Local mother Stacy Langton stood before the Fairfax County School Board in a suburb of the nation’s capital two weeks ago, boldly exposing explicit examples of child porn and pedophilia in library books in area schools, available to children as young as 12 years old.
Langton’s witness ended in mayhem because the school board failed to do something very simple: listen to the stakeholders — and taxpayers — who are parents. Board members rudely interrupted Langton during her two minutes of allotted speaking time and called a hasty recess, a board member later incorrectly claiming that he faced two “exorcisms” by parents praying during the meeting.
“Shame! Shame! Shame!” shouted parents, horrified at the cowardice of the board members.
Now, however, instead of recognizing Langton for the hero that she is for protecting children, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has issued a declaration of war on America’s parents.
“I am directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to … [address] threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” he wrote in a memo to FBI Director Christopher Wray and the U.S. attorneys generals on Monday night.
Langton, of course, didn’t threaten anyone. But in this war, facts don’t matter.
In just five days, Garland issued that response to a September 29 letter by the National School Boards Association alleging, incredulously: “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
Neither the school board association nor Garland mentioned the word “parents,” as if to acknowledge us, even in an attack, is to validate us. But we know. It’s now the United States vs. America’s parents.
Parents Taking a Stand
The attacks are clearly directed at the thousands of parents who have valiantly overcome their own fears of retaliation, public speaking, and confrontation to advocate in defense of their children, from Beaverton, Oregon, to South Kingstown, Rhode Island, only to be made a caricature by media outlets from NBC News to CNN and Saturday Night Live.
There is one response parents must have: stand strong in defense of America’s children. Be unapologetic. Reject violence and threats of violence, as you always do. And do not be intimidated, silenced, shamed, or bullied.
Since the COVID pandemic shut schools down in the spring of 2020, school board officials have frustrated parents across the country with mixed messages on reopening schools and diverting attention and taxpayer money to virtue signaling, renaming schools, and promoting divisive activist causes. We have been muted, silenced, and reprimanded.
I know because all of that has happened to me since I first spoke to my school board in early June 2020. As I tried to get the last words of my statement out during public participation this past spring, the school board president yelled at me, “Go to your seat!”
Yet, we persist. Across the country, parents are more empowered than probably at any time in America’s history. At Parents Defending Education, an organization that a group of moms and others started earlier this year, we have tallied more than 160 parent groups that have organically sprung up across the country.
That is a threat to two special-interest groups: teachers unions and the politicians they prop up.
Importantly, the issues we raise before school boards are very close to home for even a political appointee such as Garland. Over the past two weeks, in Fairfax County, Virginia, parents have been challenging a $2.4 million contract with Boston-based Panorama Education.
The contractor will soon begin submitting all county students to a “social and emotional learning screener” unless parents fill out an “opt-out” form (the deadline is this Friday, October 8). Since its founding by two Yale students a few years ago, Panorama Education has built a booming business with school boards, gaining rich contracts collecting data on students with surveys asking questions like: “During the past week, how often did you feel sad?”
Garland’s daughter is married to a co-founder of Panorama Education, Xan Tanner. Parents have raised the concern with the school board that controversial Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is an investor in Panorama Education, sparking concern among parents that the company is data mining their children’s most intimate emotions. The company depends on school boards to approve its multimillion dollars of contracts – without parent dissent.
Attorney General Chills Free Speech
Garland’s memo may chill free speech – and parental opposition to waste, fraud, corruption, and incompetence by school boards. His association of parents with “domestic terrorism” is not only a slap in the face to sincere parents, it is — tragically — a cruel insult to victims of terrorism around the world. As parents, we are accidental activists in service to our children and our country, rejecting violence and actual terrorism.
Late Friday, a coalition of parent groups representing 427,000 members sent a letter to the National School Boards Association stating, “Your letter to President Biden is a thinly veiled threat, intended to intimidate into silence and submission the very constituents that your members ostensibly represent.”
Buried in the footnotes of the school board association’s letter, the slanderous charge of “domestic terrorism” was attributed to incidents including these: winery entrepreneur Jon Tigges getting arrested after he yelled at his school board in Loudoun County, Virginia, for prematurely ending public comments; an “unruly crowd” at a Spotsylvania, Virginia, board meeting; and protesters who dared to “disrupt” a school board in Poway Unified School District, California.
Launching a war on parents is a very serious mistake, not only politically but morally. It is a parent who nurses a child through the night, long after the school bell has rung. Misguided policymakers, politicians, and school board members need to stop making an enemy of parents. Issue a ceasefire. Apologize. And listen.
At Parents Defending Education, we opened an online portal at our website, so parents could send a message to the Justice Department, and parents flooded the portal with 1,508 emails to the Justice Department in the first four hours.
A Mom’s Message
Because of her courage here in Fairfax County, Langton’s issue of child porn and pedophilia in schools has emerged as a national issue, with parents planning to return to the school board this Thursday evening to protest the porn and pedophilia in school library books. Despite the threat by Garland, Langton is undeterred and readying her homemade sign for the Thursday rally with a simple message to school board members: “Resign FairfaXXX.”
Langton won’t be allowed to speak at the school board meeting Thursday, as speakers were chosen by lottery and there are new restrictions on how often a community member can speak. But she will be there, cheering on the other parents. “I won’t be cowed,” she said.
Her message to parents is also simple: “Stand up, parents. Don’t be intimidated.”