Lee Snodgrass’s tweet revealed a patronizing mindset toward parents: Some Democrats don’t believe parents should have a voice in public schools.
State Rep. Lee Snodgrass, D-Appleton, tweeted that parents should not “have a say” in their child’s education unless they home school their kids or pay for private school tuition out of their “family budget.”
“If parents want to ‘have a say’ in their child’s education, they should home school or pay for private school tuition out of their family budget,” Snodgrass wrote.
Lee Snodgrass, who represents District 57, tried to walk back her tweet, claiming it was lacking in nuance and that she didn’t mean what she wrote, but the damage was done. The tweet comes as parents throughout the state have stood up and demanded a greater voice in schools due to concerns over issues like Critical Race Theory and districts’ pandemic responses. Rather than welcoming parental involvement in schools, Snodgrass made it clear their opinions aren’t welcome in public schools. That sort of condescension is one reason why support for school choice for all is growing in Wisconsin.
Lee Snodgrass (whose background is ironically in communications) posted the sneeringly condescending tweet on February 10, 2022, after parents from throughout the state testified in support of Parents Rights Legislation before the Assembly’s Committee on Education.
“The arrogance required for this mindset is only surpassed by the superiority complex needed to say it out loud,” said Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin. “Unfortunately, she represents the views of far too many people whose income and politics are closely tied to the education system.”
Who are the parents who want to have a say?
Here is what one mother-of-three from Hartland, Haley Sweeney, had to say about this legislation, according to the IRG Action Fund: “It’s vital that we as parents are in charge of our children’s education, and this starts with ensuring we have the necessary legal rights and that they are protected by law. This legislation underscores the important, yet seemingly forgotten fact that parents, not the state, should always have the first and last say in any matter involving our children.”
Lee Snodgrass quickly deleted the tweet when controversy ensued, but not before people screenshotted it. “After Amber Schroeder, Lys Pollow and Emily Kute Donohue and I testified, this was the response,” wrote Scarlett Johnson, a Mequon school board candidate who attended.
Lee Snodgrass’s Tweet
Rebecca Kleefisch, the former lieutenant governor who is running in the Republican primary to replace Gov. Tony Evers, responded to Lee Snodgrass.
“I am fed up with Tony Evers and his liberal allies trying to silence parents,” Kleefisch said in a tweet responding to Snodgrass. “They believe they know what is best for your children. I believe we as parents should be in charge of our children’s education. They are our kids, not wards of the state. I will put an end to this!”
The Republican Party of Wisconsin also released a statement critical of Snodgrass. “Newsflash to Democrats: parents’ tax dollars already pay for public schools, and all parents deserve a say in their children’s education. As parents demand education transparency, Democrats remain tone-deaf, despite the mounting proof that their anti-parent message is kryptonite heading into 2022 elections,” the state GOP wrote.
“Meanwhile, Teachers Union Tony Evers has opposed bills to create a Parental Bill of Rights and improve curriculum transparency. Do Evers, Democrat Senate hopefuls, and other Wisconsin Democrat Party leaders agree with Snodgrass’ comments?”
“Democrats’ ‘pay up or shut up’ response to concerned parents is outrageous and tone-deaf,” said Republican Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Anna Kelly. “Parents already rejected Democrats’ parents-last approach to education in Virginia, and they will do so again in Wisconsin.”
According to Center Square, the Parents Bill of Rights details 15 rights that parents in Wisconsin schools would have including:
The right to determine the religion of the child.
The right to determine the type of school or educational setting the child attends.
The right to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school.
The right to review instructional materials and outlines used by the child’s school.
The right to access any education-related information regarding the child.
The right to request notice of when certain subjects will be taught or discussed in the child’s classroom.
The right to opt-out of a class or instructional materials for reasons based on either religion or personal conviction.
The right to engage with locally elected school board members of the school district in which the child is a student, including participating at regularly scheduled school board meetings.
Parents submitted this letter to legislators:
Dear Wisconsin lawmakers,
We are parents of public-school children in Wisconsin, as well as Wisconsin taxpayers. We are writing today in support of Assembly Bill (AB) 963, important and necessary legislation that will create a Parental Bill of Rights in Wisconsin.
Parents like us want to be deeply involved in the education of our children. We want to be partners with their teachers and school administrators. Unfortunately, too often the school establishment stands against parents like us who sincerely care about our children’s education and experiences while in school. This is deeply concerning to us.
We applaud Representative Gundrum, Senator Darling, and the cosponsors of AB 963 for taking a stand for parents. The legislation will help parents take back power from the public-school establishment, ultimately empowering parents and improving outcomes for children. Please support the legislation when you have an opportunity so that the fundamental rights of parents as it relates to the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of their children is clear and protected in Wisconsin.