Vermont not among school board associations distancing themselves from national group

A crowd objecting to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ mask mandate for schools shouts in opposition to wearing a face covering at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. Melinda Deslatte / AP

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square

More than half of state school board associations have distanced themselves from the national association after it sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal intervention to investigate parents who protest at local meetings.

The Vermont School Board Association was not among the signers. The VSBA has not yet responded to requests to comment by Center Square and Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Of the 26 that have repudiated the letter, 11 have discontinued their membership with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) after Kentucky did so Wednesday.

In the Sept 29 letter, the NSBA likened parents protesting the teaching of critical race theory, mask mandates and other local school decisions to domestic terrorists and sought federal help.

The NSBA is a national association that state school board associations are members of and pay dues to.

In response to NSBA’s letter, the U.S. Justice Department and Merrick Garland instructed the FBI to monitor and investigate parents protesting at local school board meetings.

Parents Defending Education emailed 47 state school board associations for comment on the NSBA’s Sept. 29 letter. Hawaii and Washington, D.C. associations are not NSBA members and Virginia and Louisiana had already made public statements by the time PDE sent the letter.

PDE asked the associations to confirm or deny if they were in agreement with the NSBA’s position, to state how they define “intimidation,” “harassment,” and “threat,” and if they planned on reporting individuals in their states to the U.S. Department of Justice. It also published their responses online.

As of Wednesday, 26 states have distanced themselves from the NSBA’s letter: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Among them, 11 states have taken action by withdrawing their membership, participation, or dues from NSBA: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Several states did not respond to PDE’s letter at all: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. California replied by stating that it declined to respond to the questions.

“We believe the letter from NSBA leadership demonstrated how out of touch the national association is with the concerns of local school boards and the principle of local control,” Ohio’s association said. “Because of that, OSBA no longer sees the value of continued NSBA membership.”

Pennsylvania’s association said NSBA’s letter saying comparing upset parents to domestic terrorists “was the final straw” after the organization had already been questioning the value of keeping its NSBA membership. It added that NSBA had “fomented more disputes and cast partisanship on our work on behalf of school directors, when we seek to find common ground and support all school directors in their work, no matter their politics.”

The New Hampshire School Boards Association said it plans on withdrawing its membership but has not yet done so officially.

The Montana School Board Association will formally leave the NSBA in July 2022, as it already renewed its membership in July of this year.

Alabama withheld its dues to NSBA and plans to vote on whether to leave in December. Florida did not submit dues to NSBA and expressed its opposition to the NSBA’s position. Kentucky’s association leadership is currently evaluating the benefits of continued membership in NSBA. Mississippi says it doesn’t support NSBA’s action and will be meeting to address the situation.

Many of the associations that responded to Parents Defending Education said they had not been asked or informed by NSBA before it sent the letter. In fact, the letter was sent without their knowledge or input from the state associations it is supposed to represent, they added.

Delaware’s association said NSBA’s letter “was a clear overreach” and “violates the fundamental principle of local authority, upon which the Delaware public education system is founded and structured.”

Idaho’s association said, “Had we been asked, we would have readily pointed out the mischaracterization of parents and patrons in our communities as domestic terrorists who merited federal investigation. We want parents and patrons engaged in our public schools – we have sought that for years.

Illinois’ association said, “This is not the first disagreement that IASB has had with NSBA. Prior to this incident the IASB Board of Directors was evaluating its relationship with NSBA. IASB previously expressed concerns to NSBA about problems related to governance, transparency, and financial oversight. IASB suspended payment of dues to NSBA for 2021-2022 and sought to address these concerns through changes to the governance structure of the national association.

“IASB disagrees with NSBA’s decision to request federal intervention, and the decision by NSBA leadership to tie the request to claims of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

New Jersey’s association said it doesn’t endorse the letter, and NSBA’s position doesn’t “reflect the beliefs and policies of NJSBA.” It said it has expressed its disapproval of the letter and “strongly supports the ability of parents and citizens to voice their opinions at board meetings, which is a fundamental principle of our democracy.”

Editor’s note: we attempted to contact Vermont School Board Association by email and phone today. Any response will be published immediately. The issue discussed above does not appear on the group’s Twitter page.

12 replies »

  1. Some Vermont school boards are the most ‘woke’ in the country. Vermont boards are infested with conflicts of interest and include retired teachers, teachers from adjacent districts, and, in my Bellows Falls Union High School district, for example, the husband of the school’s guidance counselor ‘serves’ on its board. They act with impunity toward anyone not towing the progressive, ‘woke’, culture. They demonstrate the epitome of ‘woke’ indoctrination while more than half our graduating students don’t meet grade level standards. Some of these boards are a disgrace.

      • And I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the Vermont’s school boards are elected officials. We have only ourselves to blame for this travesty.

  2. I’ve emailed the Executive director (12 days ago) and, many on the TVSBA list for Vermont. NO replies yet.

  3. They also completely DENY that schools in Vermont are pushing any of the CRT agenda which is completely false. In Springfield , we’ve seen almost every component of it . Some of them going back 3 years. When confronted with what we discovered in AUgust , in regards to their ACTUAL CRT agenda , they denied all of it and told us all how “transparent” they’ve been.

    BTW: School Super , Zach McLaughlin , is gone next year. The board is currently, actively seeking his replacement.

  4. Guy, please keep us up to speed on this if Vermont decides to join the 26 states. Meanwhile I will continue to go to board meetings and ask tough questions.

  5. The strategies and work being accomplished around equity and social justice by the Vermont School Board Association is also mainly based on the influence imposed by the Ethnic snd Social Equity Standards Advisory Work Group.

    This group is fundamental in everything related to changes we see in Vermont schools and Government and focuses mainly on a government initiative called ACT 1.

    Please tune in for their next meeting here:

  6. George Soros and his merry band of nihilists. Follow the money and you will find all of these organizations, the campaign money – all of it leads to George and other elitist billionaires who want to destroy the USA for the NWO – the Weather Underground has gotten the old band back together as well – one of them is part of the organization funding BLM….they are all connected.

  7. We need to encourage new school board members in every district. And Jay is right, we have done this to ourselves. Time to “undo”!

    • That we have done this to ourselves is true to a point. But in defense of rational, reasonable Vermonters (a dying breed), we were not necessarily aware our school boards were populated with looney activists until recently. It has now become painfully obvious just how “critical” it is to have school boards with level-headed, normal people who aren’t injecting Marxism into our education.

      • Robert, Wendy, et al.

        Because my wife and I are both former Vermont school board directors, I can say with some certainty that while school boards haven’t been as ‘woke’ as they now are, they have been dysfunctional for decades – for several reasons.

        First, board members aren’t, for the most part, expert in school management – certainly not when they’re first elected. Most corporate boards include directors with related business expertise. School boards, however, are politically oriented, not managerial. And no two people will ever agree, completely, on how a student, let alone all students, should be educated.

        Second, the Agency of Education (AOE) and its State Board of Education (SBOE) control much of what schools must do. Additionally, the National Education Association, the Vermont Principal’s Association, and the Vermont Superintendent’s Association, special interest organizations all, determine how AOE and SBOE dictates are followed. And the Vermont School Boards Association then advises all of the Vermont’s school boards on ‘proper’ protocols.

        Third, conflict of interest on school boards is epidemic. Vermont law says even the ‘appearance of conflict’ is unacceptable. Still, boards often consist of retired teachers, teachers from adjacent districts, teacher family members, and others working in the social services sector of the economy that do business with the schools. As I’ve mentioned before (in hopes someone will review this instance) in my local Bellows Falls Union High School, for example, the husband of the school’s guidance counselor is on the high school board. It’s a blatantly illegal circumstance. But no one is paying attention. Which brings me to the fourth reason school boards are dysfunctional.

        The public school system is a monopoly. Taxpayers are required to fund it. Parents are required to send their children into it – or face truancy indictments. Yes, wealthy parents can afford to send their children to private schools, as many teachers do. But the average parent can’t afford to pay education taxes and a separate independent school tuition.

        The result of the dystopian nature of the public education system has been brewing for decades. Today, Vermont has one of the most expensive public education systems in the world. Yes, in the world. And half of its students don’t meet grade level when they graduate.

        Lastly, to elect board members who understand these deficiencies, let alone being capable of dealing with them, is a long shot at best. Because the system, itself, is dystopian, the system incentivizes conflict and dysfunction. The only fix, then, as long as our society decides to subsidize public education, is for the subsidy to follow the student, at the discretion of parents, to the education program the parents believe best meets the needs of their children. In other words, take politics out of the education system… if you can.

  8. The VTSBA issued a letter today. You can find it on their website or, on the latest edition of THIS publication. They emailed me directly because I went directly to them over 2 weeks back.
    NOt sure why it took that long but, the results were acceptable.

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