Education Sec. Blasts Parents Who Act ‘Like They Know What’s Right for Kids’
President Biden’s education secretary is telling the media that the state knows what’s best for children — and parents don’t. In an Associated Press interview on Friday, Miguel Cardona spoke to reporters about the present state of education in America, noting the controversy surrounding the subject and saying, “I’ve never seen it where it is now. There was civility, we could disagree, we could have healthy conversations around what’s best for kids.” He compared the days when educators and parents cooperated to do what’s “best for kids,” contrasting that against the situation today, when parents protest at school board meetings.
He claimed, “I respect differences of opinion.” But Cardona followed that statement by saying, “I don’t have too much respect for people that are misbehaving in public and then acting as if they know what’s right for kids.” He added, “There’s a team that’s fighting for kids and there’s a team that’s fighting against kids.”
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council told The Washington Stand, “The arrogance of these comments captures almost perfectly the arrogance that parents face when they try to have any kind of impact on the public education system. Before Cardona even answers the question, he is sure to remind everyone that he’s been in education for 25 years and also has a lot of schooling but he’s too humble to remind us of exactly how much. The implication is that he’s the adult in the room and we should trust him.”
Although he later refers to politicians and offers some comments on how schools are funded, Cardona has faced backlash for his initial comments, which many perceive as an attack on parents who have spoken or protested at school board meetings across the country.
Parents clashing with educators isn’t a novelty in America, but parents in 2021 began protesting the LGBT and critical race theory content that school boards have been pushing in classrooms, garnering national attention in Loudoun County, Va., but rapidly spreading across the nation. Many of the same policies and content items parents protested against in Loudoun County are still in play on a national scale, including pornographic content and LGBT propaganda in school libraries, transgender bathroom and locker room policies, and parental notification policies requiring teachers to inform parents when their child attempts to socially transition to the opposite gender.
Cardona’s comments aren’t new territory for Democrats, though. In Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election, education and parental rights proved to be of primary concern for Old Dominion voters, particularly after former governor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe quipped during a debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” His comment was in response to a question on whether or not parents should have a say in removing books from school libraries, and followed months of parents complaining at school board meetings about sexually explicit material on bookshelves that children have access to. McAuliffe ultimately lost the election, despite a strong showing in polls up until the very day before the election, and Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governorship after campaigning heavily in support of parental rights and weeding out woke education.
Also in 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland notoriously directed federal, state, and local law enforcement to target parents who protested at school board meetings, classifying them as a threat. The memo Garland issued was in response to the National School Board Association classifying parents as “domestic terrorists.” Testifying before Congress as recently as last week, Garland clarified under oath that he did not intend to issue any retractions or apologies regarding his statement and even defended his actions.
Despite the comments made by Cardona and Garland, school boards and school board members endorsing and advocating parental rights have been receiving numerous threats — both from left-wing activists and even from the government. In California, for example, the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) has sued the Chino Valley Unified School District for implementing a parental notification policy and is reportedly investigating another school district for doing the same. Chino Valley’s school board president Sonja Shaw has also received death threats for backing pro-parental rights policies. In New Jersey, a state judge banned several school districts from implementing the same parental notification policies Chino Valley and countless other school districts have mandated, despite the fact that a majority of Garden Staters (including a surprising majority of Democrats) support such policies.
“As an educator, Secretary Cardona should be more clear,” Kilgannon commented. “What ‘people’ is he talking about who misbehave in public? Does he mean the teachers from Charlotte who terrorized the Union County, North Carolina, superintendent’s home because Union was going to reopen schools? Is he talking about the teachers who protested with hearses and headstones that they would die if they had to teach? Or maybe he’s talking about the Kentucky or Montana leftists who shut down those state houses — I’m sure plenty of those folks included teachers or administrators or most certainly current or former students. If he is talking about parents he should just say so.”
Kilgannon continued, “I hope everybody on the ‘team that’s helping kids’ keeps talking this way, because it will be very evident to voters that the last thing on that team’s minds is helping. Because first and foremost, these people are bitterly clinging to failed ideologies and dangerous perversions that harm children, families, and society. And they will be sure to remind you of their expertise while calling you a racist.”
Cardona has made similar comments in the past. In May, he tweeted, “Teachers know what is best for their kids because they are with them every day. We must trust teachers.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.