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Home OPINION Will Swaim: Garland's attempts to silence parents nothing new for Californians
Will Swaim: Garland's attempts to silence parents nothing new for Californians

Will Swaim: Garland's attempts to silence parents nothing new for Californians

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You may know John Swett as California’s fourth superintendent of public instruction, the man who, at the height of the Civil War, made public schools tuition-free in California.  

What’s less well known is Swett’s weird contempt for families. Swett saw the public school system as a factory for creating people, who “agree at maturity to not the parents but the state, society and the country.” 

Understand that – the idea that Americans belong not to themselves but to “the State” – and you begin to understand why Swett believed the family had to be kept out of any serious discussions about education.  

REPS. STEFANIK & FOXX DEMS WANT TO CONTROL YOUR KID’S EDUCATION. PARENTS WILL BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DRIVER’S SEATS.

He wrote that parents were “an obstacle to modern governance’s complete harmony and unity of actions”. He called the false belief that teachers can dictate to parents legal rights “entirely wrong” The teacher could not dictate to their parents’ homes, but it is clearly wrong for them to do so in their schoolhouse.  

It’s taken 170 years, but Attorney General Merrick Garland delivered earlier this month on Swett’s ambition, directing the FBI to investigate and ultimately silence pesky moms and dads who hold the extremist view that they should have any say in their children’s education.  

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Garland stated that he was answering to a famous letter from the National School Boards Association, in which it claimed that activist parents had committed “domestic terrorism or hate crimes” against members of school boards.  

A close reading of the group’s “evidence” reveals few examples that rise to the level of crimes, and none that would justify the appearance of FBI agents on your doorstep. At worst, they’re examples of elected officials getting some pretty candid – but entirely legal – feedback for decisions that value teacher union demands and wokeness above student needs. The NSBA’s singular citation out of California, for example, was a Poway school board meeting that adjourned early after parents demanded they be let into the boardroom in numbers exceeding COVID restrictions. That incident saw no harm or arrests. 

Local law enforcement has the authority to step in if school board members are being harmed or threatened; any real threats or acts of violence must be dealt with fully, immediately – and locally. The solution is not federal investigation of parents who “crimes” were making school board member feel uneasy. It is indeed a threat to the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech, assembly and petition.  

The nation’s second-largest school district has caved to union pressure and agreed to lock out parents.

Unfortunately for California parents, this is merely the latest move in a well-established trend to remove them from the decision-making process in their children’s lives. 

We don’t have to travel back to the 1860s. Governor. Gavin Newsom, the governor of California signed Assembly Bill 184. Minor children can hide information regarding their medical care from their parents. This includes information concerning abortions or gender-affirming procedures. By requiring insurance companies to keep secret certain medical procedures from parents who are the policyholders, the new law reduces California parents to bill payers who aren’t made aware of, let alone allowed authority over, major and sometimes irreversible operations their children may undergo.  

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Consider the United Teachers Los Angeles contract.This union represents half a billion children who are educated by 30,000 educators. In addition to giving teachers raises while reducing live instruction time, the new contract expressly prohibits parents from recording a teacher without the instructor’s approval. This clause is intended to reverse one of the many silver linings that came from the forced Zoom schooling in the last year and half. Parents finally saw what was happening in the classrooms.  

The nation’s second-largest school district has caved to union pressure and agreed to lock out parents, or at least assure they’re not allowed to collect proof of what’s being taught in their child’s classroom.  

And now, lawmakers are working to remove the personal- and religious-belief exemption from Newsom’s sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, just as they did in 2015 for other childhood vaccines. Completely disregarding the importance of parents making health care decisions for their minor children, the bill’s author, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, declared parental authority in such matters as a “loophole” that needs closing. John Swett would delight. 

J.D. Vance calls on AG Garland to resign, says he is ‘weaponizing’ the government against parents Video

The billionaire teacher unions have been the most vocal in California’s management of schools. They influence public policy from the state to the classroom through lobbying and campaign contributions. It’s evident in the decisions to keep California schools locked down more than any other in the nation while the state enjoyed the nation’s lowest COVID rates. It’s positively clear in the effort to gut the state’s charter schools despite their exemplary performance during the pandemic. And it’s painfully obvious in the push to enact a new math curriculum that eliminates advanced math courses for gifted students and threads critical race theory into the lessons.  

It’s this imbalance of power and priorities that has moved so many parents to begin attending school board meetings. Californians take the initiative when speech is restricted. California has 23 active recalls of school boards, which is more than twice the amount in other states. They’re unfolding in both the reddest and bluest parts of the state. They serve as an important sign that the status quo isn’t working for parents, and a motivation for the National School Boards Association to do everything in its power to try to silence parents.  

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That’s why my organization, the California Policy Center, is asking parents everywhere to call for local officials to end their support of the National School Boards Association, and to tell Merrick Garland to rescind his unconstitutional and dangerous move to silence parents 

Unions and the school board members they elect have a voice – a loud one. Garland’s ill-intentioned attempt to silence parents will continue, and no one else will stand up for the children. We’ll be left instead with John Swett’s dystopian ambition of unchecked education bureaucrats. That’s the real threat to public safety. 

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