Education Reform

Goodbye to Bad Education

The Hamilton Southeastern School District, which sits just north and to the west of Indianapolis, decided in early March they’d rather eat $80k on a contract for school surveys purported to elevate student voices “on school climate, teaching and learning” than continue working with Boston-based Panorama Education, most famous for being co-founded by the son-in-law of AG Merrick Garland.

The HSE school board – most of whom were not seated when the board voted to renew the contract in February of last year – reportedly had concerns about the surveys’ (used to quantify “social emotional learning”) privacy and “how the information was gathered, and whether information could be tied to individual students.”

That’s a not-insignificant concern when considering the surveys also reportedly asked about “diversity, equity and inclusion within the district” and were known to have been not quite truthful about promoting Critical Race Theory (CRT). We’ve all seen what happens to those who go against the current cultural trend toward leftist socio-political policy.

From Influence Watch:

Panorama Education claims that it does not promote critical race theory. However, media reports have identified Panorama content focused on race. The Daily Mail reported that Panorama ran a free online workshop entitled “SEL as Social Justice: Dismantling White Supremacy Within Systems and Self” that included an article entitled “How White Supremacy Lives in Our Schools” among its recommended resources for teachers. The essay identified rallies supporting President Donald Trump as being comparable as symbols of white supremacy to the Ku Klux Klan.

Panorama Education – where AG Garland’s (remember his crusade against parents at school board meetings?) son-in-law served as president and may still sit on the board – also has uncomfortable ties with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “Learning for Justice” project. As Capital Research Center Education Fellow Kali Fontanilla writes, “the [Learning for Justice] lessons being sent to teachers are full of leftist narratives and agendas…By taking advantage of the need for easy-to-use and readymade lessons that teachers crave and the willingness of districts to overlook the political messages in resources provided for free, SPLC has inserted its left-leaning narratives into the public school classroom through its sister site Learning for Justice.”

And apparently, some districts are using American Rescue Act Plan funds to pay for these questionably secure, almost certainly biased data sets.

“They’re basically putting a behavioral characteristic report card on these children every single day, every single week, and then putting it in a system that’s going to follow your child until 12th grade,” reported one parent, according to Parents Defending Education.

The education company had raised, as of 2021, $76M from some heavy-hitting investors, including The Emerson Collective – which boasts an assortment of former Obama and Hillary Clinton staffers – and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which likes to involve itself, very controversially, in U.S. elections.

Perhaps it’s not terribly surprising that the HSE school board members in Indiana who opposed continuing on with Panorama weren’t overly forthcoming in explaining their decision. As the Indy Star reported bluntly: “Board members who supported discontinuing Panorama did not explain their votes.”

With that kind of power and money behind an opponent, it’s best to just take a vote, eat the loss, and move forward quietly. There are, thankfully, still some places you can do that in the republic.


This article originally appeared in the Townhall on April 17, 2023.

Sarah Lee

Sarah Lee was born and raised in Atlanta, Ga., but found herself drawn to Washington, DC, the birthplace of her mother, after completing a master’s degree in public administration from…
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