‘A Political Juggernaut’: Corey DeAngelis On The Power Of Parents Standing Up To School Boards

His New Book ‘The Parent Revolution’ Chronicles How Parents Across The Nation Pushed Back Against COVID Lockdowns
SDI Productions. Getty Images. A confident little boy smiles for the camera as he embraces his father after the first day of school. He has just ridden the school bus home.
SDI Productions. Getty Images.

The following is an interview with author Corey DeAngelis, Ph.D., about his new book “The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids From The Radicals Ruining Our Schools.” (May 2024, Center Street/Hachette Book Group)

DW: Corey, you dedicate “The Parent Revolution” to parents, of course, but you also include a dedication to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Why?

DeAngelis: Randi Weingarten and the teachers unions overplayed their hand and have inadvertently done more to advance school choice and homeschooling than anyone could have ever imagined. By fighting to keep schools closed, the unions showed their true colors and awakened a sleeping giant: parents. Families got to see that their children’s schools were focusing more on radical leftist indoctrination than education and that mobilized parents to wake up and push back. The parent revolution turned education freedom into a GOP litmus-test issue, and that has translated into 11 red states passing universal school choice since 2021. For far too long in K-12 education, the only special interests represented the employees – the adults – in the system. But now, the kids have a union of their own: their parents. We’re now freeing families from the depraved clutches of the teachers unions once and for all, and the unions have themselves to thank for losing their monopoly.

DW: “The Parent Revolution” delves into the deleterious effects of the COVID lockdowns on students nationwide. In fact, you highlight one particular quote from a frustrated mother in NYC who wrote: “I am no longer content to let four men—Bill de Blasio, Michael Mulgrew, Richard Carranza and Andrew Cuomo—decide whether my children can go to school and whether I, as a working mother, can have a job and a career.” Was this the beginning of parents pushing back?

DeAngelis: Yes, “two weeks to slow the spread” turned into two years to flatten a generation because of prolonged school closures. The power-hungry unions held children’s education hostage to secure billions of dollars in ransom payments from taxpayers. Randi Weingarten’s union threatened strikes in 2020 and even lobbied the CDC to keep schools closed as long as possible.

The good news is their plan backfired. Families got to see what was going on in their children’s classroom during remote learning. Families who thought their kids were in good public schools witnessed another dimension of school quality that’s arguably more important than standardized test scores: whether the school’s curriculum aligned with their family’s values. 

Voddie Baucham said it best: “We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.” The good news is parents are no longer surprised. They cannot unsee the rot they’ve witnessed in the government school system.

Parents have since become a political force to be reckoned with. They’re more powerful than the teachers unions because parents care about their kids more than anyone else and outnumber the employees in the system. After the National School Boards Association sent a letter to Joe Biden suggesting parents should be investigated for “domestic terrorism,” at least 26 states pulled their funding or membership from the organization. The status quo’s attempt to bully and silence parents into submission for wanting a say in their children’s education only emboldened them to fight back even harder. 

Parents can become a political juggernaut if they band together. Their predicted “red wave” didn’t happen in 2022. But there was a school choice wave. 76% of the candidates supported by my organization, the American Federation for Children and our state affiliates, won their races in 2022. We also targeted 69 incumbents in state legislatures – the hardest thing to do in politics – and we took out 40 of them for opposing parental rights in education.

Ten of the 13 “Republicans” targeted by AFC Victory Fund – my organization’s super PAC – for voting against school choice either lost their elections outright or were forced to runoffs in Texas in 2024. The message is now clear: support parental rights in education or lose your job.

Courtesy: CenterStreet/Hachette Book Group

Courtesy: CenterStreet/Hachette Book Group

DW: During that same time, you became vocal on social media, exposing hypocrisy and taking on powerful leaders in America’s public education machine. Why did you voluntarily take on that mantle?

DeAngelis: The prolonged government school closures were insane. The data consistently showed schools should have been the first institutions to open and the last to close, yet the opposite happened because of the control freaks running the unions. Private schools and businesses were open or fighting to reopen. Government school unions were fighting to remain closed. The main difference was one of incentives. Teachers unions knew they could keep receiving children’s education dollars regardless of whether they opened their doors for business. But it was actually worse than that, because they knew they could leverage school closures to extract more resources from taxpayers.

The unions needed to be exposed for hurting children. The hypocrisy didn’t stop with them fighting to keep schools closed while vacationing overseas, though. The Los Angeles teachers union included unrelated political demands in their report on “safely” reopening schools. They let the mask slip by calling for Medicare for All, a wealth tax, police-free schools, and a ban on new charter schools. The Chicago Teachers Union boss, Stacy Davis Gates, sent her son to a private school just a year after calling school choice racist.

Their positions have no basis in logic. The unions fight against school choice to protect their own monopoly. They want to trap other people’s kids–and the money meant for educating them–in their failing government schools to keep their gravy train going. Almost all of the teachers union campaign contributions go to Democrats, too, so the Democrat Party has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the teachers unions. 99.97% of the campaign contributions from Randi Weingarten’s union – the American Federation of Teachers – went to Democrats in 2022.

That influence often makes union-controlled politicians look like hypocrites on school choice as well. North Carolina’s Democrat Governor Roy Cooper, for example, declared a state of emergency to try to block school choice after he sent his own kid to a private school. Talk about an abuse of emergency power.

DW: All of this led to you becoming the leader of the Red State Strategy. What is that strategy?

DeAngelis: The school choice movement made a mistake focusing too much on making lefty arguments that appeal to Democrats. The argument that school choice is an equalizer that disproportionately helps the least advantaged kids who are stuck in failing government schools is a good one, but it didn’t translate to legislative victories. The Democrat politicians continued to vote with the teachers unions even if they were on our side privately because politicians often respond more to power than logic or morality. At the same time, Republican politicians didn’t feel as much pressure to vote for school choice since it was viewed as a bipartisan policy.

The Covid-era school closures helped turn school choice into a GOP litmus-test issue because conservative parents started paying close attention to the education system and politicians’ votes. Putting a spotlight on these votes helped Republican primary voters hold politicians accountable and pass universal school choice in 11 red states in just a few years. As red states engage in friendly competition to empower all families with education freedom, Democrats will feel more pressure to come along. In the book, I call this phenomenon “bipartisanship through hyperpartisanship.” The more the GOP leans into parental rights in education as a political winner, the more Democrats will be pressured to side with their constituents as opposed to special interests. 

We saw what happened with former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe when he said “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach” during the final gubernatorial debate in 2021. In a state that went ten points to Biden just the year before, McAuliffe ended up losing to Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, by six points with voters who listed education as their top priority, and that turned out to be the number two most important issue in that election. In 2022, then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, changed his education platform to include private school choice right before his gubernatorial election even though he was up by double digits in the polls. He even went on Fox News in 2023 reiterating his support for school choice. Whether he was reading the tea leaves or it was a true change of heart is not that important. That a high-profile Democrat who was up in the polls felt compelled to publicly signal support for school choice is good news for families in the long-run.

As Milton Friedman famously said, “I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.” I believe we’re reaching that point on the issue of education freedom because parents are now engaged.

DW: Your opponents say, “No one in education policy, advocacy, or activism has ever lived rent-free in more heads at once than Corey DeAngelis.” Why is that true?

DeAngelis: They’re losing control over the minds of other people’s children and they can’t handle it. They’ve been so drunk on power for so long that they don’t know how to deal with defeat. They also see the school system not as a means to educate productive citizens but as a way to raise other people’s kids in their socialist worldview. The radical Left doesn’t even need to have their own kids to shape the future of this country because they’ve infiltrated the government school system. School choice threatens the power the radical left has over the system, but more importantly the future of our country. That’s why they lose their minds over school choice more than anything else. It strikes at the root of socialist control.

DW: You use the term ‘government schools’ throughout the book. Why?

DeAngelis: They are run by the government. They are regulated by the government. They are assigned by the government. They are compelled by the government. They are funded by the government. They aren’t “public” in any meaningful sense of the word. They aren’t open to the public. They discriminate by ZIP code. Families have been fined and even gone to jail for lying about their address to get their kids into better “public” schools. They aren’t accountable to the public. Baltimore has dozens of schools with zero students proficient in math, and the nation’s report card shows two-thirds of American students are not proficient in reading despite taxpayers spending about $20,000 per year on their education. They aren’t a “public good” according to the economic definition, either. They are government schools, even if the truth hurts some people’s feelings. The real question is why does this basic truth upset so many people? It might be because it’s a tough pill to swallow knowing that the government sucks at just about everything it runs and that tens of millions of American kids attend government-run schools each year.

DW: Loudoun County, Virginia, quickly became “Exhibit A” of parents battling an entrenched school board. What do you think was the turning point for the parents of Loudoun County?

DeAngelis: The National School Boards Association sent a letter to Joe Biden suggesting parents should be investigated for “domestic terrorism” for making their voices heard at school board meetings. That infamous letter cited a story about the arrest of a parent who was upset at a school board meeting about his daughter being sexually assaulted in a school bathroom. The father, Scott T. Smith – who was later pardoned by Governor Glenn Youngkin – was concerned a transgender bathroom policy would put more girls in danger. A grand jury report later concluded that the school board covered it up and lied about it to the public, which explains why the father was so upset that day. Luke Rosiak published Smith’s full story in the Daily Wire in mid-October, right in the midst of Virginia’s gubernatorial contest. The story was explosive. The truth reignited parents’ anger and gave it added force. This story added to Terry McAuliffe’s infamous gaffe during the final debate when he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Glenn Youngkin made parental rights in education a centerpiece of his campaign and showed the GOP how to win as the Parents’ Party.

ASHBURN, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 07: Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin greets voters as they head to the polls at Newton-Lee Elementary School November 7, 2023 in Ashburn, Virginia. With control of Virginia’s General Assembly at stake, results of the day’s voting could potentially impact the commonwealth’s abortion policies as well as the national political future of Youngkin. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Win McNamee/Getty Images

DW: Working parents can often feel out of touch with their kids’ school. How can they take steps to get more involved?

DeAngelis: Talk to your children’s teacher and show up to the school board meetings to voice your opinion. Run for school board if it has been co-opted by radicals who care more about fringe indoctrination than education. Call your legislators and urge them to pass universal school choice. Education funding is meant for educating children, not for protecting a particular institution. We should fund students, not systems. Passing universal school choice changes the power dynamic between parents and school boards. When families have the power to take their children’s education dollars with them, school boards have a stronger incentive to listen to parents instead of cutting off their mics or labeling them as evil people. With school choice, parents are viewed as customers – with respect – as opposed to a nuisance. Choice gives families more agency.

DW: Finally, as you may have heard, the 2024 presidential election is just around the corner. Are you concerned about who will take up residence in the White House for the next four years and how they might influence public education?

DeAngelis: The GOP has emerged as the Parents’ Party. But President Donald Trump was fighting for parents with school choice even before the parent revolution ignited in 2020. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is a hypocrite on school choice. He went to private school and sent his kids to private school, yet he opposes school choice for other families. President Trump has supported federal tax credit proposals to provide families with scholarships for private education. One such proposal is the Educational Choice for Children Act in Congress. It already has about 140 Republican cosponsors in the House, including Speaker Mike Johnson.

* * *

The Parent Revolution: Rescuing Your Kids from the Radicals Ruining Our Schools,by Corey A. DeAngelis, Ph.D., (CenterStreet/Hachette Book Group) is now available

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

Create Free Account

Continue reading this exclusive article and join the conversation, plus watch free videos on DW+

Already a member?

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘A Political Juggernaut’: Corey DeAngelis On The Power Of Parents Standing Up To School Boards