“We’ve got $500 for the person that first successfully catches a public school teacher breaking this law,” the group tweeted on Nov. 12. “Students, parents, teachers, school staff … We want to know! We will pledge anonymity if you want.”
But Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who ultimately signed the law, is not happy about the contest. On Thursday, he denounced Moms for Liberty’s incentive to report teachers.
“The Governor condemns the tweet referencing ‘bounties’ and any sort of financial incentive is wholly inappropriate and has no place,” Sununu’s spokesman said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Sununu signed the law, known as Right to Freedom from Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education, in late June as part of the state’s budget. It bans any lessons that involve a “divisive concept,” such as “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” and “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.”
New Hampshire is one of more than two dozen states that has passed or introduced legislation banning critical race theory, an academic framework that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism. Condemnation of the intellectual movement has become a rallying cry for Republicans, who insist that systemic racism does not exist and falsely claim that schools are trying to indoctrinate students by teaching them otherwise. (The Washington Post has reported that critical race theory, a college-level academic framework, is not taught at the K-12 level.)
Most of Sununu’s diversity council quit in protest when the governor signed the bill into law. In their resignation letter, the 10 members said the new restrictions harm efforts to advance “equity and inclusion in our state.”
“Governor, we feel obligated to inform you that — contrary to your recent public statements — systemic racism does in fact exist here in New Hampshire,” the former members said.
Sununu, in response, called the resignations “politically charged.”
On Nov. 10, New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut announced the new website where parents can easily report teachers. The complaints will be reviewed by the state Commission on Human Rights.
Carl Ladd, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, wrote that the website is turning schools into the “commissioner’s political punching bags.” Until changes are made, “educators will work under a cloud of uncertainty that they will be reported to the state, triggering a sham investigation, all without evidence or transparency,” he said.
Deb Howes, president of the state’s second-largest teachers union, called the new effort a “war on teachers,” the Register Citizen reported. The union and Ladd want the governor to remove Edelblut as commissioner.
Edelblut has since said the website should be used in “rare instances.”
“We know that here in New Hampshire, teachers do their best to treat everyone equally, and genuinely strive to communicate with both dignity and respect,” he said in a statement to the Register Citizen.
The New Hampshire chapter of Moms for Liberty’s tweet came two days after the website went live. There are at least 135 Moms for Liberty chapters in 35 states, with 56,000 members, The Post reported last month. The organization has become an outlet for conservative mothers who feel their voices are being ignored by school boards, teachers and public school administrators.
Moms for Liberty has protested mask mandates in schools and questioned whether certain books in libraries are inappropriate. The chapter in New Hampshire this week called school mask mandates “unconstitutional and ineffective.”
Rachel Goldsmith, who leads the chapter offering the $500 cash reward, defended the move this week, telling WJLA that even teachers want to report problems they see with school curriculums.
“The point of this is to incentivize folks to find problems in the system,” Goldsmith said.