March 28, 2024

Steve Nuzum: Rep. April Cromer and her allies dox librarians

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Former South Carolina teacher Steve Nuzum profiles one of the state’s more virulent culture panic actors.

Late last year, SC Representative April Cromer made an extremely broad Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request1 with Anderson One Schools which resulted in a production of around 17,000 pages of documents at the school district’s expense2.

Cromer’s request and further information are available here, via SC-ACLU.

Placing strain on district staff is itself a frequent tactic of Moms for Liberty and related groups, but the FOIA request and Cromer’s cooperation have also been used to reveal names and personal information of several Anderson One educators, including in a blog post light on evidence and thick with conspiracy theories and out-of-context quotes. And Cromer’s close political allies have moved quickly to use the post to call for the termination of librarians and teachers targeted by the request.

An excerpt of one of Cromer’s two formal FOIA requests with Anderson One Schools.

This tactic, often called doxing, has been a frequent method of harassing librarians, teachers, board members, and other district employees. Many examples were captured in formal SC Department of Education documents as part of the work of the state Teacher Retention and Recruitment Task Force (see appendix) and across the country. SC Education Superintendent Ellen Weaver explicitly referenced this document in a politicized attack against state librarians.

An analysis of statements and actions by Cromer and her association demonstrates a willingness to use state power to punish school employees for expressing views they don’t like, and to remove those views from the public sphere in favor of those supported by partisan political groups.

Cromer was elected in 2022 and quickly signed onto the most extreme parts of the SC Freedom Caucus agenda. In perhaps the most well-known example, she co-sponsored a bill with members of the group that would have required the death penalty for pregnant women who obtained abortions.

Cromer ran on a platform linking “school choice” (vouchers/ tax subsidies for parents sending their children to private schools) with an opposition to what she called “Critical Race Theory” at the time— she has since pivoted, along with Moms for Liberty, to a broader focus on “pornography,” labeling librarians and other school staff who promote books she doesn’t like as “groomers”.

As is often the case with the Moms for Liberty movement, Cromer’s interest in books is probably not really about books, but about a larger set of culture war issues.

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