Amanda Marcotte: Moms for Liberty meets its match: Parents in this swing suburban district are fighting back
Amanda Marcotte, reporting for Salon, provides a deep dive into the shenanigans in Pennridge, the Pennsylvania district where Moms For Liberty is trying to gain a foothold for MAGA in a swing state.
“About two years ago now, I was hearing stuff about the school board and just, like, not really believing what was going on,” said Laura Foster, who graduated from Pennridge herself and moved back to the area to enroll her own kids in the school. “Then I started going to school board meetings. I’m like, what is going on here?”
Newly elected board members “were all fired up and they were saying that critical race theory was rampant in our schools, and radical gender theory,” said local parent Darren Laustsen. “That we were teaching our kids to hate their white skin. I was like, oh man, these are not serious people. My daughter was getting ready to go into first grade and I was like, man, we gotta do something about this.”
As the Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported, but Pennridge parents almost certainly didn’t know at the time, their school board was one of many across the nation, specifically concentrated in districts that could swing the presidential election, that had been targeted for takeover by Moms for Liberty. “[F]ive of the nine Pennridge School Board members are linked to Moms for Liberty, the far-right so-called parental rights organization,” the SPLC noted.
Members of the Ridge Network repeatedly used the word “playbook” to describe what they’ve seen spool out since the Moms for Liberty takeover. First came the elimination of diversity, equality and inclusion policies, commonly known as DEI. Then the censorship campaign began, first by removing Pride flags from classrooms and then removing specific books about specific subjects from classrooms and school libraries. Then came an abrupt push to rewrite the entire social studies curriculum to advance what looked a lot like far-right ideology.
Over the past year or so, said Ridge Network parent Jane Cramer, “The momentum really escalated and there were several different policies” that the school board tried to push through at the same time. She suggested it was a “specific strategy” of “throwing a lot at people, all at once, to overwhelm them.”
This suspicion that the school board was flooding the zone with you-know-what was seemingly confirmed this past summer, when Moms for Liberty held its summit in Philadelphia, just a half-hour drive from the Pennridge district. At that summit, a purported education expert named Jordan Adams gave a speech explaining the blitz strategy aimed at imposing a right-wing agenda on a school district over community objections.