By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Liberal state Rep. Lee Snodgrass had her own Terry McAuliffe moment on Twitter Thursday, exposing once again what Wisconsin Democrats really think about parents who have the “audacity” to question what their kids are “learning” in public schools.
Wisconsin state representative just deleted this tweet. pic.twitter.com/Mj8pEs9afe
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) February 10, 2022
The Appleton Democrat was instantly criticized for the kind of rare moment of honesty from a Democrat that helped lose Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe the 2020 election.
“This is more than just (Snodgrass). This is leadership in the Democratic Party in Wisconsin that vehemently believes that government knows best. They believe government institutions know best in all things, including in how to raise our kids,” said Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton), who easily defeated Snodgrass in the 2018 race for the 19th Senate District seat he’s held since 2015.
Snodgrass is certainly no backbencher. She is a leader in her caucus and serves as vice chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
“I am fed up with Tony Evers and his liberal allies trying to silence parents,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch tweeted 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!”
Snodgrass defended deleting her tweet in a follow-up tweet, saying it was lacking “in nuance and easily misinterpreted.” But there’s really no mistaking her meaning. Her comments are strikingly similar to what many political strategists say was McCauliffe’s blunder when the establishment Democrat in a debate said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” He said as much as parents in Virginia were speaking out against radical curriculum in public schools, and just as the Biden administration declared war on parents for doing so.
And Thursday’s tweet wasn’t the first time Snodgrass attacked parents who choose school choice. Last week, she went after Roth and his conservative colleagues for their package of bills on education reform. She made it personal.
“These bills further erode public education, weaken schools, and punish schools for COVID containment measures, create municipal revenue hardships, and ignore student needs. Roger Roth homeschools his 5 boys. Get your nose out of our public schools,” Snodgrass tweeted.
Beyond her alarmist declaration and factual errors (the Roth family is presently homeschooling three of their children), Snodgrass forgets that taxpaying families are the ones picking up the tab for public education in Wisconsin.
Roth said what is implied in her tweets is that if “you’re not wealthy, you’re screwed.”
“That’s what’s she’s saying, ‘To the poor who can’t afford to take their kids out of public school, tough luck,’” he said. The package of education reforms includes a bill that ends income thresholds for Wisconsin’s parental school choice program, opening up private and charter school vouchers to every Wisconsin student, regardless of family income.
Snodgrass’ vehement defense of the state’s faltering public education system should come as no surprise. The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) is one of her biggest donors, contributing at least $7,500 over her two campaigns for a legislative seat, according to campaign finance reports.
Among the bills Republicans are trying to move through this session is a measure creating a Parental Bill of Rights. Sponsors say it’s aimed at empowering and protecting the rights of Wisconsin parents to choose how their children are raised and educated. In short, the bill of rights supports “parents who want to ‘have a say’ in their child’s education.”
Snodgrass’ moment of political candor reminds Republicans of state Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley’s assessment of her constituents who vote against referenda for expanded government services.
“So, if the voters turned it down, doesn’t it mean they don’t support what you’re advocating for?” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) asked Bewley at the Wisconsin Counties Association Roundtable in March.
“No, it means they’re not smart,” Bewley (D-Mason) sharply answered.
“It just underscores the liberal elitism present in our society, certainly here in Wisconsin, that thinks government knows best,” Roth said. “And if you don’t agree with their point of view then you’re an idiot. If anyone goes against the narrative that public schools know best, they’re going to come after you.”