Attacks On Public Education Accelerating In Pennsylvania, And Across The Country

An American flag is in a classroom as students work on laptops in Newlon Elementary School early Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, which is one of 55 Discovery Link sites set up by Denver Public Schools where students are participating in remote learning in this time of the new coronavirus from a school in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By Brett Pransky

May 18, 2022

As soon as red-vested culture warrior and GOP candidate for Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin rode a tidal wave of parental fear and CRT misinformation to victory last November, everyone knew attacks on education would only become more and more popular.

And that is exactly what has happened. 

In recent testimony on the floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Republican State Rep. Steve Drazkowski called for the complete elimination of early childhood education.

In Tennessee, a state lawmaker proposed the creation of a state-run commission to find books not deemed “age appropriate,” and when asked what he would do with those books, he replied “I would burn them.

And in Pennsylvania, the attacks have taken on an equally ugly tone, with dark-money funded parent groups driving a campaign of book banning and attacks on local school boards, and that money is scoring some victories.

At present, only Texas has banned more books than Pennsylvania, and just a few months ago, one of these groups managed to get a court order to oust 5 school board members from their elected offices, though the decision was later reversed.

And recently, several right-wing media outlets have coordinated a campaign to accuse teachers of “grooming” children for sexual abuse — a disgusting smear designed to create mistrust between parents and teachers.

And Pennsylvania’s Republican legislators are getting the message. PA Rep. Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) recently posted on social media asking members of the controversial dark money group “Moms for Liberty” to become substitute teachers so they can spy on school staff. Gleim stated her goal is to add “conservative eyes and ears in the schools.”

While the attacks come from many different directions, support for them nearly always leads back to dark money political action committees (PACs) – and often to the wealthy individuals that fund them – who share an interest in the money that can be made by breaking unions, defunding public education, and privatizing schools.

The legitimacy of these campaigns and the motives behind them are difficult to assess, as all communities differ and all school systems run somewhat differently. But what we do know is that the money driving the attacks on schools is massive, and it is rarely local.


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