Opponents of critical race theory (CRT) are declaring victory but are also demanding more accountability after the National School Board Association (NSBA) apologized for the explosive letter it sent earlier this month.
The NSBA in a memo Friday told members it "regret[s] and apologize[s] for the letter," adding that there was "no justification for some of the language included in the letter." It came shortly after news surfaced that the White House had communicated with the NSBA regarding the letter – which controversially suggested school boards were facing domestic terrorism that could be combatted with the Patriot Act.
Chris Rufo, the researcher leading the charge against CRT, described the NSBA memo as the latest in a series of victories for his movement. "The anti-CRT movement has been posting W's all year. Love it," he said. Rufo's comments came amid a nationwide battle over CRT and other so-called "woke" influences, which have prompted legislation, lawsuits and widespread protests by parents. The battle has played out in states like South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem scrapped the state social studies standards amid backlash over purportedly left-wing elements.
"We are standing shoulder to shoulder across the country and our voices are being heard!" tweeted the anti-CRT group Moms for Liberty. Parents Defending Education (PDE) President Nicole Neily said: "A $19 million trade association has nothing on a bunch of mad moms."
Meanwhile, counter-protests have emerged, and many administrators and politicians have refused to reverse course. Defenders have maintained that CRT and related ideas help foster understanding between racial groups and combat systemic biases against minorities.
For example, school districts like Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) in Virginia – perhaps the most prominent in this debate – have argued that anti-racist training bolsters inclusion.
Then-acting Superintendent Scott Ziegler previously said: "In explaining LCPS' equity priorities, it might be helpful to state what they are not. They are not an effort to indoctrinate students and staff into a particular philosophy or theory. What they are is an effort to provide a welcoming, inclusive, affirming environment for all students."
Ziegler, however, encountered extensive backlash for the way he handled an alleged sexual assault against a high school girl. That issue prompted an apology from Ziegler and eventually resignation from a state legislator.
CRT opponents are seeking further accountability, however, arguing that the Biden administration and NSBA haven't fully reckoned with their treatment of parents.
"[T]he letter is also a huge miss because it offers no apology to parents," wrote PDE's Erika Sanzi.
"Not nearly good enough," tweeted anti-CRT author James Lindsay. "We must push this abuse all the way back." Rufo specifically targeted the FBI and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who announced a nationwide investigation shortly after the NSBA's letter.
"Next step: we need to turn the screw on Attorney General Garland, who secretly colluded with outside groups to mobilize the FBI against political opponents and whose family benefits financially from CRT in schools," he said. "We must hammer him every day until he calls off the FBI dragnet."
Rufo was referring to PDE's finding that Garland's son-in-law ran a contractor that promoted CRT-related materials and had tens of millions of dollars worth of contracts with school systems. That issue quickly caught the attention of activists and politicians who openly questioned whether Garland had a conflict of interest.
During last week's House Judiciary hearing, Garland did not directly address the conflict of interest accusations. He did, however, distance himself from NSBA – noting that his memo did not mention the words domestic terrorism or Patriot Act. His initial memo maintained that parents reserved the right for spirited debate, but critics worried his and NSBA's rhetoric would chill free speech.