Now, however, there’s a cloud on the horizon that threatens more than just one beloved suburban school district. Across Michigan, parent advocacy groups are threatening districts with action against curriculum, library books and even individual teachers. They target “purple” areas like Livonia, Rochester, Novi, Bloomfield Hills and others similar to ours. While some of these efforts may be organic, the Republican Party did not make a secret of using education as a wedge/culture wars issue in this cycle.
Groups like Moms for Liberty, FEC United, and here in Grosse Pointes, Know Your Classroom, have been energized by their opposition to mask diversity and inclusion mandates and efforts they deride as “whackism.”
1) Moms for Freedom is rooted in Florida, supports various “reforms” pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, and now has 10 chapters in Michigan. The Wayne County chapter successfully encouraged followers to run for school board. As a 501c4 “dark money” operation, there is no transparency regarding funders.
2) FEC United, based in Colorado, wants students to be free from “ideological training.” The Michigan chapter webpage provides links to lists of what he calls “unusable” books in Michigan and Grosse Pointe Libraries.
3) Know your class Grosse Pointes (and the nearby Harper Woods areas that are also part of GPPSS) are also struggling with this home operation. When it was launched last year, KYC was don’t be shy or vague about your demand
- It is planned to adopt the Bill on the rights of parents.
- Live streaming into classrooms so parents can support learning and “make sure the relevant curriculum is being taught”
- Question why resources are being diverted from children’s academic needs through the newly created Race, Equality and Inclusion Board
- Unless “significant changes” are made, members are “prepared to form a public charter school that will implement this policy”
What is happening in Grosse Pointe is an example of what I fear is also happening in other school districts in Michigan. Here’s a contentious 10-person school board race to fill three seats, KYC sent out a survey to all candidates with at least three “push poll” questions (Does the GPPSS Strategic Plan emphasize social equity over academic achievement?). He will publish the answers in advertising space in the Grosse Pointe News.
Conveniently, KYC is also a dark money 501c4. Indeed, the dark money in school board races is becoming force in h.p and in other places. Two years ago, a list that included QA’s uninterested candidate was able to win half of the four positions up for grabs through a relentless push of mail and advertising.
Even more alarming is that a recent post on the KYC Facebook page and website refers to the Fox News article with ways to disrupt “wakeism” including filing Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and litigation. It looks like a strategy to tie the school administration in knots.
Why now? Demonstrating parental rights and helping all children “succeed” is a thin veneer of what these groups really want: to wrest control of the curriculum from seasoned education professionals and, in particular, roll back the history curriculum to the days of Leave It To Beaver .
Key to this strategy is replacing school board members and administrators dedicated to an approach to education that values the range of backgrounds and learning styles of our students. These actions will cause additional and irreparable damage to Michigan schools and our economy – something we cannot afford.
Before you vote in your school board election this fall, please ask what relationships, if any, do the candidates you support have with these groups?