The Missouri School Boards’ Association released a letter on Oct. 25 officially withdrawing from the National School Boards’ Association following a vote by the board the week before. This decision came after a letter from the national organization to the White House requesting that people who had attempted to intimidate and coerce school board members be prosecuted by the federal government under the Patriot Act.
Many Missourian politicians, including Gov. Mike Parson and state Sen. Caleb Rowden, have publicly supported the Missouri group’s decision. Parson said in a news release Oct. 26, “In Missouri, we have strict laws to hold those accountable who harass or threaten school personnel. Our highly-trained local law enforcement are more than capable of handling these situations and do not need the DOJ or FBI injecting federal bureaucracy into our local matters.”
This statement is a straw man fallacy, because no one is arguing that Missouri is incapable of dealing with acts of domestic terror. The national organization is simply arguing that people who threaten and intimidate school board members are committing domestic terrorism under the Patriot Act and should be prosecuted justly according to federal law.
By choosing to leave the national association after the letter to the White House, the Missouri School Boards’ Association reacted to a seemingly apolitical statement with an overtly political decision.
In its letter to the White House, the national group did not directly cite any events of domestic terrorism from Missouri, therefore the Missouri School Boards’ Association had no reason to leave the national group if politics had not been involved.
This argument stated by the Missouri School Boards’ Association when it left, and perpetuated by Gov. Parson, is not only bad but unconstitutional. The Constitution clearly states in Article II, Section 3 that the executive “shall take Care that the Laws [passed by Congress] be faithfully executed.” This means that the federal government has the duty to enforce the Patriot Act, which describes domestic terrorism as “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”
According to that definition, people who threaten school board members for the policies they make are indeed domestic terrorists and should be prosecuted by the federal government to the fullest extent of the law. The fact that Gov. Parson and the Missouri School Boards’ Association both believe that the federal government should not do its duty to protect the citizens of this nation, is appalling and worrisome.
Despite the National School Boards’ Association’s requests being completely constitutional and in the best interest of students, Gov. Parson still condemned its letter and applauded the MSBA’s decision to leave, which shows that Parson does not support the federal government and its authority to faithfully execute its laws. His statements regarding the exit are not the first statements made by Missouri Republicans that show a division between the state of Missouri and the federal government, they are just the latest in a disturbing trend of Republican anti-federalist ideation.
The Missouri School Boards’ Association separating from the national organization did nothing but harm Missouri and its citizens. It provides less protection to Missouri students by getting rid of a layer of helpful oversight that is much needed in the state that, according to World Population Review, only spends $10,810 per student on education annually, which is $1,802 below the national average. It also served as a means for Missouri Republicans to further the disunity between Missouri and the federal government.
Republicans don’t do this to support the people of Missouri, they do this because of their dislike of President Joe Biden. It was wrong of the MSBA to leave the national group because it was a strictly political decision that allowed Republicans to further their goal of letting partisanship stand in the way of what is best for Missouri and its people.
Arley Gale is a double major in political science and philosophy at Westminster College in Fulton.