In a letter to their members, which includes Texas, the National School Boards Association stated that they “regret and apologize” for a letter that compared parents to domestic terrorists, acknowledging that “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”
The original letter appealed to President Biden and the U.S. Department of Justice for immediate aid to “protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce because of threats to their districts, families, and personal safety.”
It most notably insinuated that disruptive parents could be considered “domestic terrorists” for choosing to vehemently voice their opinions on the curriculum being taught to their children.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland responded to the original letter by issuing a memorandum that called for the creation of a task force to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.”
However, AG Garland testified last Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, where Republican representatives questioned him on the NSBA letter and his response. According to Garland, “The Justice Department supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish about the education of their children, about the curriculum taught in the schools. That is not what the memorandum is about at all, nor does it use the words ‘domestic terrorism’ or ‘PATRIOT Act.’”
Garland and the NSBA’s backtracking follows the parental backlash seen after their original statements.
NSBA President Viola Garcia, who signed the original letter, has just been assigned to the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees and sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the “nationally representative assessment of what American students know and can do in various subjects”).
According to the U.S. Department of Education, “The 26-member Governing Board is responsible for deciding which subjects NAEP assesses, determining the assessments’ content, setting achievement levels that describe student performance, and pursuing new ways to make NAEP results useful and meaningful to the public.”