Miguel Cardona, the US Secretary of Education, called out people attacking public schools over curriculums saying the same people who think they “know what’s right for kids” are “misbehaving in public”.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Mr Cardona seemingly referenced the rise in school board fights over the last few years.
“I’ve been in education about 25 years… I’ve never seen it where it is now,” he said.
“There was civility, we could disagree, we could have healthy conversations around what’s best for kids. I respect differences of opinion 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.”
Since the pandemic, school board meetings have been the venue for many viral videos showing angry parents and others fighting with school leaders about implementing various topics or requirements.
Tensions have risen from an array of topics: mask mandates; teaching on the US’s history of slavery; discussions surrounding gender; using LGBT+ characters in stories, and book bans.
A conservative culture war against “wokeism” has emerged arguing that progressive notions are an attempt to “indoctrinate” children.
Teachers and administrators have borne the brunt of angry protestors at school board meetings.
In June, a brawl occurred outside of a school board meeting in Los Angeles between pro and anti-LGBT+ protestors because school board members were voting to recognise June as Pride Month.
An investigation by ProPublica identified nearly 90 incidents in 30 states going back to the spring of 2021 where school board meetings turned sour. In some instances, people were arrested.
🚨Secretary Cardona openly dismissed thousands of American parents who have been speaking out at school board meetings:
“I don’t have too much respect for people that are misbehaving in public and acting like they know what’s right for kids.” pic.twitter.com/QafoiKwAdB
— Nicki Neily (@nickineily) September 22, 2023
The Secretary of Education further described attacks on education by calling out lawmakers who were furious with President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.
“People that have a problem when we are trying to provide some sort of support to folks who are buried in debt and complain about a $10,000 support for thousands of their constituents but are ok taking over a million dollars in loan forgiveness themselves as an elected official – that hypocrisy I want to call it out,” Mr Cardona said.
When Mr Biden unveiled his student loan forgiveness plan last year, many Republicans criticised it as “unfair” and quickly dismissed it as an overreach of government power.
Mr Cardona said the increasing attacks on public education shows that: “There’s a team that’s fighting for kids and a team that’s fighting against kids.”