Five more states are distancing themselves from the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Last week, the state board associations of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Louisiana agreed to end their affiliations with the NSBA after the publication of a controversial letter regarding parents and school boards.
In September, the NSBA sent a letter to President Biden requesting federal intervention in school board incidents, suggesting that the behavior of some parents “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” But parent organizations and state school board associations have been quick to push back, arguing that federal intervention is a step too far for issues of local control like education.
The language of the letter has also faced intense scrutiny. Critics have questioned whether many of the incidents in question—including protests, prank phone calls, and viral social media posts—should truly be deemed “acts of violence” or “threats against public officials.”
In the Ohio State Board Association’s statement, the organization indicated that its withdrawal was “a direct result of the letter sent by you to President Joe Biden late last month.” It also stated:
The letter purported to be sent on behalf of state associations and school board members across the nation. This assertion could not be further from the truth. OSBA was not notified of the letter, nor were we asked for our thoughts on the matter
With this move, 23 total state board associations have now taken steps to distance themselves from the NSBA. But could more be on their way?
Next up may be Minnesota, where some lawmakers are urging the state’s school board association to cut ties. Calling the NSBA’s comments “deceitful and defamatory,” Republicans are arguing that the North Star State should be the 24th state to cut ties—and it may not be the only one left to do so. Several state board associations still have yet to weigh in on the situation.
Clearly, education is a community affair, and school districts can never hope to engage families if they’ve failed to establish trust first. Here’s to hoping that whatever happens next, it leads to improved trust between families and school boards.
Garris Stroud is an award-winning ELA educator, author, and advocate from rural Western Kentucky. He is a former Hope Street Group Kentucky State Teacher Fellow and member of the Kentucky Education Commissioner’s Teacher Advisory Council (TAC).