After calling parents domestic terrorists, NSBA discovers: Get woke, go broke -- literally

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Does the National School Board Association still have enough money left in its coffers to send Joe Biden and Merrick Garland nice fruit baskets? Seventeen NSBA affiliates have cut ties with the NSBA over their coordination with the White House and Department of Justice in casting parental complaints over curricula “domestic terrorism.” And as Axios reports, they’re taking their checkbooks with them — accounting for a 40% loss in revenue at the NSBA:

The National School Boards Association has since apologized, but the fallout could be seven figures in annual funding. At least 17 state affiliates have severed ties with the group — and some are even considering establishing a competitor.

The 17 state affiliates accounted for more than 40% of annual dues paid to NSBA by its state association members in 2019, according to Axios’ analysis of documents detailing those contributions.

Officials fear upheaval at the organization — the nation’s leading trade group representing U.S. public schools — will handicap it just as national debates over school curricula and COVID-19 mitigation measures dominate the political conversation.

The controversy “has weakened a national voice for public education,” wrote Steve Gallon III, a Miami-Dade County school board member and chair of NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education, in an email to NSBA leadership last month.

It “has caused further devastation to the already dangerously fragile financial position of NSBA in the loss of revenue in the millions” and “abated coordinated, national efforts around issues of educational equity,” Gallon wrote.

“Educational equity” might have been one issue with the NSBA’s affiliates. The radical nature of the curricula. pushed by the NSBA and some state and local affiliates have raised the ire of parents — parents who vote in school-board elections. Before the pandemic, these curricula choices largely flew under the radar, but the veil has been lifted. Virginia’s election turned into a parental awakening nationwide, and the NSBA’s local and state affiliates are responding to the new incentive structure.

However, Lachlan Markay and Stef Knight report that the letter to Garland was more of a final straw of longstanding frustration by these affiliates. The latest to leave, Alabama’s state affiliate, told Axios that significant problems at the NSBA long predated the controversy, which executive director Sally Smith described as merely “symptoms of that dysfunction.” Markay and Knight note as well that state associations had already begun balking at NSBA’s leadership in a 2020 report prompted by a demand for more dues by the NSBA.

Instead, the NSBA will have to limp along with less income — a lot less income. The official figure is $1.1 million lost from state associations, but Axios notes that this is only one piece of lost funding. A number of local boards have also cut ties with the NSBA in the wake of the controversy, with a significant loss of revenue there as well. Plus, the state boards provided other funding for conferences and events on NSBA’s behalf, opportunities for revenue which will likely now disappear.

Speaking of new incentive structures, it appears that the NSBA overlooked one important recent development: Get woke, go broke. The radical obsession with race-determinism and the divisions it produces turn out to be not just terribly unpopular but spectacularly so outside of faculty lounges and Democratic Party inner sanctums. The NSBA’s arrogance in ignoring those incentives by attempting to leverage the FBI to protect its radical positions on curricula have made this one of the more spectacular examples of this new incentive structure, and perhaps the most entertaining.