We believe our children’s education should be based on scholarship and facts, and should nurture their development into the happy, resilient, free-thinking, educated citizens every democracy needs. Our classrooms should include rigorous instruction in history, civics, literature, math, the sciences, and the ideas and values that enrich our country.
Yet in recent years activists have targeted public, private, and charter schools across the country with a campaign to impose ideologically driven curriculum with a concerning and often divisive emphasis on students’ group identities: race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender. Many school districts and private schools have spent large sums of money on these efforts and many more are preparing to do the same.
This new educational mission is not only at war with basic American values, but also with childhood. Couched in vague slogans about “social justice,” the new curriculum divides our children into “oppressor” and “oppressed” groups. To one, it teaches guilt and shame. To the other, grievance and resentment. More broadly, throughout the school, it sows distrust, unhappiness, confusion, and fear.
Schools are adopting this illiberal mission at the behest of a narrow group of activists, union leaders and high-priced consultants— without the consent of the students, parents, and communities whose interests the schools are supposed to serve. Those who dissent risk being called ugly names and shamed into silence.
This must stop. If you are disturbed by these destructive practices in our schools, you are not alone. If you want our schools to return to teaching our children all that they need to become the best version of themselves, please join us. We come from diverse races, religions, economic backgrounds, and political orientations — but we all agree that it is time to join together and stop this madness in our schools.
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Nicole Neily is the president & founder of Parents Defending Education. She is also the founder of Speech First, a national campus free speech organization, and has worked at the Independent Women’s Forum and the Cato Institute.
Caroline Moore is the Vice President of Parents Defending Education. She has worked for several non-profits including the Federalist Society and the Mercatus Center. Additionally, she has worked for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the White House, and the Republican Attorneys General Association. She has a master’s in Regulatory Policy from Northwestern University.
Director of Outreach
Erika Sanzi is the Director of Outreach at Parents Defending Education. She spent the past five years writing about K12 education, with a focus on parent choice, student outcomes, and the boy crisis. She is a former educator and elected school board member and currently serves on the board of advisors for The Boys Initiative. She is also the mother of three teenage sons.
Director of Advocacy
Marissa Fallon is the Director of Advocacy for Parents Defending Education where she assists parents and parent groups to advocate for their students. She is a founding member of Coalition for TJ, a group of parents and community members in Northern Virginia and has had leadership roles in her Parent Teacher Association. She has over two decades experience as a business owner and researcher. She is the mother of two sons and has experience in both public and private schools.
Director of Community Engagement
Mailyn Salabarria is the Director of Community Engagement at Parents Defending Education, where she works with media relations and public speaking in English and Spanish, and assists with parent advocacy and training in the Western States area. Mailyn was born in Cuba and has lived in the United States since 2001. She has a Law Degree from Havana University and a MS Mass Communication and Journalism from Florida International University. She has worked as a professional interpreter and translator, has been a small business owner and is a graduate from the Leadership Program of the Rockies. Mailyn is a passionate advocate for parental and individual rights, her motto is freedom versus force, and she is the mom of two children, made in the USA with Cuban parts.
Director of Operations
Rachel is the Director of Operations at Parents Defending Education. She has worked for the Institute for Justice and the Leadership Institute. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Rachel spent time working in the education system.
Michele Exner is a Senior Advisor at Parents Defending Education. Prior to joining PDE, she spent nearly 15 years managing press and communications at various levels of government and the private sector, including at the Office of the Speaker of the House, the U.S. Senate, CBS News and various Department of Defense organizations. Michele began her career serving as an active-duty Marine officer, including two overseas deployments to Iraq and Africa. She received her undergraduate degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and has a master's in Leadership, Education, and Development from the University of Maryland. She is the mother to a son and daughter who currently attend elementary school.
Major Gifts Officer
Andrew Kozusko is a Major Gifts Officer for Parents Defending Education. He has been working in development since 2018 after graduating from LaGrange College with his Masters in Philanthropy and Development. He is originally from Latrobe, PA but currently lives in Tempe, AZ where he enjoys golfing year round.
Public School Advocate Associate
Scarlen is the Public School Advocate Associate for Parents Defending Education where she assists and equips parents with resources to successfully advocate for their students. Scarlen is an active member of her local PTA and other parent groups that believe in public school student advocacy. She holds a BA in business leadership and has a background in telecommunications and business ownership.
Alex Nester is an Investigative Fellow for Parents Defending Education. Before joining Parents Defending Education, Alex reported on education at the Washington Free Beacon and produced podcasts for Nebulous Media.
Digital Communications Specialist
Paul Runko is the Digital Communications Specialist for Parents Defending Education where he communicates with parents and parent groups through a wide range of digital channels, sharing resources, information, events and news. Paul has many years of experience in media as well as in education.
Casey Ryan is a Staff Writer for Parents Defending Education. He has several years of experience working for nonprofits and campaigns as a writer and researcher. He has written for several statewide and national candidates in recent elections.
Rhyen Staley is a Researcher for Parents Defending Education where he assists staff and parents in collecting, organizing, and correlating data. He has fifteen years of experience as a public and private school teacher ranging from grade six to freshman in college. He is also the father of two school aged children.
Corrinne Carlson is a Project Manager at Parents Defending Education. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in the Program of Liberal Studies. She comes from a community of educators and was a founding member of her high school, inspiring in her a passion for access to quality education.
Isabella Rossini is a Development Assistant at Parents Defending Education. Prior to joining PDE, she was a Regional Field Coordinator for the Leadership Institute, working with college students across the Midwest. Isabella graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas with her degree in Communications with an emphasis in Political Science.