As if teaching isn’t hard enough already, now schools and school boards have to face yet another threat: from right-wing nuts who object to trying to prevent the spread of Covid-19. From the Washington Post:
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday ordered the FBI to work with local leaders nationwide to help address what he called a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against educators and school board members over highly politicized issues such as mask mandates and interpretations of critical race theory.
In a memorandum to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and federal prosecutors, Garland wrote that the Justice Department will hold strategy sessions with law enforcement in the next 30 days and is expected to announce measures in response to “the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel” in the nation’s public schools.
“While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,” he wrote. “Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
Garland’s order comes days after the National School Boards Association, a group representing school board members across the United States, pleaded with President Biden for federal assistance to help investigate and stop the recent threats against educators. The group said in a letter to Biden that much of the vitriol has involved policies focusing on mask mandates to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The NSBA likened the harassment and abuse over face coverings in schools to domestic terrorism.
“America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” the group wrote to Biden.
I’m old enough to remember the hatred and the violence against desegregation in the 1960’s, and this is getting to be on the same level of vitriol and terror. There were also more than a few local officials and governors who backed the thuggery, claiming “freedom” as a cover for their blatant racism. It’s the same chant now, but this time it’s a contagious disease that is already spreading among the unvaccinated students. Of course headline-grabbing and base-grubbing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading the charge.
“Attorney General Garland is weaponizing the DOJ [Department of Justice] by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation,” DeSantis’ post read. “Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent.”
The school where I work has regular drills for fires and tornadoes. In recent years in light of the massacre at Parkland, we’ve added Code Red drills for active shooters. Now it looks like we’ll have to include ones against wing-nuts and politicians who exploit stupidity and ignorance.