Christine Palm, Frank Hanley Santuro: Dark money behind school board conflicts
The representative for the 36th Connecticut General Assembly District and a former assistant U.S. attorney team up for a look at just what’s helping fuel the big school boards controversies. From the Stanford Advocate.
Clearly, something is afoot. Why is this happening suddenly and simultaneously in so many different places around the state (and indeed the country)? Why is the pattern so similar? Why does it seem peculiar to affluent Connecticut towns? Why do some protests turn disruptive? Why pick on CRT, which schools don’t even teach (it’s a post-secondary pedagogical tool)? This doesn’t sound like something that just happened to occur to parents at a local bake sale.
The explanation may lie with Steve Bannon. According to Bannon, “This is the Tea Party to the 10th power,” and “The path to save the nation is very simple. It’s going to go through the school boards.” Before he was pardoned by Trump, Bannon was the guy arrested at sea off Westbrook on a Chinese billionaire’s yacht for allegedly siphoning over a million dollars from a “We Build the Wall” scheme. According to news reports, he was also accused by an ex-wife of objecting to the Archer School in Los Angeles for his daughters because, she said, he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”
The phenomenon may also be explained by Nicole Neily — the president of Parents Defending Education, whose targets include several Connecticut towns. PDE describes itself as a “grassroots” organization, and Neily once was quoted as saying, “We’re all working moms.” But according to several sources including Sourcewatch, Neily is a veteran operative of the Koch network. She’s not alone. Other astroturf operatives include Russ Vought, a former Trump official whose group publishes the “Toolkit” for taking over school boards; Christopher Rufo, whose anti-CRT activism earned him an invitation to the Trump White House; and Keri Rodriques, who was reportedly paid $388,000 in 2017 and 2018 for her advocacy work. Anti-CRT activity seems a profitable cottage industry for the apparatchiks of MAGA world.