Senate Republicans call for probe into NEA, possible role in DOJ’s school-board memo

Senate Republicans called Tuesday on inspectors general to investigate possible collusion between the Biden administration and the National Education Association on squelching pushback over critical race theory in schools.

The senators cited an Oct. 8 letter from NEA president Becky Pringle urging tech platforms to block “disinformation” on critical race theory, in which she cited Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Oct. 4 school-board directive responding to the National School Boards Association’s letter raising the specter of domestic terrorism.

“There is reason to suspect the NEA worked with Biden Administration officials to write this letter after email evidence revealed that the Secretary of the U.S. Department Education colluded with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to produce a letter sent to President Biden a few days earlier, on September 29, 2021,” the 11 senators said in their letter.

The lawmakers, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, sent the letter to the Education Department Inspector General Sandra Bruce and Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

The senators cited an internal email unearthed earlier this month by Parents Defending Education from an NSBA board member saying that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona solicited the association’s letter, which his office has denied.

“While we remain concerned that parents who are peacefully protesting continue to be threatened by the failure of the Attorney General to rescind his memo, we are equally disturbed that the NSBA and NEA used taxpayer dollars – collected as dues from member schools – to carry out politically motivated attacks against concerned parents at the direction of the Biden Administration,” said the Senate Republicans’ letter.

The other signatories were Republican Sens. Roger Marshall of Kansas; Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi; John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming; Joni Ernst of Iowa; Mike Braun of Indiana; James Inhofe and James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Steve Daines of Montana.

House and Senate Republicans have doggedly pursued the origins of the NSBA letter over concerns that it was crafted in concert with the administration and then used to justify a federal crackdown on parents protesting critical race theory and mask policies.

In a Sept. 29 email, interim executive director Chip Slaven said he had been “in talks over the last several weeks with White House staff,” and that “they requested additional information on some of the specific threats.”

Ms. Pringle asked the heads of Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to “put an end to the stream of propaganda fueling violence against educators in our communities,” pointing to the DOJ’s “entire new task force.”

The Washington Times has reached out to the NEA for comment.

Mr. Garland has insisted that the federal response is aimed at violent threats, not parents exercising their free-speech rights. He has also refused to withdraw the memo under pressure from Republicans.

“These actions must be investigated as threatening and intimidating concerned parents should never be tolerated,” said Tuesday’s letter. “Parents deserve to know the complete truth on this matter. Just because someone disagrees with you does not give you the right to silence them.”

In a Jan. 13 letter, 41 House Republicans demanded that the president fire Mr. Cardona, saying he demonstrated “a complete lack of judgement, a divisive approach to his position, and a betrayal of the public trust.”

The Jan. 11 DOE statement said: “While the secretary did not solicit a letter from NSBA, to understand the views and concerns of stakeholders, the department routinely engages with students, teachers, parents, district leaders and education associations.”

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