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Right-Wing Intimidation Efforts Sweep School Districts Nationwide

Source: NC Newsline

Since 2021, right-wing groups and extremist politicians have spearheaded efforts to intimidate educators on the national and statewide levels. According to a study by PEN America, more than 400 pieces of “educational intimidation” pieces of legislation have been introduced since 2021. 

PEN defines a legislation as an “educational intimidation bill” if it contains at least one provision with “specific and recurring legal mechanisms with the foreseeable effect of chilling expression in educational settings.”

All but 15 out of the 392 education intimidation bills introduced, were sponsored by Republicans, according to PEN. Most of the bills are aimed at K-12 public schools, and have the goal to not only censor how educators teach, but also make schools a less welcoming place for students to freely express themselves.

“The opportunity for parents to inspect and object to school curricula is already commonly granted in public school systems, as it should be,” stated Jonathan Friedman, PEN’s director of free expression and education programs. “But this spate of provisions dramatically expands these powers in ways that are designed to spur schools and educators to self-censor.” 

The report highlights North Carolina Republicans efforts to attack public education, with Senate Bill 49 at the centerfold. Senate Bill 49, also known as North Carolina’s version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, bans lessons about gender identity, and sexual orientation, and educators would face the threat of disciplinary action if they refuse to out students to their parents.

The discriminatory bill became law last month after Republicans overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the bill

PEN also highlights Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s “Fairness and Accountability in the Classroom for Teachers and Students (F.A.C.T.S.) task force, which mirrored a McCarthy-like hunt to snuff out indoctrination that is occurring in North Carolina’s classrooms.

The 500 submissions to the F.A.C.T.S. Task Force from the public provided little evidence to Robinson’s baseless claims, with one Mecklenburg teacher finding the portal to be an incubator for roasts of the Lieutenant Governor

Since 2021, 39 of the educational intimidation bills, including North Carolina’s SB 49, have become law. In all, 19 states, home to 140 million Americans, have one or more educational intimidation provisions in force, according to PEN. 

“Taken as a whole, the ultimate impact of most educational intimidation bills is official censorship, self-censorship, the chilling of student expression, and the diminution of most parents’ ability to influence what their children learn at school,”  the authors of the report wrote

“We should recognize these bills for what they are: a censorious power grab by an extreme and unrepresentative minority that undermines parents, children, teachers, and the democratic foundation of the American system of public education as a whole”.

Read more at NC Newsline.

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