference last February drew condemnation from Republican leader Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), now McCarthy desperately needs the votes of far-right Republicans to make him speaker of the House. To get that support, he has been promising to deliver their wish list—including an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter—and appears willing to accept Fuentes and his followers into the party, exactly as Fuentes hoped.

Today, after the news of Trump’s dinner and the thundering silence that followed it, conservative anti-Trumper Bill Kristol tweeted: “Aren’t there five decent Republicans in the House who will announce they won’t vote for anyone for Speaker who doesn’t denounce their party’s current leader, Donald Trump, for consorting with the repulsive neo-Nazi Fuentes?”

So far, at least, the answer is no.

To read footnotes, open the link.

Mercedes Schneider describes the arbitrary and capricious actions of the Berkeley School Board in South Carolina. “Moms for Liberty” won control of the board in the recent election. At its first meeting, it fired the superintendent and the board’s attorney and immediately replaced them.

I posted a report previously about this extremist takeover, written by Paul Bowers, a journalist in South Carolina who attended the tumultuous meeting.

She points out that the superintendent had been rated “proficient” unanimously by the previous board only a month earlier.

Read her post and see how little respect these M4L people have for democratic and legal norms.

Schneider concludes, let the litigation begin!

Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just proved that he is the stupidest person in the world. He said in an interview that Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, is “the most dangerous person in the world.”

More dangerous than the President of China, Xi Jinping, who is threatening the survival of Taiwan and re-imposing a repressive regime across China.

More dangerous than President Kim, the dictator of North Korea, who is threatening South Korea and the rest of the world, with his intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

More dangerous than Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who is trying to destroy the people of Ukraine by destroying their access to heat, light, and water as winter begins,in addition to raining deadly missiles on them.

No, Pompeo says, Randi is “the most dangerous person in the world.”

Why? Because she leads a teachers’ unions, and unions are evil.

Teachers too are evil, Pompeo believes, because the children of America can’t read, write, or do math.

He said,

“I tell the story often — I get asked ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?’ The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten,” Pompeo said.

“It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing,” the former top U.S. diplomat added.

Randi replied:

In a thread on Twitter, Weingarten said she didn’t know if the remarks should be considered “ridiculous or dangerous.”

“At the state department, Pompeo defended Middle East’s tyrants & undermined Ukraine. He was more focused on pleasing Trump than fighting 4 freedom, national security & democracy. To compare us to China means he must not know what his own department says,” she wrote.

“Maybe spend a minute in one of the classrooms with my members and their students and you will get a real lesson in the promise and potential of America.”

Pompeo’s blast is ridiculous and stupid. But it’s also dangerous for Randi. It makes her a target of extremists in search of targets. This country has a surfeit of lunatics with guns. Pompeo should pay the cost of personal security for her.

His uninformed, ignorant remarks are insulting to teachers.

I challenge him to name a non-union state that outperforms unionized states.

Every teacher should belong to the AFT or the NEA. They would have higher salaries, health care, pensions, and job security. They would have state and national organizations to protect them in state legislatures and Congress.

The teaching profession is under fire by ignorant politicians like Pompeo. Consequently, many experienced teachers have resigned, and there is a national teacher shortage.

The best way to support teachers and their noble profession is to improve their stature, their salaries, and their working conditions. The only way that will happen is if there are strong unions to stand up for teachers, who alone are powerless.

Only strong unions will fight for the profession against the hostility of bombastic fools like Pompeo.

Pompeo can’t tolerate strong women or strong unions.

The Texas Tribune reports that conservative school board candidates in some suburban districts failed with culture war issues.

School board elections: Even though school board races are nonpartisan, the Nov. 8 elections for Round Rock and Wylie independent school sistrict trustees drew high-profile endorsements from the Republican Party of Texas.

But in both districts, every candidate endorsed by the Republican Party of Texas, a total of nine, lost. In Round Rock, the races weren’t even close, with one candidate, Tiffanie Harrison, beating her opponent by 25 percentage points.

While Texas Republicans largely swept Tuesday’s elections and GOP-backed school board trustees made gains elsewhere in the state, the results in Round Rock and Wylie raise questions about the current conservative strategy in suburban school districts and the appeal of an agenda built on culture war issues.

One of the primary targets for conservatives running for school board seats has been critical race theory, a college-level discipline that examines racism within social and legal structures within the United States. It is not taught in elementary or secondary public schools in Texas, but Republicans have used the term to target how students are taught about race in schools.

Republicans leaned on a strategy modeled after one used in Tarrant County, where in May, a slate of 11 conservative, anti-CRT candidates won races in school boards. But the GOP was unable to mimic the occurrence in the midterm elections cycle.

Jill Farris, a Round Rock school board candidate endorsed by the Texas GOP who lost her race, attributed the results to a changing electorate that is more liberal than in previous years.

“Maybe we were all kind of relying a little bit on this red wave and thought that parents were just as angry as we were,” Farris said. “At least now, we know where the community stands and we can move forward.”

Steve Hinnefeld reports that the voters of Indiana did not buy the anti-CRT baloney in important school board races. Indiana is a solid red state where Republicans swept every statewide race. But parents mostly like their school boards.

He begins:

School board elections are the quintessential local elections. In most states, including Indiana, they are nonpartisan. Voters make their choices based on the pros and cons of candidates, not parties. Issues matter, but candidates with strong networks of friends and supporters are likely to do well.

That makes it hard to draw conclusions from the school board elections that took place across the state last week. But it appears that conservative culture warriors didn’t do as well as they had hoped.

In some school districts, candidates vowed to take on “critical race theory” and “wokeness” in the schools. Those folks won and now have a majorityin Hamilton Southeastern, an affluent suburban district north of Indianapolis where white parents protested the hiring of the district’s first Black superintendent last year. In the New Albany-Floyd County district, two candidates backed by Liberty Defense, a PAC that supports Republicans, were among four winners.

But in Carmel and Noblesville, suburban districts that are demographically and politically similar to Hamilton Southeastern, they gained a seat but remained a minority. In Zionsville and Avon, also Indy suburbs, supporters of teachers and administrators won all contested seats. Zionsville conservatives who wanted to rewrite curriculum, and one who made national news when he said “all Nazis weren’t bad,” fell short. In Northwest Allen Schools, a suburban Fort Wayne district, incumbents held off a challenge by conservatives, including one endorsed by U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.

One disturbing result was in Lafayette, where a winning candidate said he looked forward to scouring classrooms for “gay and lesbian flags, that sort of thing.” But he’s one board member. He can make an ass of himself, but he can’t dictate policy, much less curriculum.

Open the link and keep reading.

Paul Bowers writes about what happened when a slate of extremists took control of a local school board in South Carolina. He described their actions as “vandalism.”

He begins:

A hard-right faction took control of the 4th-largest school district in South Carolina last night and immediately got to work smashing anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor.

On the same night they were sworn in to the Berkeley County School Board, a slate of candidates backed by Moms for Liberty and the local Republican Party fired the district’s first Black superintendent, fired the district legal counsel, voted to cut property taxes, approved a ban on “critical race theory” in the classroom, and set up a panel to begin reviewing and banning books containing sexual content that they deem inappropriate.

I was there when it happened, part of an overflow crowd of community members who told the board what they were doing was shameful. We might as well have delivered our little speeches to a brick wall. What we witnessed last night was more like vandalism than leadership.

I live-tweeted the meeting last night if you want to take a closer look. Because this newsletter has a national(-ish) audience, I wanted to share some broad observations that might be helpful as conservatives put all of our schools in their crosshairs.

They came prepared

The temptation is to think of our political opponents as stupid or insane. They might in fact be both, but we can’t think strategically about defeating them without assuming a base level of cunning on their part.

The Berkeley County Republican Party is a well-oiled machine. From the moment the newly elected conservative super-majority members took their seats in the boardroom last night, it was obvious they had a plan and they were sticking to it.

The new members didn’t deliver any flashy soundbites. They hardly discussed their policy proposals at all, aside from a running narrative by their newly installed board chair, Mac McQuillin. McQuilin is one of the longer-serving board members and knows Robert’s Rules of Order. He knew when to call a vote, and his allies on the board dutifully cast their votes in a 6-member bloc. On a 9-member board, they didn’t need to bother with persuading the other side.

This is called party discipline, and Democrats are terrible at it. Progressive activists and politicians could learn a thing or two about tactics here.

They take cues from the national level

Two rallying cries of conservative activists in this country right now are banning uncomfortable discussions of history under the guise of “critical race theory” and forbidding students from learning about the existence of trans people. The messaging is clear and consistent from Tucker Carlson’s mouth to your racist cousin’s ears.

Unlike with Statehouse-level legislation, where watchdog groups like ALEC Exposed track the spread of “model legislation” from the American Legislative Exchange Council, we don’t have a robust way of tracking the spread of billionaires’ pet projects at the level of local school boards (Or maybe we do! Let me know if you have a good resource).

Read enough local news and you start to see the patterns, though. Conservative county council and school board members have no qualms about copying and pasting policies from each other.

Earlier this month in South Carolina, the Horry County School Board set aside a “restricted access” section of school libraries where students can’t read books without parental permission. Book bans and “library consideration policies” were on the agenda in Lexington 3 and Beaufort County school districts this week too, borrowing ideas from Florida’s latest book ban laws.

Following the template, Berkeley County’s school board voted last night to approve a similar book-banning regime, effectively overriding policies that were written by the district’s own school librarians last year.

Please open the link and keep reading.

The Boston Globe wrote about the activities of a Dark Money group called Parents Defending Education, which has filed lawsuits against the public schools in Wellesley and Newton in their quest to ban books and cleanse the schools of teaching about racism and gender.

Maurice Cunningham wrote a letter to the Globe explaining the reason for the harassment. He thinks their goal is intimidation. He’s right. But there is more. I think their goal is to undermine confidence in public schools and build support for privatization.

He wrote:

LETTERS

In its challenges to schools, group’s object lesson is intimidation

Updated November 18, 2022, 2:30 a.m.

Moms for Liberty, represented at an event last month in Vero Beach, Fla., is among the groups associated with Parents Defending Education, which has been promoting conservative values in education and challenging school districts in court.

Re “Schools wary as nonprofit targets teaching: Right-leaning group’s complaints cite bias in lessons on gender, race, sexuality” (Page A1, Nov. 15): Parents Defending Education is an obedient franchise of right-wing interests, including Charles Koch and the Council for National Policy, that are working to destroy public education.

Legal actions such as Parents Defending Education’s civil rights complaint against the Newton Public Schools and its lawsuit against Wellesley Public Schools are meant to generate publicity and foster intimidation. As the Globe has reported previously, the group’s civil rights “complaints likely will go nowhere.” The lawsuit settled on terms favorable to Wellesley.


However, Parents Defending Education isn’t after legal recourse; it’s after harassment. Wellesley School Superintendent David Lussier said he has received “obscene” and “awful” e-mails from people connected to the group. In December 2021, the Globe reported that two Black school principals in Newton had received “racist and confrontational” messages after the right-wing publisher Breitbart published an article misrepresenting how the principals’ schools were handling lessons about the verdicts in the trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and the men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery. Breitbart’s story was framed by Parents Defending Education.

Racist and obscene messages menacing educators are not an unfortunate consequence of Parents Defending Education’s machinations; they are entirely foreseeable.

Maurice T. Cunningham

Cambridge

The writer is the author of “Dark Money and the Politics of School Privatization.” He is a retired associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a former state assistant attorney general in Massachusetts.

Educators, parents, and civil rights groups in Virginia are outraged because Governor Glen Youngkin has directed the rewriting of the state’s history standards. The Youngkin standards eliminate anything that extremists and rightwingers find objectionable. The Youngkin team initially deleted all mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the elementary curriculum. Presumably any discussion of Dr. King’s life and legacy might be interpreted as “critical race theory” by the Governor’s allies.

At the same time, Youngkin’s cultural warriors expanded coverage of Ancient Greece and Rome, expecting children in the early elementary years to learn about major figures in those civilizations for whom they have no context or understanding.

In the rewrite of the standards by the Youngkin team,, a startling amount of material about African Americans was deleted. The curriculum and standards were literally whitewashed.

And as you will notice, the Youngkin draft refers to Native Americans and indigenous peoples as “the first immigrants.” What?

The Youngkin rewrite shows zero knowledge of what content is age-appropriate. As you will read below, first-graders are expected to learn about the Code of Hammurabi. Are first-graders really ready to learn about ancient Babylon? The educators who wrote the statement below warn that the Code includes references to adultery and sex, possibly violating recent legislation that bans sexual content in the early grades.

Many years ago, I was deeply involved in the revision of the California History-Social Science standards and curriculum framework. The process must involve teachers, historians, and experts from different disciplines (such as geography, sociology, and other social sciences). Our committee reflected the state’s ethnic diversity and included teachers from different grade levels. The draft was circulated to teachers who would teach it to get their comments. It was then presented at public hearings where parents and the public expressed their views. It was a long and arduous process, but the state ended up with a fair and accurate account of state, national, and world history, along with an appreciation of different perspectives about history.

History is not “a story.” It is told differently depending on who is writing it, and it changes as historians learn more.

That kind of deliberation was started in Virginia but it was short-circuited by Governor Youngkin, who wanted to fulfill his campaign promises about “parental rights” and “critical race theory.” The result is that the process was politicized, and the standards were warped by political interference.

The meeting to discuss the standards was held last night. I will let you know what happens. I will keep watch on the effort to whitewash Virginia’s standards of learning and to make them explicitly Eurocentric.

Press Release by Concerned Educators of the Commonwealth

RELEASE DATE: For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Concerned Educators of the Commonwealth

WHAT: The Rewrite of Virginia’s Proposed History and Social Science Standards

WHEN: Thursday, November 17th Board of Education Meeting, James Monroe Building, Richmond

The History and Social Science Standards of Learning have always been written as a non-partisan document that values input from all sides of the aisle in a transparent process. During the October 20, 2022 meeting of the Virginia Board of Education, a number of Board Members pushed to have the proposed History and Social Science Standards along with supporting Curriculum Framework documents presented for “first review” at the next meeting. The State Superintendent of Instruction resisted this in favor of further delay. Instead of honoring her promise for only a brief delay to allow new board members appointed by Governor Youngkin time to review the proposed Standards, the links below reveal that the proposed Standards have been completely rewritten at the last moment and replaced. This rewrite was led by Superintendent Balow, the Superintendent’s selected consultant, Ms. Shelia Byrd Carmicheal and staff from the Governor’s office. It is NOT the original draft of proposed standards created in partnership with countless educators, historians, professors, museums, organizations, parents, teachers, and VDOE staff in the process laid out in Virginia Code. As indicated by Item I Memo, Shelia Byrd Carmichael will present the ¨Final Redraft of VA HSS Standards for K – 12. 11.10.22¨ There is no mention of the VDOE History and Social Science staff members who have led this work for the past two years.

In addition to this flawed and undemocratic process, there are several aspects of the rewritten standards that we find to be unacceptable, and we urge the Virginia Board of Education to reject these rewritten standards and not consider them for first review at their upcoming meeting on November 17th, 2022:

  1. The inital rewrite of the proposed Standards which were made public on November 11, 2022 entirely removed Martin Luther King, Jr. from the elementary curriculum. This selective erasure of one of the most prominent Black men in American history calls into question this entire revision of the proposed Standards. This was partially addressed on November 16th, 2022 with the sudden addition of the “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” to SOL K.7b. However, the public needs to be aware that this last minute half-measure still removes Martin Luther King, Jr. from the 1st grade and 2nd grade SOLs that have been in place for years. This significant reduction is still unacceptable, and it not only shows how much this process was rushed in isolation with a outside consultant, but it now seems to be a paternalistic attempt to placate and mollify.
  1. The rewrite of the proposed Standards removes most of the 2020 technical edits that were made by the recent Commission on African American History Education (click here in order to see what has been removed).
  1. The rewrite of the proposed Standards refers to Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples as America’s “first immigrants” in SOL K.2a and b – this strips a historically marginalized group of 10,000 years of human history and their heritage as native and indigenous people who numbered in the tens of millions prior to European contact.
  1. The rewrite of the proposed Standards completely removes the African civilization of Mali from the Third Grade standards while Ancient Greece and Rome have been greatly expanded. All of these civilizations should be explored for students to fully understand the world – not just the Western World. This represents another example of erasing people of color from the previous version of the standards while elevating a Eurocentric view of the world.
  1. In addition to political bias, the rewrite of the proposed Standards contains several examples of age-inappropriate content that is far too complex for adolescent children. For example,
    1. The “Code of Hammurabi” is now listed as required content for First Grade (SOL 1.1c). The Code of Hammurabi not only requires considerable historical context for students to understand Ancient Babylon, but many of the codes are inappropriate as they address topics such as adultery, sex, and capital punishment. The time period, as well as the graphic nature of the content, is highly inappropriate for 1st graders. The inclusion of the Code of Hammurabi may come into conflict with the recently passed legislation that forbids the inclusion of sexually explicit content in curriculum.
    2. The Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamia, and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are now required content in SOL 1.1 for First Grade. Students in primary grades have limited context of their own communities and the world around them. Therefore, they need to focus on basic map skills and geographic features such as continents and oceans – not on specific locations that require in-depth knowledge about ancient civilizations. it should be noted that the previous revision version of the Standards placed this content appropriately in secondary courses such as World History I and World Geography that is typically taught in 8th or 9th grade. Asking our youngest learners to learn about “civilization” before they have any context of their own “communities” shows a clear lack of understanding about what is developmentally appropriate in grades K-1.
    3. The Third Grade Standards require students to learn about several historic figures that are far too complex for this grade-level such as “Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Alexander the Great, Crassus, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Trajan, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Constantine, Odysseus, and Aeneas.” While certainly historically significant, these figures are much more appropriate for secondary courses such as World History I which is typically taught in 8th or 9th grade. Such misunderstanding of elementary education calls into question if the person or persons who drafted these revised standards have any understanding of what is developmentally appropriate for younger learners and if they have any experience in elementary education.
  1. The rewrite of the proposed Standards is full of grammatical, spelling, and formatting errors. For example, in SOL 2.2c, the famous closing statement of the Declaration of Independence is misspelled where the signers pledged their “lives, fortunes, and scared [sic.] honor” rather than sacred honor. Another simple mistake appears in SOL USI.7c, where the revised Standard states, “students will describe challenges faced by the new nation by….explaining what the Constitutional Conventions was.”
  1. The rewrite of the proposed Standards is also full of historical errors and inaccuracies. For example, SOL VS.5f requires students to “explain the reasons for the relocation of Virginia’s capital from Jamestown to Williamsburg” as part of the overall standard about the Revolutionary War. However, this makes absolutely no sense given that Virginia’s capital was moved from Williamsburg to Richmond during the Revolutionary War in order to provide greater protection against British attack. A discussion of the move from Jamestown to Williamsburg seems to be a glaring historical error given that Jamestown burned in 1698 and the capital of Virginia was moved to Williamsburg 77 years before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. The previous version of the proposed Standards did not contain egregious historical errors such as this because they were developed by a team of educators, division leaders, and historians. Another example of historical error appears in SOL VS.6 where Zachary Taylor is incorrectly identified as the most recent President from Virginia. Taylor was Virginia’s 7th President elected in 1848. Woodrow Wilson was Virginia’s 8th President elected in 1912.
  1. The rewrite of the proposed Standards emphasizes the memorization of content knowledge at the expense of skills and deeper understanding. The level of content knowledge is so extensive that it leaves very little time for critical thinking, inquiry, and project-based learning. For example, SOL CE.1n requires students to learn the “charters of the Virginia Company of London April 10, 1606, May 23, 1609, and March 12, 1612.” Such specific content knowledge in this regard promotes rote memorization and detracts from the larger goal of deeper understanding, skill development, and learning the knowledge and facts by anchoring that content to larger conceptual understandings
  1. Contributions from the Sikh and the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have been greatly limited in this redraft.
  1. The rewrite of the proposed Standards completely alters the course sequence and will cause major disruptions as divisions struggle to redesign learning materials and resources for courses in grades K-9. If adopted, this mandate would move middle school courses to elementary and high school courses to middle school. This also has the potential to create major staffing issues as teachers will have to change teaching assignments, grade levels, and even schools. The altered sequence of courses negatively impacts students who are already in the middle of a particular course sequence. Publishing companies and education departments have created grade-appropriate materials to accompany the current SOL sequence. Making these drastic changes without allowing time for the creation of high-quality, enriching, age-appropriate supporting documents is disruptive of student learning and compromises Social Studies education.

Note: I can’t guarantee that the links will open, as this is a copy of a copy of a copy.

We have been following the activities of various rightwing groups that purport to represent parents. Many if not all are funded by Dark Money, meaning their funders are anonymous. “Parents Defending Education” is now active in Massachusetts, suing districts for events related to race, gender, and sexual orientation. As the article notes, PDE has a staff of 13, some with a Koch background, and is represented by a Trump-connected lawyer. The goal of such groups is to undermine public confidence in public schools and in the judgment of professional educators. The ultimate goal is to heighten the teacher shortage and encourage privatization of schools.

The Boston Globe story begins:

An increasingly active right-leaning non-profit called Parents Defending Education filed a federal civil rights complaint against Newton North High School last month, alleging that a student-led theater production broke the law by limiting auditions to people of color only.


The same group sued Wellesley Public Schools last year for alleged illegal discrimination when Wellesley High School hosted a forum for Asian students and students of color to discuss a mass shooting at an Asian massage parlor in Atlanta. The teacher who organized the session wrote that it was “not for students who identify only as White.”


So far, the national group has identified 43 “incidents” in which they say Massachusetts schools inappropriately – or even illegally – taught students about race, sexual orientation or gender, setting school districts across the Commonwealth on edge that they might be sued next.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before in all my years here,” said Wellesley School Superintendent David Lussier, who settled the lawsuit with the organization in February. “They try to go after superintendents and get people fired.”


Parents Defending Education did not return repeated requests for comment, but supporters say the group offers a vital counterweight to an education system steeped in liberal values.


“I think it’s good because, for a long time, education has been very one-sided,” said Jennifer McWilliams, a consultant to Parents Defending Education who runs her own advocacy group in Indiana. “Schools have decided that they need to teach children morals, values, attitude and worldview over academics.”


The two-year-old organization, based in Washington D.C., urges parents across the country to report incidents in which they believe schools are dividing students on racial lines or inappropriately teaching students about sex or gender roles. The group states on its website that education must be based on “scholarship and facts” and says ethnic studies divides “children into oppressor and ‘oppressed’ groups,” while teaching white students “guilt and shame.”

And the organization has a sizable, well-connected staff to promote their agenda. Parents Defending Education’s website lists 13 staff members including Nicole Neily, former president of an organization affiliated with the Koch Brothers called Speech First and Aimee Viana, a former Trump Administration appointee.


Schools have long been battlegrounds in the nation’s culture wars, but experts say Parents Defending Education marks something new: an attempt to nationalize the agenda. The group has been promoting conservative values across the country, enlisting local groups with names like Moms for Liberty and No Left Turn in Education along the way.


“We see increased coordination, national coordination among groups of all political stripes and partisan stripes, thanks to social media,” said Meira Levinson, a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. “The right more than the left seems to have mastered techniques of developing language that then can be replicated in legislation, or policy across different municipalities and state governments.”

For Massachusetts educators facing criticism from Parents Defending Education, it suddenly feels like the group is everywhere. The group criticized Brookline schools in April after teachers organized a walkout to protest a Florida measure opponents have characterized as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
In June, the organization condemned Milton for teaching a lesson about the country’s first openly gay politician Harvey Milk and the importance of the letters LGBTQ.


“Who the hell wants to go into this profession anymore if this is going to be the type of community that we’re serving and the type of pressure that we’re going to experience,” Wellesley Educators Association President Kyle Gekopi said. “It’s really been forcing a lot of people to question their choices.”


Most recently, Parents Defending Education filed a federal civil rights complaint on Oct. 4 against Newton North High School.


The group alleged to the United States Department of Education that the school violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Both are meant to protect people from discrimination based on race, color or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. That protection extends to white students, they say.


Parents Defending Education claims the school’s student-led production, “Lost and Found: Stories of People of Color by People of Color,” restricted auditions to only students of color. The show, which organizers described as “a no-cut, cabaret-style show for students of color,” was meant to “provide a safe community space for students of color to express themselves through the performing arts.”


But Newton Public Schools put out a statement stressing that “no one is turned away or excluded from participating” in the play.


Educators far beyond Newton are nervously watching the case unfold. Brian Fitzgerald, president of the Plymouth County Education Association, said Parents Defending Education remind him of activists in past decades who have fought to curtail sex education, making it difficult to teach students about health.


“My fear is that they’re going to impact the ability of a student to learn,” Fitzgerald said.

Republicans across the country are eying Florida Governor DeSantis as the new Trump, who will lead them to victory in 2024.

Given his hard-right politics, it’s hard to understand the breadth of his victory as similar hardliners across the country were losing.

The Miami Herald wrote:

What forecasters predicted would be a “red wave” did make landfall in Florida on Tuesday night, but it washed over so much of the state that it sent only a “ripple” in races across the country as Democrats had a better-than-expected showing up and down the ballot.

Shortly after polls closed on election night, Ron DeSantis quickly and overwhelmingly won a second term as governor, with a margin of victory that reached nearly 20 percentage points statewide. The Republican governor made gains in each of Florida’s 67 counties, managing to flip eight of the 13 counties he had lost in his first election in 2018.

One of those counties — Miami-Dade — is where DeSantis saw his biggest gain, with a 16-point improvement over his 2018 performance. He also improved by nearly 16 points in Hendry County and by more than 14 points in Osceola County.

Those three counties, not coincidentally, are also the three most Hispanic counties in the state, and DeSantis’ ability to win a larger share of Hispanic voters was a key driver of his remarkable victory. The governor also narrowly won the vote in majority white precincts and more than doubled his vote share in majority Black precincts, capturing more than 16% of the vote in those areas.

DeSantis’ decisive victory, contrasted with Republicans’ lackluster performance elsewhere in the country, have become fodder for conservatives, who are increasingly wondering if DeSantis may make a more effective party leader than former President Donald Trump.

  • ☝️ You can watch highlights from DeSantis’ victory speech at our TikTok.

Trump hasn’t enjoyed seeing GOP elected officials and conservative media question his grip over the party….

As DeSantis works to raise his influence at the national level, back in Florida, he is likely to double down on his conservative policy agenda. Republican legislative leaders have signaled they intend to keep moving Florida forward under his vision, including whether to further restrict access to abortion.

Why was abortion a crucial issue in other states, but not in Florida? Why did usually Democratic districts turn red?