Garland has been under fire this past week for his Oct. 4 memo in which he tasked the FBI with examining an alleged current spike in violence against school staff amid backlash to CRT being injected into school curricula, though Garland’s memo did not specify what those acts were.
Amid objections from parents and politicians over the intentions behind the order, many are questioning whether Garland has a conflict of interest due to his son-in-law’s company.
Panorama Education, co-founded by Xan Tanner, sells polls to school districts nationwide, focusing on “social and emotional climate,” due to a report by Forbes.
With contracts in over 50 of the 100 largest school districts in the U.S., Panorama Education alleges supporting “13 million students in 23,000 schools and 1,500 districts across 50 states.”
According to OpenTheBooks, a government expenditure library, the company has been hired by school districts in California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming for surveys or training.
The surveys reportedly justify new curricula in schools that parents have recently taken issue with, like critical race theory.
One survey, distributed by Arlington Public Schools in Virginia, revealed students have been asked questions such as “how clearly do you see your culture and history reflected in your school?” and “how often do you feel that you are treated poorly by other students because of your race, ethnicity, gender, family’s income, religion, disability, or sexual orientation?”
Panorama Education’s contract with APS was settled in 2017 and was for three school-wide surveys across a five-year period. According to Forbes, the contract cost taxpayers $288,270.
Since 2017, the company has raised about $76 million from investors and only last month, Panorama Education struck a $60 million private financing raise with General Atlantic.
Various states have paid the company millions of dollars. For example, in California, the El Dorado County Office of Education paid Panorama Education $1.4 million last year in part to “reduce the achievement gap by ensuring that all systems are culturally, linguistically, and equitably responsive to the needs of our students.”
In an Oct. 8 letter, several Republican lawmakers wrote to Garland expressing concern over “reporting about an alleged connection between your family members and controversial curricula that will directly benefit from this memorandum and the chilling of speech.”