Parents Group Sounds Alarm over Attorney General Garland’s Ties to Pro-CRT Consultancy

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces the launch of the Justice Department’s five cross-jurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces at the ATF in Washington, D.C., July 22, 2021. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via Reuters)

A parents group is questioning Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to open an investigation into purported threats and acts of violence against school boards across the U.S. after the group discovered that the attorney general’s son-in-law is the co-founder of an education company that uses critical race theory in its work. 

Earlier this week, Garland directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to investigate alleged threats being made against school board officials by parents who have spoken out against the use of critical race theory and other racially-charged teachings in the classroom, among other issues. Garland’s direction came after a the National School Boards Association wrote to the Biden administration that parents were engaging in “domestic terrorism.”

Asra Nomani, vice president of investigations and strategy at Parents Defending Education, wrote in a tweet Tuesday that the attorney general “has declared a war on parents.” 

“His daughter is married to the cofounder of @PanoramaEd which is under fire for its multimillion contracts with school boards,” she added. “At @DefendingEd, parents sent us tips. We raised the alarm. Now Garland is trying to silence parents.”

She wrote on the PDE website that Panorama Education, a company that collects social and emotional data from students in grades K to 12 and was co-founded by Garland’s son-in-law, “will profit from Garland’s outrageous silencing of parents who are challenging its data mining of K-12 students.” 

On Wednesday, Nomani called for “hearings and an ethics investigation” when she shared that Fairfax County Public Schools had increased its existing contract with Panorama Education to $2.4 million earlier this month.

The contract is for Panorama, which was co-founded by Xan Tanner, the husband of Garland’s daughter Rebecca, to conduct social and emotional learning (SEL) monitoring in FCPS, which will produce data on students. Panorama’s SEL work includes race-focused surveys and trainings on systemic oppression, white supremacy, unconscious bias and intersectionality, according to the Washington Examiner.

Panorama will screen “all” Fairfax children and conduct psychometric evaluations and create psychological profiles. PDE notes that the company is “well-known for harvesting and monetizing data.”

The data mining of students has drawn outcry from parents who are concerned that the company is funded in part by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Nomani said it’s “outrageous” that Fairfax County Public Schools is “collaborating with a for-profit company funded by Mark Zuckerberg.”

“In 2012, Zuckerberg admitted to performing ’emotional manipulation’ studies on Facebook users without their consent or knowledge. His involvement today with surveys examining students’ mental health is beyond the pale. Schools must stop trying to manipulate students and focus instead on educating students,” she told Fox News.

A spokesperson for Panorama told the New York Post that it “only uses student data for the purpose of helping schools and districts better serve their students.” 

The company is not affiliated with Facebook, nor is it affiliated with “any particular academic philosophy, including critical race theory,” the spokesperson added.

“The only relationship between Panorama Education and Attorney General Merrick Garland is that Panorama’s co-founder Xan Tanner is AG Garland’s son-in-law,” the spokesperson said.

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