Can a fake apology reverse political suicide? National School Boards Association (NSBA) CEO Chip Slaven and NSBA President Viola Garcia certainly hope so, after the blowback from their well-publicized letter to President Biden in which they asked the administration to open a domestic terrorism investigation into parents. On Friday the NSBA issued another letter, trying to distance itself from that previous letter. "We regret and apologize for the letter," they wrote. "We should have a better process in place."
"I don't accept the apology because I don't believe it's sincere," said Florida mother Quisha King, who spoke at FRC's recent Pray Vote Stand Summit in Loudoun County, Virginia. This is unsurprising, given that the NSBA's letter resembles an apology as well as a child's crayon imitation resembling Starry Night. For starters, the letter never admits wrongdoing in calling parents domestic terrorists, although most incidents they cited involved no threats (and while Attorney General Merrick Garland immediately opened an investigation because of a "disturbing uptick" in threats he pled ignorance about specifics before Congress).
The closest it came to an admission of guilt was a single sentence, tucked inside a larger paragraph, "However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter." Which language? How much? Note the impersonal, passive expression: "there was no justification"—a far easier admission for someone suppressing pangs of conscience than the more direct: "I was wrong."
The non-apology is not to parents, but to "NSBA Members"—that is, local school board organizations. The letter was merely to mollify its constituent organizations, after at least 21 state school board associations have distanced themselves from the anti-parent letter, some even threatening to end their membership. The state boards claimed, rightly, that they were never consulted about whether to fire off such an incendiary missive. In fact, emails obtained by FOIA reveal that while NSBA officials colluded with White House staff, they didn't even consult their own Board of Directors.
Nor is it clear that the offending representatives signed on to the non-apology. The letter comes, without signatures, simply from the "NSBA Board of Directors." It's unclear whether either Garcia or Slaven are voting members of this sizable group. If the letter comes from them, why didn't they sign? If not, how can others apologize for their behavior while failing to hold them accountable in any way? The letter promises to "do better going forward" by conducting "a formal review of our processes and procedures," which is a standard way for bureaucrats to pass the buck. Is anyone apologizing for anything in this letter?
For the past year, parents have been raking local school board officials over the coals for anti-child policies from shuttering classrooms to imposing mask mandates to indoctrinating children with a toxic cocktail of race-baiting, age-inappropriate sexual content, and LGBT-glorifying curriculum. The NSBA officials' failed gambit just demonstrated they couldn't take the heat. The plan was to unite America's school boards with the federal government against parents. Instead, school board associations defected to parents, leaving the activist officials over their skis.
The blunder has made Democrats desperate. This weekend former President Obama, speaking in Virginia, criticized Right-wing media for peddling "phony, trumped-up culture wars." But the only phoniness lies in those painting parents as the villains, and in those issuing fake apologies. Perhaps the clearest response came from radio host Larry O'Connor, "Let's be clear: THEY are waging the culture war. WE are fighting back."