The NEA suing Nicole Solas to stop records releases has a few intriguing possibilities.
William Jacobson is on to something when he suggests, on Legal Insurrection, that the National Education Association of Rhode Island’s lawsuit to stop release of public records in Rhode Island “smells collusive”:
Whether there was “collusion” in the sense of active cooperation or not, I can imagine a scenario in which there is no real dispute here. South Kingstown is sick of Solas’ public records requests and the embarrassment she has brought the district, and the School Committee even considered suing her then backed away after public outcry. The unions also are sick of Solas, have held at least one meeting warning about her (see prior post), and want her to go away as to public records. So both the plaintiff (the unions) and the primary defendants (the district and School Committee) are aligned in their interest in having Solas’ public records requests shut down in substantial part. This easily could have resulted in a stipulation so-ordered by the court denying production of certain records and subjecting other records to a burdensome and endless review process, essentially shutting Solas down. But there’s a problem — Solas had to be named because she is the real party in interest as the requester, as the unions admitted in the complaint.
One sees this strategy from time to time with regulatory agencies. When activists and bureaucrats both want an outcome that the legislature has not permitted, the former sue the latter and they “settle” in court to change the law. That’s what this feels like.
Jacobson goes on to question whether the real motivation for the lawsuit is that Solas and her husband requested communications between the school superintendent and a specific retired teacher, Robin Wildman, who is deeply involved in the promotion of critical race theory: “More likely, they are afraid their role in pushing CRT in South Kingstown, and targeting of Solas and other dissident parents, will be revealed.”
While this is surely part of the equation, I’m not so sure it’s more than a component. After all, a lawsuit is a very public and aggressive way to accomplish this goal and is therefore most likely to bring even more attention. Resources would probably be better spent creating distance and sowing doubt about the institutional backing of folks like Wildman (unless the collusion impression is wrong and there’s been behind-the-scenes hostility developing between the district and the union, which I doubt).
My first speculation about the lawsuit is therefore more fundamental. Teachers unions have long been progressive activist organizations that provide member services as a means of collecting taxpayer dollars to fund their activism, while also gaining access to children. There must be something central in critical race theory to the long-term plans of the national progressive movement, and the NEA is taking extreme steps to protect that.
My second speculation is that Solas and South Kingstown aren’t actually the targets, here. Parents and others are becoming increasingly aware of CRT in the schools, and once they start asking questions around the state and country, they’ll be picking up too many threads for the unions and progressives to track. If submitting public records requests moves from something that any parent might consider to something that might land you in court, many prospective anti-CRT activists may decide to occupy themselves with other things.