By Stephanie Malench
At its November 18, 2021 meeting the Illinois Association of School Boards Board of Directors voted to end the Association’s membership in the National School Boards Association (NSBA). IASB membership in NSBA will terminate effective immediately.
The letter comes on the heels of a request by Illinois Congressional members led by Representative Mary Miller (R-15th District) urging the IASB to withdraw from the national organization after a letter was written by the NSBA to President Biden, “which compared protesting parents to domestic terrorists, the U.S. Justice Department and Merrick Garland instructed the FBI to monitor and investigate parents allegedly making threats at local school board meetings over COVID-19 restrictions and curriculum that includes critical race theory”.
This decision follows repeated attempts by representatives of IASB and other state associations to bring about changes in governance, transparency, and financial oversight necessary to ensure the viability of the national organization and IASB’s membership in it.
The IASB Board previously suspended membership in NSBA — an action that was slated to take effect with the 2022 calendar year. This decision was made to allow time for a final effort to effect the needed changes by the national organization.
Despite these efforts it became clear over the past 45 days that IASB’s continued membership in NSBA is no longer tenable. Twelve state associations have terminated membership and more are likely to follow. NSBA’s financial situation leaves open the question of whether the organization will survive this exodus of members. In addition, the NSBA’s September 29 letter to President Biden and the resulting fallout has placed it in a difficult position in terms of future federal advocacy in support of the state associations that comprise its membership.
The decision to withdraw from NSBA was not made lightly. State associations rely on a healthy national organization to provide training, federal advocacy, shared resources, and networking opportunities. While IASB no longer believes that NSBA can fill this role, we are committed to collaborating with other state associations to ensure that these services and opportunities remain available to our membership.
Illinois State Senator Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) did not reply to inquiries for a comment by press time.