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Conservative parent groups filed a contentious lawsuit against Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, causing the U.S. Department of Education abruptly disbanded the parent council that was created to included families in federal decisions about the pandemic recovery effort. The department announced the council in June, with plans for an initial meeting before the new school year. Parent representatives were expected to share their experiences with remote learning and thoughts on how to help students get back on track academically and emotionally. The opposing parent groups claim Cardona picked members to serve on the council who only represented liberal-leaning organizations.

Our testing community’s calls to action have included more transparent processes, committe diversity, and parent involvement. As such, this update is extremely important to note, as we prepare our related efforts locally:

The Plan

  • The department announced the council in June, with plans for an initial meeting before the new school year. Parent representatives were expected to share their experiences with remote learning and thoughts on how to help students get back on track academically and emotionally.
  • Department of Justice stated that the council was meant to act more as a “sounding board” and was not intended to serve in an advisory capacity.

The Lawsuit

  • The department “has decided to not move forward with the National Parents and Families Engagement Council,” according to a USDE statement.
  • “The Department will continue connecting with individual parents and families across the country, including through townhalls, and providing parents and families with a wide array of tools and resources to use to support our students.”
  • Opposing parent groups who filed the lawsuit include:
    • Parents Defending Education
    • Fight for Schools and Families
    • America First Legal Foundation, filed their suit.
  • They argued that the council violated a federal law that requires official advisory committees to include diverse viewpoints and for the department to publicly announce meetings ahead of time.
  • Five Republican senators joined the fray, sending Cardona a sharply worded letter that echoed the concerns expressed in the lawsuit. 

Other Advocates

  • Keri Rodrigues, president of the National Parents Union, another group on the council:
    • is one of the driving forces behind the creation of the council.
    • said the department “folded like a deck of cards in a moment that called for leadership.”
    • maintains that the plaintiffs and the department claimed to be acting in the interests of parents, “but in actuality neither have done anything tangible to prove it” and were using parents “as pawns in their convoluted culture wars.”
  • Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, said the administration had two options:
    • “disband its parent council or
    • allow for viewpoint diversity on the council
    • “They chose to disband it. It’s telling but not surprising that they chose ideology and groupthink over a balanced representation of views.”

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