Co-Opting the Parents Revolt – WSJ

Education Minister Miguel Cardona


Susan Walsh/Associated Press

A political consequence of the pandemic was a spontaneous uprising among parents in the US against school closures and brighter curricula. Now the Biden administration has decided to mobilize a political counterforce that may violate federal law.

In June, the Department of Education announced the formation of a National Council for Parents and Families. The Council will not make any policy recommendations. However, according to a press release, it will “work with the ministry to find constructive ways to help families get involved locally.”

This looks like an attempt to organize parents to lobby state and local governments for democratic priorities. Council members include Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and the left-leaning Mocha Moms, the League of United Latin American Citizens, UnidosUS and the United Parent Leaders Action Network.

The council is politically lopsided, and this month the nonprofit Parents Defending Education and others sued the Biden administration. The plaintiffs allege multiple violations of the Federal Advisory Councils Act, which governs agency councils and councils.

The law states that advisory bodies “must be fairly balanced in terms of the positions taken and the duties to be performed by the advisory committee”. But education minister Miguel Cardona has “chosen members who are agreeable and unbalanced,” the lawsuit says. Parents Defending Education and others who have joined the lawsuit say they joined the parent council and offered their different perspective, but they “didn’t have an opportunity to formally apply.”

The lawsuit further alleges that the parents’ council met without public notice, “without making those meetings open to the public” and without releasing recordings or minutes of its meetings. It is claimed the Department of Education also failed to file a charter for the parent council with congressional committees or appoint an official to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. As a result, the lawsuit alleges that the parent council is protected “from any reasonable oversight.”

The lawsuit challenges the legal basis for the council in the absence of an enabling law, presidential order, or entry in the federal register. The lawsuit asks the court to declare the council improperly established, evict it, or deter it from further action until the violations are remedied.

The Ministry of Education declined to comment on the lawsuit. “The Department welcomes a diverse group of voices” on the council, spokesman Luke Jackson said. He said the groups included in the launch “represent parents from a variety of backgrounds” and that “any group interested in joining the council should contact the department”.

The parents’ revolt is an example of grassroots democracy in action and does not require any guidance from the federal education bureaucracy or its political agents.

Journal Editor’s Report: The pressure for a big rate hike is mounting. Images: AP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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