Education Secretary Cardona should resign, over 100 conservative leaders say in new letter

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A long list of conservative groups is calling on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to resign after communications surfaced indicating that he may have requested the controversial National School Board Association’s (NSBA) letter suggesting school officials encountered domestic terrorism.

“Secretary Cardona’s involvement in the conception of this letter is especially alarming considering that it was subsequently used by the Department of Justice to legitimize a new initiative cracking down on vaguely defined ‘threats’ to school boards — and threatening the First Amendment rights of parents to speak freely and petition their government,” read Monday’s letter, which was signed by 120 conservative groups. 

The group was led by the Conservative Action Project. Among the signatories were American Principles Project President Terry Schilling, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, Concerned Women for America President Penny Young Nance, former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and several former congressmen. 

Miguel Cardona on Dec. 23, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. 
(Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)

Fox News reported earlier this month that an NSBA official said in an email that the letter had come after a request from Cardona.

A Department of Education spokesperson previously denied that Cardona solicited the NSBA letter, despite the email indicating he did. 

“While the secretary did not solicit a letter from NSBA, to understand the views and concerns of stakeholders, the Department routinely engages with students, teachers, parents, district leaders and education associations,” the spokesperson told Fox News Digital. 

Monday’s letter added that parents “have numerous serious reasons to be upset at the way public school officials have acted in recent months, including their unnecessary and harmful closure of schools, implementation of onerous and needless COVID-19 restrictions like student mask mandates, and injection of left-wing propaganda like critical race theory and gender ideology into the classroom. The Biden administration’s vilification of these parents is contemptible.”

(REUTERS/Gary Cameron )

“Given his apparent role in this effort to infringe on the rights of concerned parents, it is clear that Secretary Cardona can no longer credibly lead the U.S. Department of Education nor play a significant role in implementing federal education policy. We call on him to resign immediately.”

As the letter noted, the Justice Department pursued an FBI investigation looking into potential threats against school officials. Both DOJ and NSBA have indicated they didn’t view peaceful protesters as domestic terrorists.

“Local school board members want to hear from their communities on important issues and that must be at the forefront of good school board governance and promotion of free speech,” NSBA’s letter read. 

“However, there also must be safeguards in place to protect public schools and dedicated education leaders as they do their jobs.”

Merrick Garland, U.S. attorney general, speaks during the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D,C., on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. 
(Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo didn’t use the term “domestic terrorist” and clarified that “spirited debate” was not the target of his probe. 

Regardless, his memo has raised concerns among some like Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who worried about DOJ potentially chilling free speech.

“I certainly share your view that threats of violence have no place in this country, but the backdrop of your memo strongly suggests that your concern is not violence, but democratic pushback against critical race theory,” said Hawley.

He pointed to language in the NSBA letter that decried “propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula.” The NASB also asked the Biden administration to consider its powers under the Patriot Act, the sweeping surveillance legislation passed in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11.

NSBA eventually apologized for the letter.

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