The U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday that it launched the National Parents and Families Engagement Council (NAFSCE) “to facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents, families and caregivers. Families’ voices play a critical role in how the nation’s children are recovering from the pandemic.”
The council “consists of parent, family, or caregiver representatives from national organizations.”
This news comes after reports that Nebraska became the 25th state to withdraw from the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Did the Biden administration create the NAFSCE in response to the backlash?
The trouble began last September when two former executives at NSBA asked President Joe Biden via letter to bring in the federal government to investigate concerned parents who attended local school board meetings, comparing parents to domestic terrorists.
Parents spoke against schools teaching about the divisive critical race theory and homosexuality and complained about school shutdowns and children having to wear masks all day once schools opened. School board members claimed parents threatened physical violence.
Attorney General Merrick Garland responded that he would task the FBI to work with state and local governments to investigate so-called threats.
After a backlash from parents — and states withdrawing membership — the NSBA apologized to state school board members and launched an independent review, which concluded that the letter comparing parents to domestic terrorists contradicted the “core commitments to parent engagement, local control, and nonpartisanship.” The NSBA added that it doesn’t share the views in the letter or advocate federal law enforcement intervening in local school board meetings.
The Biden administration said the NAFSCE “will be a channel for parents and families to constructively participate in their children’s education by helping them understand the rights they have, create a feedback loop with schools to shape how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds are deployed to meet students’ needs, and identify summer learning and enrichment opportunities for children in their communities.”
What good this new “engagement” will entail remains to be seen. The question is, will everyone sit around talking about the problems, or will concerned parents on the local level get the changes they seek?
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