New Hampshire State Rep. Tamara Le is a Democrat on the House Education Committee who has been a forceful advocate for public schools. She’s opposed voucher programs that funnel taxpayer money to private schools, including religious ones. She’s also an advocate for disability rights, which puts her at odds with private schools that don’t have to accept or accommodate any kids with special needs.
Her 8th grade daughter happens to be one of those kids. With the kind of accommodations afforded to her at her public school, she’s been extremely successful, earnings As and Bs so far. That’s why she’ll also be attending a public high school.
But that created a bit of awkwardness when the daughter’s friends recently began applying to private high schools. Le had to explain to her child why a public school was the only option for her, both out of principle and because of her unique needs.
Later, however, Le posted on Facebook a rant against private schools that freely discriminate against kids who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).
It’s that last line that Republicans seized on…
Let us all bask in the grotesque irony that the GOP regularly guts public education and praises Betsy DeVos, but they have the audacity to pretend a Democrat who said “fuck” is the real enemy of education. One hilariously ignorant critic even noted that Le supports Elizabeth Warren even though Warren “sent her own son to private school,” as if that’s some sort of “checkmate” moment.
The fact that Republicans could think that’s hypocrisy shows that they don’t even know what they’re whining about. Le’s criticism isn’t against the existence of private schools, nor is she trashing parents who send their kids there.
Was it a poor choice of words for a state representative? Perhaps. But it wasn’t a policy decision. It’s just a mother ranting against private schools that would never give her child the help she needs. It’s easy to understand why she might feel that way.
Still, after Republicans in the state signed a petition demanding the Speaker of the House, Democrat Steve Shurtleff, punish her, he did just that, suspending Le from the Education Committee for the time being.
Shurtleff said he was offended by Le’s comment and that a suspension was fitting.
Le, who is one of seven assistant majority floor leaders in the House, told Seacoast Online that she respects Shurtleff’s decision and that her Facebook post amounted to a “bad choice for words.”
As much as I don’t think she deserves a punishment, suspending her temporarily may be the easiest way for everyone to just move on from the matter. Even her colleague, State Rep. David Meuse, praised her work in the Portsmouth Herald:
Tamara Le’s passion, her sense of humor, her work ethic, her smarts, and her empathy for others should be what defines her — not an ill-considered social media post and faux outrage from alleged leaders with political axes to grind that would be too big even for Paul Bunyan to lift.
Le herself deleted the original post, but she has put up this one clarifying that she’s upset about how “92% of private and religious K-12 schools in NH have admission policies that DO NOT have anti-discrimination protections for students with disabilities.”
Le was first elected to the State House in 2016, winning a very close race. (She also ran in 2014, but lost by just a couple of points.) In 2018, she was comfortably re-elected.
(Thanks to @cs_451 for the link)