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Parents for open schools are being smeared — to keep them off NYC’s education councils

There has been a growing, orchestrated effort over the last three years by some groups to label the parents’ rights movement right-wing — and the media are buying it.

They portray the campaign as a contagion spreading from hillbilly red states to previously liberal enclaves in the north.

Even — gasp! — to New York City, our once-safe haven of liberalism!

If the attitude seems to reek of coastal elitism, you’re not wrong.

The details offered in the hit pieces are scant, but who cares? Slapping a right-wing label on anything in New York City, no matter how disingenuous, is the kiss of death.

And their real target is the city’s schoolchildren — and the school elections finishing Tuesday.

Parents learned this lesson when we demanded that schools reopen during the pandemic.

With lightning speed, the teachers union employed propagandist tactics, launching a relentless campaign to brand the open-schools movement racist — just a bunch of selfish rich white moms missing their me-time and yoga classes.

(Someone recently tweeted this at one of us, who labored in person throughout lockdowns as an essential worker.)

The backlash to parents demanding a return to normal for our children made our heads spin and served, as intended, to scare away some, who were shocked and bruised by the vicious attacks.

Parents attending a meeting for the NYC School Board Community Education Council District 2 in New York.
Christopher Sadowski

But we kept on. Every missed milestone felt like a dagger. We watched our children lose interest in life and learning, and it didn’t take much to see how the poorest kids, or those with unhappy home lives, would be most harmed.

Nonetheless, the smears continue to this day.

Without any of the glory that usually comes with being right, open-schools parents have been vindicated in our predictions.

But that’s already old news. The target has moved. It’s now the parents’ rights movement accused of being close-minded egotistical dolts.

The teachers union launched a campaign to brand the open-schools movement problematic.
Getty Images/Michael Loccisano

It’s curious that in the last few days a number of media outlets have decided to dive into the New York City Schools Community and Citywide Education Councils elections, setting their sights on dismantling the influence volunteer parent group PLACE has had recommending candidates.

“Some parents warn of conservative culture wars in NYC’s education council elections” was Gothamist’s vague headline.

“If you think right-wing campaigns to affect education are only happening in red states, think again, and think very local,” warned WNYC’s Brian Lehrer.

The City, a news website, was just as ominous: “City Education Council Elections Bring Polarizing National Issues to Local School Districts.”

Even uber-leftist celebrity activist Cynthia Nixon of “Sex in the City” fame got in on the game. “A problematic parent group,” she tweeted, “with leaders who spew anti-trans and pro-white supremacist rhetoric is going all out to win seats across NYC.”

students going upstairs
The upcoming school elections end on Tuesday.
Getty Images/John Moore

It’s an odd focus for a media that were rather uninterested in children’s well-being throughout the pandemic.

The last day for parents to vote in these elections is Tuesday, and from all accounts, turnout is dismal.

Wonder who sounded the alarm?

In reality, PLACE is a grassroots, nonpolitical and exceedingly diverse parent organization co-founded by Yiatin Chu, an Asian immigrant.

The group, Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education, was formed to fight former Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s misguided mission to remove screening and gifted-and-talented programs for the supposed goal of equity.

The great irony, of course, is that such a mission destroys the very ladder rungs immigrants and low-income families climb to achieve success.

Richard A. Carranza
Former Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza visits a classroom at Codwell Elementary School in Houston, Texas.
AP/David J. Phillip

The implication of the hit pieces on PLACE is that such academically focused organizations are culturally intolerant — and demanding a high-quality rigorous education for all students is racist and elitist.

Someone please tell that to Charles Love, a black parent PLACE endorsed, running for a seat in District 2.

Concerned with city schools’ increasing focus on equity, race and gender, he decided to run, he writes, because “these efforts don’t involve raising up those impacted by real racism and real academic gaps between the wealthy and everyone else; they instead drag everyone else down, canceling achievement benchmarks or eliminating standards altogether.”

While the assault on the parents’ rights drive continues, it’s important for all parents to understand they are part of the movement.

Parents have the right to demand that a public education be absent political and ideological indoctrination.

In truth, parents’ rights is a misnomer: Parents are fighting for our children. And with such an important responsibility, we will not be beholden to the whims of any political party.

So, New York City parents, go and vote for your children’s futures. You have until Tuesday.

Yasmina Palumbo is a public-school parent, advocate for civil rights and pandemic response accountability and co-editor of Restore Childhood Substack. Natalya Murakhver is co-founder of the nonprofit Restore Childhood. She is producing a documentary on school shutdowns, “15 Days. . .”

Twitter: @RstoreChildhood

This story originally appeared on NYPost

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