EXCLUSIVE: Educators at 120 districts across the country are participating in a new program some critics believe is aimed at manipulating students' values and beliefs to replace parents as the primary moral authority in their child's lives. 

The School Superintendent's Association's (ASSA) Learning 2025 program calls for a "holistic redesign" of the United States' public education system, with an eye toward equity, by 2025, but districts across the country have already started rolling out the program. 

The program was spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and is based on a "student-centered, equity-focused" education commission report, published by the AASA in 2021. 

One aspect of the report tasks educators, employers, parents and the public with "establishing a Portrait of what a graduate and citizen of the community should look like." The report says this portrait of a learner, including the "hopes aspirations and dreams" of young people, should be defined by the broader community, not only the students or parents. 

"When the broader community—learners, teachers, families, local businesses, and community leaders— comes together to define the hopes, aspirations, and dreams for their young people, the resulting Portrait of a Learner becomes the shared vision and the school system’s north star," the report says.

AASA Learning 2025 Commission

AASA Learning 2025 Commission

But some, such as No Left Turn in Education (NLTE) National Director of Teacher Coalition Holly Terei, argue the program is not to the benefit of everyone. 

"Through a holistic approach, they are the ones that will be developing the values, morals and beliefs in a child and ultimately weaponizing the empathy of a child and cultivating a victim mentality within them," Terei, who serves on the national and Georgia state NLTE boards and attended the Learning 2025 conference last summer, told Fox News Digital. 

"There is an overall intentionality of pushing the parents out of the picture, of students being led to believe … that they don't have to adhere to the standards that their parents may have for them," Terei said.

Terei decided to learn more about the Learning 2025 curriculum after she discovered that her children's school district, Gwinnett County Public Schools, was a demo district for the framework. 


"Through what I've learned at the conference, there's an intentionality of bypassing parental rights by not being transparent about the implementation of the program, the data collection that goes into it, the fact that it's not a proven educational program and that our children, who have been signed up as demo districts with Learning 2025, are literally a part of a social educational experiment," she said. 

"Your child's mind is being used as a playground, if you will," Terei added. "They made it clear that they're going to make a lot of mistakes implementing these programs and that it probably will get worse before it gets better."

US Department of Education building

Washington, DC, USA - January, 12, 2021: US Department of Education Building. (iStock)

Dan Domenech, executive director of the AASA, told Fox News Digital that about two years ago, he gathered a group of individuals, including superintendents, private sector CEOs and non-profit leaders, to challenge them "to the fact that our feeling is that our public education system needs to be redesigned." 

He said the program is designed simply to improve the education process in the United States. 

"All we're doing from our organization, AASA and the Learning 2025, is simply creating an opportunity for districts that are interested in bringing about changes in the education process, to work with other superintendents around the country that are doing these things … that is pretty much the beginning and the end of what Learning 2025 is," Domenech said. 

Domenech also stressed the importance of parental involvement "to make determinations that are in the best interest of their children."

But, the commission's initial report, which is over 30 pages long, only mentions "parent" 10 times and "family" five times. "Community," on the other hand, is mentioned 48 times. 

Terei said she felt at the conference promoting Learning 2025, there was a common notion that educators, not parents, know what is best for their children. She said strategies were promoted to teach superintendents how to "shush us and push us [parents] out of the picture, so they can do what they feel is best for our children."

"The most frustrating thing was the only time parents were brought up in any conversations that I sat in on or had the opportunity to listen to was in a very negative, derogatory way," Terei said. "Basically, we are in the way, we think we know what's best for our kids, but they're with our kids all day, not us."

The Learning 2025 report states that "Those … in official leadership roles must rise to the occasion and spearhead, enable, inform, and shape the fulfillment of this vision" which "will require that leaders graduate from searching for consensus to molding consensus."

Terei said that instead of searching for consensus, they bypassed parents to sign their children up to participate in Learning 2025, which they are not only forcing on students, but also forcing on educators, support staff, boards and administrators.

New York City public schools that lost students after families moved or pulled out because of the Covid-19 pandemic now must prepare to return to the city some funding due to enrollment drops. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

New York City public schools that lost students after families moved or pulled out because of the Covid-19 pandemic now must prepare to return to the city some funding due to enrollment drops. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images) ((Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images))

"They want leadership that is completely sold out to the Learning 2025 model and all that it endorses, and any pushback is not considered forward-thinking, you are archaic, and you are problematic," she added. "This was reiterated throughout the conference day in and day out."

Leaders should be facilitators in getting consensus from the community to make decisions in the "best interest of their students," Domenech said. He also stressed the importance of parental consensus because "none of these changes are going to happen unless there is consensus."

Domenech also emphasized how school districts can work "hand-in-hand with legislators" to achieve proper funding, because in the U.S., public education is funded through property taxes, which allows the community to decide how much money they want to allocate for education.


"This is where the superintendent, as the leader of the community, plays that facilitator role of getting the legislators involved in terms of funding which continues to be one of the biggest issues," he said. 

Terei criticized this approach, saying it was an effort to use legislation to minimize parent's role in education.

"There is this level of intentionality to get in with our lawmakers so to prevent legislation that would keep them from being able to implement Learning 2025 and ultimately the whole learner model," Terei said. "I think that this is an intentional effort to create legislation that supports the whole learner model and also an effort to block any legislation that includes, but not limited to, parental rights, critical race theory, gender theory, transparency legislation, and so on."

In another section of the report, the Learning 2025 Commission explains that its vision is for schools to "function as hubs of supports and resources to the greater community" which will mean "reimagining roles, responsibilities, relationships, and partnerships focused on building assets in children, families, schools, and community." 

The report also encourages communities to work with local government through what is described as a "multi-tiered system of support," where school districts will "create community cabinets to coordinate internal and external support and services." To achieve this, "schools must transform into indispensable resources to the community at large … functioning as a hub of inclusion and strength."

FILE PHOTO: Teachers rally outside the state Capitol for the second day of a teacher walkout to demand higher pay and more funding for education in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo - RC1CCABB7400

The Oklahoma teachers union is demanding a $10,000 raise for teachers over the next three years as well as a $5,000 pay increase for other school officials. (Reuters/Nick Oxford)

Terei called this approach a "total override of the role of a parent and parental rights." 

"Instead of your child being looked at as an extension of you or belonging to you, they are looked at as an extension of the government and of the government schools," she said.

"This is a total overreach through these public and private partnerships, and it is incredibly concerning," Terei said. "We're opening a Pandora's box, I believe, through these initiatives."


Participation in the Learning 2025 "Network" doesn't come without a price. The complete suite of services will cost AASA members an annual participation fee of $14,000, while non-members can enjoy their services for a $15,4000 annual fee, according to a document obtained by NLTE

Domenech explained that it is an individual school district's responsibility to determine the "services that they feel is in the best interests of the district," but recognized that public school funding ultimately comes from taxpayers. 

"We are not like the rest of the world where education is national," he said. "In the United States, the federal government was given no responsibility for education."

"We have a big problem in this country in terms of the country as a whole, doing things together," he added. "It doesn't happen because every community has the opportunity to make that decision for themselves. Sometimes, most of the time, that's good because the community can decide what they feel is best for them and for their kids. But other times, we just went through COVID, you saw what happened." 

He pointed out that some school districts were in person, while others were virtual, some districts required masks, others weren't, some schools required vaccines, others didn't. 

"It's a mishmash in this country, it's all over the place because the way that we function, it's not a federal system of education, it's a local system of education," Domenech said. 

"That's why it's important for superintendents in their community to play that role of working with the community to say, ‘What do we want?’" he added. "What does this community want? What do we feel is best for our kids? And invariably, it's going to be different from community and community."


Terei said the Learning 2025 model might look good when taken at face value, but she believes it has more sinister motives.

"We want to make sure that every child gets what they need," Terei said. "Of course that's what we want, I'm a special needs mom. How can anyone speak against that? But just like with many things, you can't take it for face value, you have to look at who is saying this and the intentionality behind what they're saying and what the ultimate goal is in the end."