However, there is now a cloud on the horizon, which threatens more than just one affluent suburban school district. Across Michigan, “parents’ rights” groups are threatening districts with action against curricula, library books and even individual teachers. They target “purple” neighborhoods like Livonia, Rochester, Novi, Bloomfield Hills and others like ours. While some of these efforts may be organic, the Republican Party made no secrets of his use of education as a culture wars issue/this cycle.
Groups like Moms for Liberty, FEC United, and here in Grosse Pointes, Know Your Classroom, have been energized by their opposition to mask mandates and diversity and inclusion efforts that they call a “wake-up call.”
1) Moms for Liberty rooted in Florida, supports various “reforms” imposed by Governor Ron DeSantis and now has 10 chapters in Michigan. The Wayne County Chapter successfully encouraged subscribers to run for the school board. Being a 501c4 “dark money” transaction, there is no transparency vis-à-vis the backers.
2) FEC United, based in Colorado, wants students to be free from “indoctrination.” Its Michigan Chapter web page includes links to lists of what he calls “inappropriate” books in Michigan and the libraries of Grosse Pointe.
3) Know Your Class Grosse Pointes (and neighboring Harper Woods neighborhoods that are also part of the GPPSS) are also grappling with this local operation. When launched last year, KYC was not shy or vague about his request
- A parent’s bill of rights must be adopted.
- Live classrooms so parents can support learning and ‘ensure the right curriculum is being taught’
- Questioning why resources are being diverted from children’s educational needs through the new Council on Race, Equity and Inclusion
- If there are no “meaningful changes made”, members are “prepared to form a community charter school that will implement these policies”
What is happening in Grosse Pointe is an example of what I fear is also happening in other school districts in Michigan. Here there is a controversial school board race among 10 people to fill three seats, KYC sent a poll to all candidates with at least three “push poll” type questions (Does the GPPSS strategic plan emphasize social justice rather than academic excellence?). He will publish the answers in the advertising space of the Grosse Pointe News.
Ideally, KYC is also a 501v4 dark currency. Indeed, black money in school board races becomes a strength in generalists and elsewhere. Two years ago, a slate that included a curious QAnon candidate managed to win half of the four positions up for grabs with a relentless mail and publicity attack.
Even more troubling, a recent post on the KYC Facebook page and website refers to a Fox News article with ways to disrupt “wokeism,” including filing Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and litigation. It reads like a strategy to tie school administration into knots.
Why now? The facade of parent rights and helping all children “succeed” is a thin veneer to what these groups are really after: taking control of the curriculum from experienced education professionals and, more specifically, bring the history curriculum back to the days of Leave It To Beaver. .
Key to this strategy is replacing school board members and administrators who are dedicated to an approach to education that values the range of backgrounds and learning styles of our students. These actions will cause further and irreparable damage to Michigan schools and our economy – something we cannot afford.
Please, before you vote this fall in your own school board election, ask what relationship, if any, do the candidates you support have with these groups?