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Normal parents fought Merrick Garland and saved America in just 18 days. In California, the battle continues

Will Swaim


Will Swaim
October 26, 2021

Normal parents fought Merrick Garland and saved America in just 18 days. In California, the battle continues

On October 4, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to investigate parents of school-age kids who object to school closures, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, the teaching of critical race theory, and a new law that deprives parents of information about medical treatments recommended for school-age kids. Garland spied with his beady eyes a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”

Garland based his claims on a letter from the National School Boards Association, a group whose members – trustees on local school boards – are generally tied to powerful teachers unions. But on October 22, the NSBA withdrew its letter and apologized to parents. NSBA staffers had gone rogue, the group’s board of directors explained. Cue the sad-sounding flugelhorn.

All that’s left now is for Garland to publicly rescind his order to the FBI – and maybe politely apologize and resign.

There’s a rare story of popular dissent in those 18 days, of parents of school-age kids rising up quickly and nonviolently to stop a federal abuse of police power. They immediately saw Garland’s – and the NSBA’s – claim for what it was: an attempt by government officials and their allies in the teachers unions to crush popular dissent.

There were lawsuits. And there was standout reporting among serious conservative news outlets. But mostly there were parents who continued to throng school board meetings to kill Garland’s use of the FBI as a weapon of political intimidation.

Here in California, the farce continues. There’s work to be done. The California School Boards Association, the NSBA’s state affiliate, sent a similar letter to Governor Gavin Newsom. In it, they claim to have witnessed “active attempts to undermine the democratic process through intimidation, threats, and violence.”

Like the NSBA’s now orphaned letter to Garland, the California group offered Newsom a catalogue of horrors that, on closer investigation, turn out to be more like the Halloween section at Target than an actual burning hellscape. They cite cases of maskless parents refusing to social distance during packed school board meetings, of parents threatening to gather signatures for the recall of elected public school officials.

These are hardly the leading indicators of political subversion requiring the governor’s emergency police powers. They are, in fact, evidence that California’s teachers union leaders and the school board officials whose campaigns they finance failed in their effort to shut down parent dissent at public meetings by imposing “public health” mandates — social distancing, limited public capacity, and locked doors.

That’s why the CSBA took the next step, asking the governor “to collaborate with California Attorney General Rob Bonta to convince, command, or otherwise urge local law enforcement to uphold public health and safety orders, help maintain order at local school board meetings when requested, and enforce the law as they are sworn to do.”

What can you do now?

  • Attend your local school board meeting, and demand that your elected representatives call on Attorney General Merrick Garland to rescind his FBI directive. No more policing of parents.
  • At the same time, demand that your local school boards stop payments to California School Boards Association and its national parent, the National School Boards Association. Both organizations operate on millions of dollars in member dues – dues that are paid by local school boards out of the taxpayer dollars they oversee. That money could be used for local education. Instead, it funds organizations that work openly to terrorize parents into silence.

When we fight for control of our schools – against their dumbed-down classes, against their reckless disregard for real education in favor of flavor-of-the-month political agendas – we’re not just fighting for our own children. We’re fighting for every Californian.

Today’s fight is a fight for our future.


Will Swaim is president of the California Policy Center, and co-host of National Review’s Radio Free California podcast. 

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