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New school boards challenge woke bureaucracy that leaves kids behind

OpinionNew school boards challenge woke bureaucracy that leaves kids behind

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America’s education establishment is slowly crumbling and the National School Boards Association’s public meltdown in 2021 paved the way. As the influence of NSBA wanes, a national network of reformist school board associations is rising to take its place, with a commitment to academic achievement and parents’ rights. 

Before its precipitous fall, NSBA worked behind the scenes for decades, quietly steering the nation’s school boards to preach social justice, institutional racism, sexual nonconformity, and the “equitable” redistribution of students’ grades, while remaining conspicuously unconcerned about student performance. 

Their political biases were exposed, however, in September 2021, when NSBA infamously requested that the Biden administration use the power of federal law enforcement to silence parents who vocally opposed NSBA’s radical policies. 


In NSBA’s own words, criticizing critical race theory and mask mandates during school board meetings could be considered acts of domestic terrorism. As such, dissenting parents should be investigated under the Patriot Act by the FBI, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security. An earlier draft of the NSBA letter requested military police from the National Guard. 

Parents at school board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia.

Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County School Board meeting about critical race theory in Ashburn, Virginia, on June 22, 2021. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

Attorney General Merrick Garland immediately directed the FBI and Department of Justice to create task forces to investigate in every federal judicial district. A report by Parents Defending Education later revealed that NSBA acted on behalf of Biden’s Department of Education and colluded with the White House to draft the letter. NSBA had become an organ of government authoritarianism and not an advocate for student learning. 

In the ensuing public uproar, NSBA tried to walk back the letter and apologized to its membership, but notably not to the parents it targeted. Regardless, Garland refused to disband the taskforces or stop investigating private citizens.  

NSBA’s membership plummeted. More than half of its constituent school board associations disaffiliated, but NSBA deepened its commitment to radical ideology. NSBA promoted former Chief Transformational Officer Verjeana McCotter-Jacobs, Esq., into the role of CEO, touting her accomplishments in “member services, equity, and social justice to identify discriminatory practices, prejudices, and beliefs in education policy.” No mention of student learning.  


It seems likely that state school board associations left NSBA merely to save face. According to many reform-minded school board members, the behavior of the state associations is little changed. They routinely direct school board members to rubber stamp the decisions of the superintendent, pass unsustainable budgets and undermine parents’ rights.  

In response, an army of advocates for academic achievement are challenging school board association monopolies in their home states. As many as 30 competing associations have formed since the NSBA controversy. As the NSBA and state school board associations retrench on the left-wing fringe, school board reformers are passing policies that prioritize student achievement to confront the objective failures of the education system.  

Reformist school board associations are expanding rapidly in Arizona, California, the Carolinas, Kansas, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin, and many other states. These organizations are replacing the radical ideology of the NSBA network with an academically focused competitor, called School Boards for Academic Excellence. 


America’s education system is undergoing a much-needed overhaul. School choice has seen massive growth in the last three years, but 90% of America’s more than 50 million students remain under the purview of the local school board.  

Thanks to the rise of reform-minded state school board associations, these students will not be left behind. A much-needed course correction is on the horizon and these emerging groups are leading the way, bringing excellence back to education. 


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