NSBA chief who authored letter likening parents to domestic terrorists elevated to federal post

The president of the National School Boards Association, Viola Garcia, has been tapped by the Biden administration for a position on the federal ​board setting policy for students’ performance despite Garcia authoring a letter to President Biden that compared parents speaking out about their children’s education to “domestic terrorism.”

A development that speaks volumes about how the administration really feels about that issue.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona selected Garcia to ​sit on the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees and sets policy for the National Assessment of Education Progress,” the New York Post reported. Also known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” the board tracks student performance on a number of subjects and reports on their achievements.​

“The 26-member Governing Board is responsible for deciding which subjects NAEP assesses, determining the assessments’ content, setting achievement levels that describe student performance, and pursuing new ways to make NAEP results useful and meaningful to the public,” said a Department of Education press release.

The release was dated Oct. 13, which is after a Sept. 29 letter from Garcia and NSBA interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven, which addressed concerned parents opposed to the teaching of critical race theory and mask mandates by saying, “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum in response to the letter instructing the FBI to take the lead on a task force to address threats against school officials, Fox News reported.

​“While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,” Garland wrote in ​the memo​. ​

The NSBA would issued an apology Friday for some of the wording in the letter, according to the network, saying that “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”

“On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter,” the board wrote.

Yet, Cardona was pleased to include Garcia as part of the “distinguished group of leaders” appointed to the NAGB.

“It is my pleasure to appoint this distinguished group of leaders to the National Assessment Governing Board,” Cardona said in the release. “As we address students’ educational needs during this challenging time, I’m confident these leaders will bring the perspectives necessary to ensure the National Assessment of Educational Progress remains the gold standard in measuring student academic outcomes. The pandemic has disrupted our students’ educational opportunities and their learning, with impacts on students’ academic and social and emotional development, as well as their mental health. As we work to address students’ academic needs, we need the Nation’s Report Card now more than ever to help us understand students’ academic progress and where additional supports can be targeted, ensuring all students reach their full potential.”

“We welcome these esteemed new and reappointed members who will bring important insights as our nation continues to navigate the impacts of the pandemic and the toll it has taken on our nation’s schools and students,” said Lesley Muldoon, the executive director of the Governing Board. “We will work together to ensure that NAEP continues to answer critical questions of how our nation’s students are doing, informing efforts to improve outcomes for all children.”

Tom Tillison


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