Erin Phillips began her journey as an advocate for kids and parents in 2014 when the Clark County Unified School District (CCSD) introduced a sex-education curriculum produced by SEICUS—Sex Ed for Social Change. (A quick overview of the all-female board and staff will helpfully inform the reader that they all use female pronouns).
As a mother of 5 children, Phillips was concerned that the curriculum was introducing sexual fantasy, masturbation, abortion, and other adult subjects to kindergartners. Instead of looking the other way as this “social engineering” was slated to take effect, she used her skills to build and organize a coalition of concerned parents, a parent union, who stopped the curriculum, more than once, in Nevada.
This coalition became Power2Parent (P2P) and the organization has grown beyond the borders of Nevada and is now operating in Florida, Maryland, Idaho, and Arizona. Phillips says she has seen a “big jump in engagement” since the pandemic-related school closures, and that she could add other states to their organization, but she needs to build the existing platform and resources in order to do so.
Resources that Phillips provides for concerned parents include a Parent Union of over 10,000 parents strong, a Parent Leadership Academy, candidate recruitment and training, and has distributed an endorsement slate for elections for the past 5 years.
The largest school district in the state is CCSD, and as The Globe has reported, the district is plagued with abject failure, violence, and political in-fighting.
When asked if the district could be reformed, Phillips replied:
“It is possible to reform CCSD, but not possible to do the same things and expect different results. It is going to require fundamental change by breaking up the school district into smaller districts. Currently, the district is simply too big to manage and it is so mismanaged. When the district fails, they get more money–they do not lose money. There is no accountability to the money given. 80% of tax-payer money never sees a classroom. Instead it goes to the district administration which is the second largest employer in the state. CCSD is not a child centered district. It employs adults. It is an adult centered model, until we change that. The funding has to follow the student and we need to compete for kids and to have schools compete.
The powers that be do not want to give up the power that they have but sooner or later there has to be accountability for the failing grades and fiscal mismanagement. The current system is simply not sustainable.
P2P was a part of a number of groups that helped pass transparency law that penalized state agencies that were not complying with open records requests. This put an extra layer of accountability on state agencies, but there is more work to be done.”
Defeating the prior sex-ed curriculum has not caused Phillips to relax as she points out that aspects of the curriculum is now adopted by the Department of Education and states that one of her biggest concerns, as of late, is student data mining by technology companies and Panorama’s social emotional learning curriculum and surveys (SEL) which focuses on equity, diversity and inclusion instead of the basics of writing, arithmetic, and science.
In the video below, Panorama summarizes their free survey:
Phillips continues the fight for parents and students through her recent filing of two ballot initiatives in order to fund students. One initiative is a change in the Nevada constitution, and the second is a statutory change that creates education savings accounts (ESA). ESA’s were available in Nevada until Senator Nicole Cannizzaro removed ESA’s as a “vindictive move based on the fact Republicans wouldn’t vote for the Sunset Tax. The Democratic majority passed it anyways without the 2/3 votes required. The next year, the Nevada Supreme Court found that the Democratic majority and the Governor violated the constitutional 2/3 requirement.”
As a result, Phillips is now facing is from a lawsuit filed by Harry Reid’s son, Rory Reid and the Rogers Foundation to stop her initiatives from appearing on the November ballot. However, Phillips expected this challenge, telling The Globe:
“We knew there would be a lawsuit because it has become such a partisan conversation. Direct democracy is our best bet. The Roger Foundation’s intention is to slow us down. They just challenged the judge. They sued the Secretary of State because the judge has a daughter who works for SOS. Two judges have been recused so now we have to have an appointed judge. This is a tactic used by them.
We anticipated challenges. The challengers know that the voters will vote for educational freedom. We have until June 15th to get signatures on the constitutional amendment and until June 23rd to gather signatures for the statutory. The cases are supposed to be expedited, but the lawyers will continue to delay because they can.
In the end, parents and the larger community want educational freedom. Polling shows that we have 60-40 to our favor, and in a state like Nevada, where a majority of voters are registered as independents, education is their number one issue.
P2P is a non-partisan organization. School choice is a non- partisan issue. The right to direct education for a child as a parent is a parental right. It’s a winning issue for a candidate. We lost suburban moms during the Trump era, but there are a lot of people in the middle due to rhetoric on both sides. The tide is changing across the country. States are passing legislation. The data shows that educational freedom helps all children. Kids who remained in public school–who don’t take advantage of program, that overall test scores increase. Our challengers accuse us of wanted to defund schools. This issue is opposite of defunding schools. Educational freedom and school choice works better for everyone involved, except for those who continue to manage the decline and make excuses for their failure.”