Archives for category: Home Schooling

Molly Olmsted wrote in Slate about the role of Christian conservatives in promoting the home school movement. Their blunt instrument is fear. Public schools, they warn, will expose your children to all sorts of dangers: secular education, non-believers, bad children, teachers grooming your children to be gay or trans, indoctrination into radical ideas, exposure to books about racism. The list goes on and on.

It used to be considered an advantage of public schools that they introduced children to others unlike themselves. It prepares children to live in the world when they have friends who are of a different race, religion, ethnicity, or economic status. But this frightens the home schoolers.

The recent spate of school shootings gives them yet another reason to school their children at home.

She writes:

The morning after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the Federalist published an op-ed with the headline “Tragedies Like the Texas Shooting Make a Somber Case for Homeschooling.”

In the essay, the author immediately dismissed calls for gun control as petty and insincere, offering home-schooling as the true solution to keep children safe. “It is clear now from the long list of school shootings in recent years that families can’t trust government schools, in particular, to bring their children or teachers home safely at the end of the day,” the author wrote.

On first blush, the idea is somewhat understandable or, at least, relatable; it’s natural for parents to look for ways to protect their children. But then the author added, “The same institutions that punish students for ‘misgendering’ people and hide curriculum from parents are simply not equipped to safeguard your children from harm.”

And the “parental rights” political agenda emerged.

Many politically powerful conservatives promote home-schooling as a way to undercut or weaken the influence of public schools, and to shield their children from the liberalism they believe public schools foster. The Federalist was just one of anumber of conservative voices calling for home-schooling in the wake of the Uvalde tragedy. (And there were plenty of news stories about parents who were considering it.)

But the groundwork of the movement was laid by conservative Christians who have been working for years to siphon power from public schools, pushing both home-schooling and parental rights legislation at the state and federal level. It’s just that finally, their ideas are becoming mainstream.

As she shows, the home school movement has been building for decades, and its leaders will use any excuse to attack public schools.

There are many problems with home schooling, starting with the fact that most children will learn no more that their parents. Few parents are equipped to teach history, science, math, literature, and foreign languages. Schools have teachers who are expert in these subjects. Home schooling is a recipe for mass dumbing down. It is also a sure fire way to indoctrinate children into the religious beliefs of their families.

Several years ago, when I first wrote about a particularly noxious home school story, I was bombarded by dozens of comments from outraged home school parents. How dare I, they asked in indignation. They sincerely believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong. They are entitled to their opinion. It’s a free country.

So be it. I am not a state legislature or a federal judge. I think they are miseducating their children. That’s my opinion.

Conservatives used to be known as people resistant to radical change. In decades past, conservatives sought to conserve traditional institutions and make them better. That stance appealed to many Americans who were unsettled by radical ideas, opposed to big-box stores that would wipe out small-town America’s Main Street. Conservatives were also known for opposing government intrusion into personal decisions; what you did in your bedroom was your business, not the state’s. What you and your doctor decided was best for you was your decision, not the state’s.

Chris Rufo is the face of the New Conservatism, who wants to frighten the parents of America into tearing down traditional institutions, especially the public school that they and their family attended.

Rufo became well-known for creating a national panic about “critical race theory,” which he can’t define and doesn’t understand. But he seems to think that schools are controlled by racist pedagogues and sexual perverts. In his facile presentation at Hillsdale College, one of the most conservative institutions of higher education in the nation, he makes clear that America has fallen from its position as a great and holy nation to a slimepit of moral corruption.

He has two great Satans in his story: public schools and the Disney Corporation. The Disney Corporation, in his simple mind, is a haven for perverts and pedophiles, bent on corrupting the youth of the nation.

Rufo asserts, based on no discernible evidence, that the decline and fall of America can be traced to the failed revolution of 1968. The radicals lost, as Nixon was elected that year, but burrowed into the pedagogical and cultural institutions, quietly insinuating their sinister ideas about race and sex into the mainstream, as the nation slept. Rufo’s writings about “critical race theory,” which he claims is embedded in schools, diversity training in corporations, and everywhere else he looked, made him a star on Tucker Carlson’s show, an advisor to the Trump White House, and a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute. Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote a profile of Rufo in The New Yorker and identified him as the man who invented the conflict over critical race theory, which before Rufo was a topic for discussion in law schools.

Before Rufo’s demonization of CRT, it was known among legal scholars as a debate about whether racism was fading away or whether it was systemic because it was structured into law and public policy. I had the personal pleasure of discussing these ideas in the mid-1980s with Derrick Bell, who is generally recognized as the founder of CRT. Bell was then at the Harvard Law School, after working as a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He reached the conclusion that the Brown Decision of 1954 was inadequate to root out systematic racism.

At the time, I was a centrist in my politics and believed that racism was on its way out. Derrick disagreed. We spoke for hours, he invited me to present a paper at a conference he was organizing, which I did. Contrary to Rufo, I can attest that Derrick Bell was not a Marxist. He was not a radical. He wanted an America where people of different races and backgrounds had decent lives, unmarred by racial barriers. He was thoughtful, gentle, one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. He wanted America to be the land it professed to be. He was a great American.

Was 1968 the turning point, after which the radicals took over our culture and destroyed our founding ideals, as Rufo claims? No, it was not. I was there. He was born in 1984. He’s blowing smoke, making up a fairy-tale that he has spun into a narrative.

In 1968, I turned 30. I had very young children. I was not sympathetic to the hippies or the Weather Underground or the SDS. I hated the Vietnam War, but I was not part of any organized anti-war group. I believed in America and its institutions, and I was firmly opposed to those who wanted to tear them down, as the Left did then and as the Right does now. I worked in the Humphrey campaign in 1968 and organized an event in Manhattan—featuring John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and a long lineup of “liberals for Humphrey”— that was disrupted and ruined by pro-Vietnam Cong activists. That event, on the eve of the 1968 election, convinced me that Nixon would win. (While my event was disrupted, Nixon held a campaign rally a block away, at Madison Square Garden, that was not disrupted.)

1968 was the year that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. It was a horrible, depressing year. America seemed to be falling apart.

Did the Weathermen and other radicals begin a long march through the institutions and eventually capture them? That’s ridiculous. Some became professors, but none became college presidents, to my knowledge. Many were ostracized. Some went to prison for violent crimes. Those who played an active political role in 1968 are in their 80s now, if they are alive.

Rufo’s solution to what he sees as the capture of our institutions by racists and pedophiles is surpringly simple: school choice. He hopes everyone will get public money to send their children to private and religious schools, to charter schools, or to home school them. If only we can destroy public schools, he suggests, we can restore America to the values of 1776.

Good old 1776, when most black people were slaves, women had no rights, and the aristocracy made all the decisions. They even enjoyed conjugal rights to use their young female slaves. Those were the good old days, in the very simple mind of Christopher Rufo.

Turning the clock back almost 250 years! Now that’s a radical idea.

I’m posting again—this time with the link!

This interview with education journalist Jennifer Berkshire is worth reading. Good questions, sharp answers.

Shockingly, Berkshire predicts that several states will “phase out” public schools, presumably to be replaced by a smorgasbord of choices: charters, vouchers, online schooling, homeschooling, and more.

What do you think?

Inspired perhaps by the anti-public school rhetoric of Betsy DeVos or funded perhaps by billionaire Charles Koch or encouraged by Trump’s white evangelical base, Oklahoma Republicans are proposing a bill that would crush public schools.

Not content to open more privately managed charters or to offer more vouchers to disgruntled parents, Republicans want to use public money to pay for whatever parents want to do. Jeanne Allen of the pro-privatization Center for Education Reform has for many years referred to this approach as a “backpack full of cash.” Give parents the money that previously went to public schools and let them decide whether to spend it on home-school, charters, vouchers, computers, tutors or whatever.

Jennifer Palmer of Oklahoma Watch writes that the ultimate goal of this approach is to abandon the state constitution’s pledge to support a public school system, replacing it with a ragtag array of choices. She doesn’t say it, but I will. This plan, if enacted, will undermine the quality of education in the state and set back the education of Oklahoma’s children. Instead of improving schools, it will turn the money for public schools into a grab bag.

She writes:

Of the 2,300 bills filed by state lawmakers for the upcoming session, which starts Monday, the one I will be watching most closely is Senate Bill 1647 by Senate leader Greg Treat. He’s calling it the Oklahoma Empowerment Act.

The legislation would create universal vouchers by giving any parent a state-funded account for their child’s education.

The funds could be used on private school tuition, homeschool expenses, tutoring, books, computers, supplies, transportation to school and many other qualifying expenses. The effect would be moving public funds to private entities lacking in accountability and transparency.

The bill envisions each student in the state with a backpack full of money and carrying it to the educational options their parents choose. It’s similar to Epic Charter School’s learning fund but on a much larger scale (and Epic’s learning fund is under audit for possible misuse of public funds for private gain by the school’s co-founders.)

Groups advocating for school choice, like ChoiceMatters and Every Kid Counts Oklahoma (whose executive director is Ryan Walters, secretary of education and a candidate for state superintendent), champion the idea with slogans like “fund students, not systems.” The mantra is also repeated by Yes. every kid., a social welfare organization started by Charles Koch, the billionaire owner of Koch Industries…

The Oklahoma State Constitution says: THE LEGISLATURE SHALL ESTABLISH A SYSTEM OF FREE PUBLIC SCHOOLS WHEREIN ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE STATE MAY BE EDUCATED.

The Legislature is specifically charged with maintaining a system of public schools. The bill, if passed, could be challenged on these grounds.

That’s not the only concern I’m hearing. As written, there is no testing requirement for students in the bill, which is required by most other states with voucher programs, according to a2021 comparison by the Education Commission of the States.

That means there would be little way for the public to ascertain the quality of the education these students are receiving. Oklahoma already has the most lax homeschool law in the country, and private schools report almost no data, even when they receive funds through the current school choice programs: the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Fund and the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship program.

Treat’s bill does not prohibit private schools from discriminating against students if they are LGBTQ or pregnant or for a number of other reasons (private schools can’t, though, discriminate on the basis of race if they are tax-exempt.) The proposal states an education provider “shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum” to accept payments from the program.

Treat, recognizing the sure-fire opposition to this proposal, in a video with ChoiceMatters last week said: “There’s going to be plenty of criticisms to hear. Just put on the armor. Get ready for the fight. It’s going to be a fight. But our kids are worth it.”

So says the legislator whose plan violates the state constitution, destroys the state’s public schools, and guarantees that the quality of education will sharply decline as the grifters and religious zealots make their pitch for taxpayer dollars.

Readers of this blog have followed the advance of privatization of public school funding for nearly a decade. We know the big foundations and individuals that support privatization. We have followed their activities and watched as all of their strategies have failed to match their promises. The great puzzle, to me, is the indifference of the mainstream media. While they cover political scandals of every variety, they are just not interested in the sustained campaign to divert public money to schools there privately managed,to religious schools, to other private schools, and even to homeschooling. The media rightly criticized Betsy DeVos’s crusade for school choice, but as soon as she left office, they lost interest in the issue. Meanwhile, red states are rushing to open more charter schools and fund more vouchers.

Maurice Cunningham explored this issue in a recent post on the blog of the MassPoliticsProfs. He chastises the Boston Globe, but the same complaint could be directed to most mainstream media.

He begins:

Suppose WalMart swept into Boston and spent millions to acquire Market Basket. The town would go ballistic. It would be covered every day in every media outlet, front page of the Boston Globe. But the Walton Family Foundation of Arkansas—the exact same heartless* mercenaries—spends millions of dollars to take over public schools and it gets ignored. Why is that?

He discusses “Hidden Politics” and “the Politics of Pretending.” He has written frequently about astroturf groups and how they present themselves to a gullible media as authentic spokesmen for parents or for some other groups.

That’s the PR facade, he says. What really matters is: who is funding these groups? Why doesn’t the media care?

I always thought that if out-of-state billionaires could be proven to have entered the state using local fronts to change Massachusetts education policy that would be a great, great, great story. I’ve been proven wrong again, and again, and again. I still think it’s a great story, it’s just a great story that only gets told at a small political science blog. Why is that?

Why is that?

Since today is New Hampshire Day on the blog, I am reposting this article.

Since the 2020 election, Republicans have controlled both houses of the New Hampshire. The governor is Chris Sununu, a very conservative Republican and son of John Sununu, who was chief of staff to George H.W. Bush. In other words, New Hampshire is controlled by very conservative Republicans, even though the state has two Democratic Senators.

Sununu appointed a home schooler, Frank Edelblut, as his Commissioner of Education. His chief credential seems to be his contempt for public schooling.

Edelblut just made a new hire. He chose one of Betsy DeVos’s team to be New Hampshire’s Director of Learner Support. Her name is McKenzie Snow, and she is a voucher advocate like her old boss and her new boss. She was in charge of pushing vouchers while at the U.S. Department of Education. She was a consultant to Trump’s controversial “1776 Commission,” which attempted to promote a conservative version of history, minimizing racism and other shameful episodes in our history.

Although she will be in charge of “learner support,” she apparently was never a teacher.

New Hampshire NPR reports:

If confirmed, McKenzie Snow will direct the Division of Learner Support, overseeing student assessments, technical assistance for schools, student wellness, student support, adult education, and career and technical education.

Prior to working at the U.S. Department of Education for two and a half years, Snow analyzed and advocated for school choice reform as a policy director at ExcelinEd, a non-profit founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and directed by former House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor.

She also worked on educational issues at the conservative Charles Koch Foundation and Charles Koch Foundation Institutes, according to her LinkedIn account.

During her tenure at the U.S. Department of Education and ExcelinEd, Snow championed Education Savings Accounts (ESA’s), which give taxpayer dollars to parents to spend on approved educational programs of their choice, including private school and home school.

Snow’s confirmation is expected at the Executive Council meeting this Wednesday.

Betsy DeVos made the goal of school choice clear: Shift public dollars away from public schools and transfer them to privately managed charter schools, online schools, for-profit schools, home schools, and vouchers for religious schools. She never supported public schools. Her actions emboldened her followers in Red States to make a full frontal attack on public education. Please share this information on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Alert your friends and colleagues. The attack on public education rolls on, despite the overwhelming evidence that charter schools do not get better results than public schools unless they cherrypick their students, and voucher schools get worse results, while most avoid accountability and transparency.

The Red State governors want to fund failure, instead of adequately and equitably funding their most important responsibility: the public schools.

In this article, Carol Burris–with research assistance of Anthony Cody and Marla Kilfoyle–of the Network for Public Education reports on the action in the states to advance privatization of public funds.

It is school choice week. Across the country, conservative state legislators are sponsoring “school choice” bills that would divert public funds to charter schools, online schools, and/or private and religious schools and homeschools.  

The 2020 election resulted in gains for Libertarian Republicans in statehouses who are now aggressively pushing school voucher bills, whether they be through the use of devices such as “Education Opportunity Accounts,” tax credits, or direct subsidies from state tax dollars. These bills would have a devastating impact on the funds available to support public schools struggling through the pandemic.   

But of course, that is the point. Make no mistake. Those proposing these bills are hostile to both the idea and the ideals of district-run public schools.

In addition to new voucher programs, state legislators are also promoting the expansion of charter schools, the imposition of capricious regulations on public schools, and the undermining of their democratic governance.

In Iowa, the Governor has proposed a law that would allow the state board, as well as districts, to authorize charter schools, thus placing charters in school districts that do not want them. A bill under consideration in Missouri would authorize a dramatic expansion of charter schools and make it simple for a small minority of voters to initiate a recall of elected school board members. Kansas legislators are pushing to allow public funds to flow to private schools with little public oversight, and New Hampshire legislators are again pushing a universal voucher program. 

Here is a summary of some of the bills that have been introduced.

Arizona 

Over three years, Senate Bill 1041 would increase the amount the state spends on corporate School Tuition Organization vouchers, from $5 million to $20 million. In 2017, tax dollars diverted into deductible voucher “donations” exceeded a billion dollars, providing “donors” with a dollar for dollar tax credits. Senate Bill 1452 expands the state’s ESA voucher. 

In a move hostile toward public schools,  Senate Bill 1058  requires schools to compile and publish a list of every resource used in classrooms the previous year — including online videos, articles, and websites. The purpose of this burdensome requirement is to allow parents to opt their child out if they do not agree with the instructional content. In what is clearly a show of hostility to district public schools, the bill does not apply to private schools, including those whose students receive vouchers, and charter schools have more relaxed rules. 

Florida 

Florida SB 48 aims to merge and expand the multiple voucher programs that already exist into two programs. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “the 158-page proposal would merge the state’s five key school choice programs and make them all state-funded. It would also convert the scholarships into more flexible education savings accounts by merging the state-funded Family Empowerment Scholarship program, an ESA program, with the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, and the Hope Scholarship Program. Also, it would merge the McKay Scholarship Program for Students with Disabilities with the Gardiner Scholarship Program under a new name–the McKay-Gardiner Scholarship Program.”

Make no mistake–these are not scholarships in the traditional sense–provided when a needy student receives tuition-help because she has attained high grades. These “scholarships” are all disguised vouchers to private and religious schools, resulting in taxpayers paying for private school education. If passed, this bill would also reduce the frequency of audits to detect fraud from every year to once every three years, increase the yearly growth rate of voucher programs, and via ESAs, expand the use of public funds. 

Georgia 

House Bill 60 is a neo-voucher that would allow students who withdraw from a local public school to take state funding with them to use as a scholarship to a private school. In Georgia, about 50% of school funding comes from the state. This would have a devastating effect on school districts who would likely lose far more than they would save by an individual student’s withdrawal. One of the eligibility criteria for this ESA voucher is that a student’s school not be 100% open for in-person instruction, thus targeting schools whose elected leaders have made decisions about the safety of their school communities.  As with many of these proposals, the pandemic is being exploited to advance a privatization agenda.

Indiana  

 House Bill 1005 would greatly expand the state’s voucher program by allowing families with incomes up to $145,000 a year to participate. That amount is near twice the median income of families in the state and provides taxpayer assistance to families who can already comfortably afford to send their child to a private school. According to an estimate from the Legislative Services Agency, it could increase the number of students receiving state stipends by about 40% in 2021-22.

Some 12,000 students already attending such schools would be eligible for state funding–costing taxpayers $100 million in the first year alone. In addition, the bill would add a new “Education Savings Accounts,” which would be made available to parents with students with special needs. 

 Iowa 

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed SSB 1065, (now known as SF 159) which is being fast-tracked through the state Senate.  This “school choice” bill would:

  • Provide up to $5,200 per student in “state scholarships” for parents to use for private school tuition or homeschooling expenses. 
  • Greatly expand charter schools in the state by allowing applicants to start a charter school by going straight to the state board, bypassing the school district.
  • Allow students to transfer out of their local public schools with a voluntary or court-ordered diversity plan

According to Senator Pam Jochum, this bill is being fast-tracked because, “Obviously, the faster they move it, the less chance there is for push back from the public that’s not happy with this kind of a change because it will take about $54 million and shift it from public education to private.”

Kansas:

House Bill 2068 and Senate Bill 61 are allegedly designed to expand school vouchers in the state via a tax credit program. They are, at their core, an attempt to create a taxpayer-funded invitation to discriminate. 

According to the Kansas School Boards Association, these bills would allow private schools that discriminate in admissions based on achievement, religion, gender, disability, or sexual preference to participate in the tax-credit program. They would neither be required to be accredited nor report student results. 

“Scholarships” created by these tax dollars could be as generous as $8,000.

Kentucky 

House Bill 149 would create a new “Education Opportunity Account” program that would allow participants to divert their tax dollars into accounts to be used as voucher funds for private or parochial school tuition.   

Missouri 

There is only one intent of Senate Bill 55–to destroy public education in Missouri. It was pushed through the Senate Education Committee last week. This mega bill began as two Senate bills to create vouchers and expand charters. They were then loaded onto SSB 55 at the last minute, which included provisions hostile to public education that have never even had a public hearing. According to the Missouri School Boards Association, the bill now includes:

  • School Board Member Recall: Requires an election to recall a school board member if a petition is submitted signed by at least 25% of the number of voters in the last school board election. It would also restrict members of the state board of education to one term.
  • Education Scholarship Account/Vouchers: Creates up to $100 million in tax credits for donations to an organization that gives out scholarships for students to attend a home school or private school – including for-profit virtual schools.
  • Charter School Expansion: Authorizes charter schools to be opened in an additional 61 school districtslocated in Jackson, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis counties or in cities of 30,000 or more and allows charters opened in provisionally and unaccredited districts to remain open even after the school district regains accreditation.
  • Direct Access to Virtual Charter Schools: Allows students enrolling in MOCAP (The Missouri CourseAccess and Virtual School Program) full time to apply directly to the vendor, thus pushing the resident school district and professional educators out of the process.

New Hampshire

House Bill 20 would create a universal voucher program entitled “Education Freedom Accounts,” which would take state dollars from monies allocated to support public schools and give them directly to parents to use for private school tuition, homeschooling costs, and other education-related expenses. The per-student amount would range from $3,786 and $8,458 based on eligibility and costs.  

Conclusion

During her 2019 appearance at the Education Writers Association, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attempted to re-define the very definition of what public education is. 

“Let’s stop and rethink the definition of public education,” she said. “Today, it’s often defined as one type of school, funded by taxpayers, controlled by government. But if every student is part of ‘the public,’ then every way and every place a student learns is ultimately of benefit to ‘the public.’ That should be the new definition of public education.” 

According to DeVos’s definition, public education, as we know, it is “government education”, while the term public education is used as a substitute for the word “learning.” Take your child to a museum—by DeVos’s reasoning, that is “public education.” Teach them how to ride a horse, or how to storm Congress to air your grievance—according to this definition that would be “public education” as well. 

This is not just rhetoric—it is at the heart of the right-wing Libertarian philosophy that believes that parents should be fully in charge of where and what children learn. The bills that are being pushed in statehouses across America represent that philosophy.

Persuading Americans to buy into such a radical concept took years of work. Joseph P. Overton, an electrical engineer, was senior vice president of the right-wing Mackinac Center for Public Policy in the 1990s until he died in 2003. The Mackinac Center is located in Michigan, Betsy DeVos’s home state. Overton is most known for creating the Overton Window—a means by which to analyze and rebrand extreme policies to make them more acceptable to the public. According to Overton, only those policies identified as “in the window” are politically possible. Therefore, if one wishes to make the unacceptable or unthinkable acceptable, the solution is to shift the window.   

According to Mackinac, the example Overton often used to illustrate the window’s movement is the changed public perception of school choice. In the 1980s, advocating for charter schools was politically dangerous. As charters became more acceptable, so did school choice, which in turn allowed conservative politicians to advocate for homeschooling, private school tax credits, and charter expansion. 

And here we are today. What was once unthinkable–the dismantling of our nation’s public schools–is now a real possibility. 

It is up to those who believe in the promise of public education to join together, recognize these legislative attempts for what they are, and defeat them before it is too late. If we do not act, there may be choices, but democratically governed public schools will not be one of them.

Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed legislation to take money away from Ohio public schools and divert it to privately managed schools, vouchers for religious schools, charter schools, and home schooling. She is following in the footsteps of Betsy DeVos, who spent four years trying to eradicate public schools.

If you live in Iowa, contact your legislator and Governor Reynolds! Speak up for your public schools! Resist the privatization of public funds!

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds proposed SSB 1065, (now known as SF 159) which is being fast-tracked through the state Senate.  The vote may be today. This “school choice” bill would:

  • Provide up to $5,200 per student in “state scholarships” for parents to use for private school tuition or homeschooling expenses. 
  • Greatly expand charter schools in the state by allowing applicants to start a charter school by going straight to the state board, bypassing the school district.  No longer would districts be the only decider for charter schools. 

If you love your public schools, you need to drop what you are doing and get to work!

1. Call your state senators NOW and ask them to support public schools by OPPOSING Senate File 159, SSB 1065. Or say, “I oppose the school choice voucher/charter bill.” You can find your Senator and their phone number by going here. Click on their name for their phone number.

2Click here and send an email in opposition to SSB 1065/SF 159  NOW.

3. Share this link with friends and family who live in the state

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/save-iowa-public-schools-oppose/

Don’t wait. Act now. 

Carol Burris

Executive Director

Network for Public Education

The House Republican conference just indulged in a sick joke: It assigned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to the House Education and Labor Committee. Rep. Greene has identified with the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe that Democrats and large sectors of the federal government are controlled by a Satanic ring of pedophiles. She has endorsed the vile claim that the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, were staged or “false flag” operations, intended to build political support for gun control.

Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week reports:

A Washington Post story on Jan. 22 highlighted how, in response to a 2018 comment on Facebook that recent school shootings weren’t real, now-U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said, “That’s all true.” She expressed a similar sentiment about the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Facebook in a separate comment that year that the social-media site later removed. 

Several advocacy groups that support robust gun-control measures, including March For Our Lives-Parkland, Moms Demand Action, and Everytown for Gun Safety have called on Greene to resign in light of those comments, the Post reported. 

Greene also has made national headlines for months due to her support for QAnon, the name used for a range of conspiracy theories that have been termed a domestic terrorist threat by the FBI.

In response to questions from Education Week about Rep. Greene’s education priorities and concerns about her past comments on school shootings, spokesman Nick Dyer did not address her comments on the shootings.

“Congresswoman Greene is excited to join the House Education and Labor Committee. Rep. Greene is ready to get to work to reopen every school in America, expand school choice, protect homeschooling, champion religious freedom for student and teachers, and prevent men and boys from unfairly competing with women and girls in sports,” Dyer said in an email.

Earlier this month, Greene announced her support for legislation that would require schools to prevent “biological males” from competing in women’s sports, in order to demonstrate compliance with federal Title IX law...

A relatively large share of the Republicans slated to join the committee are freshmen. In fact, out of 24 total GOP members due to join the committee, 11 just started their first terms in Congress; go here for the list of new members about to join the panel. (Republicans announced new appointments to the committee on Monday, but technically they won’t be official until the GOP conference and full House approves them.)

Another prominent GOP freshman on the list is Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., who spoke at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally in front of the White House shortly before a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were voting to certify the presidential election results.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt accepted the resignation of Melissa Crabtree, whom he appointed four days earlier. Crabtree is a home-schooling parent who has vociferously opposed any mask mandate. She was selected to replace Kurt Bollenbach, also appointed by Stitt, who wanted to claw back millions from a for-profit virtual charter and who believed that students should wear masks in school. Bollenbach was too sane and reasonable for Governor Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s new appointee to the state Board of Education spent months sharing debunked COVID-19 medical advice, conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine content before hiding the posts from public view shortly after news of her new position became public Friday.

According to The Oklahoman:

Enid resident Melissa Crabtree was named to the education board after Stitt abruptly removed board member Kurt Bollenbach, who the governor appointed in 2019.

Crabtree is a vocal anti-mask advocate who earlier this year founded a group called Enid Freedom Fighters, which had helped for months to block a mask mandate in the city and is now leading an effort to recall elected officials who supported the move. Enid’s mask mandate passed Tuesday on a third attempt, according to an Enid News & Eagle story.

Stitt’s pick was condemned Friday by Democrats in the Legislature who criticized Crabtree’s views on masks and her lack of public education experience.

Information reviewed by Oklahoma Watch also shows that Crabtree frequently took to Facebook to share other controversial opinions, unsubstantiated medical advice and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed at least 1,860 Oklahomans.

The posts were either deleted or hidden from public view just before noon Friday, but Oklahoma Watch was able to review and capture screenshots of several postings before that occurred.

This includes a post from last month where Crabtree, who frequently posts on the supposed benefits of essential oils, claimed to her more than 400 followers that zinc could “stop Covid from duplicating” and “will help a body not freak out at an illness…”

In another post from July, Crabtree told her followers to seek out a viral video where a doctor falsely touted hydroxychloroquine as a COVID cure. Multiple claims in that video have been debunked by fact-checkers.

Crabtree went on to write that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has “known that hydroxychloroquine worked for 15 years” and, without providing any evidence to back up her claims, that “they are purposely distorting the studies and letting people die.”

Crabtree also posted multiple times endorsing the controversial strategy of achieving herd immunity without the use of widespread vaccinations. This includes a post from last week where she wrote that “once viruses are here, the way we get herd immunity is by people building immunity to the virus” and that she’d “rather have (the virus) than get the vaccine.

Apparently even Governor Stitt was embarrassed by his selection. And now he is looking for a new member of the State Board. Hopefully it will be someone who cares about the health and safety of students and teachers, and someone willing to call out grifters and frauds.