Cotton presses Cardona on teachers union letter urging social media to stifle opposition to CRT

Cotton presses Cardona on teachers union letter urging social media to stifle opposition to CRT

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Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona demanding answers on a teachers union letter that followed closely after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) letter comparing concerned parents to domestic terrorists. 

Shortly after the infamous NSBA letter – which the NSBA later revoked and for which it apologized – National Education Association (NEA) sent a letter urging social media companies to silence “propaganda” about critical race theory (CRT), which had supposedly stoked “a small but violent group of radicalized parents.” Newly revealed documents show that the White House helped draft the NSBA letter and other documents suggest that Cardona solicited the NSBA letter (a claim a Department of Education spokesperson has denied).

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“Big Tech’s potential censorship of concerned parents would be a chilling addition to the Biden administration’s efforts to intimidate parents seeking a greater role in their children’s education,” Cotton wrote in his Monday letter to Cardona.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 28: Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Tom Williams-Pool)

NSBA sent its letter on Sept. 29, warning that school boards face “physical threats” due to opposition to COVID-19 policies and critical race theory. After the Department of Justice issued an Oct. 4 memorandum that echoed the letter, NSBA issued an apology for it on Oct. 22. NEA sent its letter on Oct. 8.

Cotton noted that the NEA’s Oct. 8 letter came nine days after the NSBA letter and is “remarkably similar” to that notorious missive.

“Specifically, this letter singled out ‘radicalized adults who falsely believe that graduate level courses about racism are being taught in K-12 public schools,'” Cotton wrote. “This statement appears to be a thinly veiled reference to parents who are concerned about critical race theory, a radical ideology that claims America is a fundamentally racist country and attributes moral characteristics to people on the basis of race.”

“The letter also decried a ‘small yet vocal group of extremists who are putting the safety of our children, educators, and families at risk over the notion that wearing a mask is in infringement on personal liberty,’” the senator added. “NEA accused groups concerned about curricula based on critical race theory and restrictive mask policies of spreading ‘propaganda’ and ‘lies’ on social media and requested that social-media companies ‘stamp out’ such speech.”

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Cotton wrote that “the implication of both” the NEA and the NSBA letters “is the same: individuals opposed to critical race theory and mask mandates in schools are potential domestic terrorists. Recent reporting indicates that you asked the NSBA to write its letter to President Biden. Similarities in the timing and content of the NEA letter raise the troubling possibility that you or your staff may have had a hand in that letter, as well.”

Dr. Miguel Cardona, US President-Elect Joe Biden's nominee for Education Secretary, speaks during an event announcing his nomination at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 23, 2020.

Dr. Miguel Cardona, US President-Elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Education Secretary, speaks during an event announcing his nomination at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 23, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

The senator also noted that the Biden administration had collaborated with “tech giants and teachers unions” on COVID-19 issues. He cited reports that the White House considered teachers union disputes before issuing reopening guidance and that the Centers for Disease Control tightened masking guidelines after threats from the NEA.

Cotton asked Cardona whether he or his staff or the Department of Education solicited or encouraged the NEA letter and whether Cardona or his staff have requested that social media companies “monitor, censor, demote, or otherwise limit the distribution of social media posts and groups related to school policies?” Cotton also requested all correspondence between the Department of Education and the NEA, and between the department and the social media giants to which the NEA addressed its letter.

Cotton’s letter comes almost two weeks after Ian Prior, a Virginia father and executive director at Fight for Schools, urged Republicans to “get to the bottom” of the NEA letter. 

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“This looks like a concerted effort between the federal government and outside groups like the NEA and NSBA to interfere with the First Amendment rights of parents,” Prior told Fox News earlier this month. Noting the claims about the White House and Cardona, he said that “it doesn’t stretch the imagination to believe that the federal government was also involved in the NEA letter.”

Ian Prior headshot

Ian Prior headshot (Ian Prior)

“Senate and House Republicans should do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of it,” Prior suggested.

The Department of Education did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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