This week, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association voted unanimously to withdraw from the National School Board Association (NBSA) after the latter sent a letter to President Biden comparing angry parents’ speeches at school board meetings to “domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” The request for federal law enforcement to step in and silence parents and other critics may be remarkable in its brazenness (even if threats of violence were made, that is a matter for local police, not the feds), but it is the natural extension of other federal interventions in local schools. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association, like many other organizations and millions of parents, is finally pushing back against top-down control of education.
We might quibble about what constituted the proverbial last straw for these disaffiliations, but Covid-related reactions do seem to have galvanized a movement to decentralize control of education. Perhaps more parents saw the absurdities of schooling when it took place in their own living rooms, instead of behind closed doors. Others saw teachers’ unions politicizing reopenings with little consideration of what was best for learners.