The education company co-founded by Attorney General Merrick Garland’s son-in-law is facing fresh scrutiny after it was revealed the company supports critical race theory curricula while servicing 23,000 schools in the nation, costing tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars — while Garland cracks down on opposition to the ideology.
Garland has been under fire this past week for his Oct. 4 memo in which he tasked the FBI with investigating an alleged recent 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 criticism from parents and politicians over the intentions behind the order, some 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 surveys to school districts nationwide with a focus on “social and emotion climate,” according to a report by Forbes.
With contracts in more than 50 of the 100 largest school districts in the U.S., Panorama Education claims to be 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 give justification for new curricula in schools which parents have recently taken issue with, such as 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 over a five year period. According to Forbes, the contract cost taxpayers $288,270.
Since 2017, the company has raised around $76 million from investors and just last month, Panorama Education struck a $60 million private financing raise with General Atlantic.
The company has been paid millions of dollars by various states. 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.”
“Your daughter, Rebecca Garland, married Alexander (“Xan”) Newman Tanner in 2018.3 Mr. Tanner is a co-founder of Panorama Education (“Panorama”), a “social learning” provider that provides consultancy services that reportedly aids schools in teaching critical race theory under the guise of “equity and inclusion” to America’s children,” US Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote.
“On September 29, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to the Biden administration raising complaints about parents’ protests at school board meetings,” they added.
“Then, less than a week later, you issued the memorandum, which will benefit companies like Panorama, whose contracts may be in jeopardy as parents stand up to school boards and demand that their children not be indoctrinated with critical race theory.”
The senators pointed out the DOJ’s “Conflict of Interest Policy,” appearing to accuse Garland of breaking it while implying Tanner may directly benefit from last week’s memorandum.
Panorama Education has also come under criticism after reports revealed the company recommended teachers read a book featuring an essay written by Bill Ayers, a former designated domestic terror group leader, according to the Washington Examiner.
Last week, the company shared on social media 11 books that educators could read to “enhance your own social-emotional learning.”
Included on the list was “Teaching When the World is on Fire,” a 2019 collection of essays. The first essay in the collection is written by Ayers. The editor of the collection, Lisa Delpit, an education activist, called the essay a “masterful ode to teaching when the world is on fire.”
The essay puts a focus on race, telling teachers that the system they are joining “hates Black and Brown and poor kids.”
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.