Understanding School Moms with Laura Pappano

In this thought-provoking episode, Mike Palmer welcomes education journalist Laura Pappano to discuss her new book School Moms: Parent Activism, Partisan Politics and the Battle for Public Education. Laura shares her experiences attending Moms for Liberty summits, witnessing alarming rhetoric portraying public schools as indoctrination centers. She also touches on the work she is doing at the New Haven Student Journalism.

While marketed as a grassroots parent movement, we learn Moms for Liberty is well-funded by far-right groups aiming to shift the political balance of local school boards. Laura recounts the transformation from 2022 to 2023 summits, with protestors surrounding the latter event in Philadelphia amid heightened tensions.

The conversation highlights how extremist tactics like book bans and policies stripping educator authority threaten public education’s democratic foundations. We explore the concerning nationalization of these trends, with local school boards becoming partisan battlegrounds disconnected from community needs.

However, Laura reminds us public schools remain vital unifying spaces for children’s growth and identity development. While imperfect, the system provides an essential community fabric to nurture, not destroy. By coming together, valuing expertise, and rejecting disinformation, we can preserve quality public education. The stakes are high, but our potential for positive impact as engaged citizens remains.

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Episode References

Pappano, L. (2024). School Moms: Parent Activism, Partisan Politics, and the Battle for Public Education. Beacon Press.

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