Lois Kaneshiki Is A Right-Wing Political Operative Who Wants Pennsylvania Conservatives to ‘Take Back Our Schools’

The former and short-lived Moms for Liberty PA state director is still an anti-woke culture warrior on a crusade against public education.
Kaneshiki has joined Rod of Iron Ministries leader Pastor Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon's The King's Report. Screenshot from broadcast on January 5, 2018.

Groups like Moms For Liberty portray themselves as aw shucks amateurs, just Regular Folks who have become activated by outrageous behavior. But we can look at one example — the woman who was M4L’s Pennsylvania state director — to see how busy these folks have really been (and it hasn’t been baking cookies).

Lois Kaneshiki’s LinkedIn page is clear about her purpose. It’s laid out on it, short and sweet:

I am a freelance political operative. I do generalized political consulting and campaign management. I prefer Pennsylvania, but I am open to other opportunities to help fearless conservatives WIN.

At the Blair County Tea Party meeting in January of this year, she required no introduction. “You all know Lois,” the introducer said, before Kaneshiki spent an hour explaining what is bad about schools these days (“It’s all bad”). But it actually does seem likely that they did all know her, because Kaneshiki has been an active political operative for quite a while.

She has said it’s been a couple of decades, and it appears that she cut her education activist teeth, like so many on the right, on the issue of Common Core. In 2006, she created and hosted a public access TV show in Altoona called “Speak Out!” intended to “inform local residents about important topics of public policy, politics, and personal responsibility.”

In 2008, she began a decade on the GOP committee. She says she was a founding member of the Blair County Tea Party in 2009. By July of 2015, Kaneshiki was testifying in Harrisburg as a “stay at home mother” and school board candidate, and for her, Common Core, Keystone testing, the unions, and school choice were all tied together. She said:

I am not against testing. I am against a one-size-fits-all approach to testing and standards. I am also opposed to the pandering we have to labor unions that keeps us from implementing true reform measures in our school.

Whatever you do with testing: keep the test, change the test, delay the test, get rid of the test: It won’t matter because there is no functioning marketplace in K-12 education. Testing is NOT accountability. Only consumers can provide accountability. Until you establish elements of free-market reforms, you will continue the dismal failure of our public education system and destroy opportunity for thousands of students.

In September of 2016, Kaneshiki, who was by then the Blair County Republican chair, posed with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump, thanking him for the “exponential interest” in the election.

Kaneshiki had mastered some of Trump’s political style. In 2016 she found herself the subject of controversy as a member of the Hollidaysburg Area School Board. In September, when the Altoona Mirror reported that she had equated kindergarten teachers with babysitters, she took to Facebook to say

Altoona Mirror readers: Do NOT believe everything you read in the Mirror! The reporting is sub-par and distorting of the facts.

The Mirror responded by reporting the transcript of the official recording of the meeting in question:

My daughter didn’t go to formal kindergarten, and she taught herself to read. I know not all children would do that, but I think we are spending the money for baby-sitting. It’s an awful lot of money. There are a lot of ways to take care of child management without paying that full salary.

Challenged on her comments about kindergarten staffing decisions in a phone interview with WTAJ, she identified the Home School Legal Defense Association as the source for the data that informs her decisions as a school board director. It also emerged that she was a big fan of Ron Paul’s The School Revolution, in which Paul proposes defunding all public education. 

By October, she was the subject of calls for her resignation and an on-line petition. WTAJ asked her to go on camera, and she declined. A local college student reported being blocked by Kaneshiki on social media for attempting to discuss the issue. Kaneshiki did not resign.

As 2017 primary season approached, Kaneshiki was criticized for using her position as GOP chair to shape board races in the county, including the race she was in. She organized a political action committee (“Taxpayers Unite! Blair County”), which was certainly legitimate activity, but she also was accused of creating a GOP candidate survey that reflected her own beliefs and values, “to cull the selection of Republican candidates to those who may share her views.”

The state does not forbid someone to hold both board and party committee positions, but Hollidaysburg board member Jim Gregory told the Mirror that Kaneshiki’s holding of both positions “creates confusion about what’s important to Lois: kids and their education, or her political agenda.” 

Kaneshiki also spent $115 of her own money to mount a court challenge to two candidates supported by the teachers union. She told the Mirror, “Everything is biased towards labor unions, not toward the taxpayer and in some respects not toward students. I wanted to level the playing field.”

In 2018, she lost re-election to the county GOP committee in May; in October, she revived the Blair County Republican Women organization. In 2020, she lost her bid to return to the GOP committee, nosed out by Jim Foreman, the man who had replaced her as chair. The Mirror reported on the results:

Foreman ran on being “reasonable and responsible” — a collaborator who seeks to unify, the re-elected chairman said on Friday.

“Not to say that anyone else isn’t” reasonable and responsible, Foreman added.

Kaneshiki was already on her feet, launching in March her consulting business, Run To Win Consulting, LLC. It doesn’t have much of a footprint online – the last post on the business Facebook page is from October of 2020, and it doesn’t appear to have its own website, unless this page for “Lois Kaneshiki—Dedicated Pennsylvania Republican Consultant” is supposed to do that job. She claims to have aided some candidates in New Hampshire

Kaneshiki ramped up her education activism after the height of the pandemic disruptions. In a letter to the editor of the Morrison’s Cove Herald, celebrating National School Choice Week 2021, Kaneshiki complained that the “monopoly on public education has given us this unworkable model, where no one is really accountable, choice is limited, and innovation is stifled by a bureaucratic and administrative quagmire.”

By July of 2021, she was raising her voice to oppose Critical Race Theory in schools, now as a representative of No Left Turn In Education, a right wing group whose founder has declared that “black bigotry towards whites” is a “very real problem” and added: “White students who attend pre-dominantly black inner-city high schools fear for their lives daily, but no one marches in the streets declaring ‘White Lives Matter’, much less loot and vandalize their communities to bring attention to this issue.” 

The group’s Facebook page also posted a meme stating that sending children to public schools means “you handed them over to the enemy to be raised and indoctrinated in the ways of the state.” 

Said Kaneshiki of CRT, “Little children are being taught that just because they’re white that they’re a part of this oppressor class and they themselves carry this burden.” 

For No Left Turn In Education, Kaneshiki organized a rally on the Capitol steps protesting CRT that included representatives from FreedomWorks, an free market astroturf group with Tea Party roots, and Heritage Foundation, a right-wing free market think tank — two groups that have no interest in education beyond privatizing it.

Last year she was still digging at CRT and SEL panic, actually suing the Cumberland Valley School District under the Right To Know Law, seeking “all records, lesson plans and materials given by Battelle for Kids/Portrait of a Graduate to [District] teachers and staff.” The district had looked for such records, given her the draft materials of Portrait of a Graduate, and determined that there were no more records to give — at which point she filed the lawsuit. The court determined that there was no evidence that the district was “acting in bad faith” when it said they didn’t have what she was asking for and her appeal was denied.

In 2021, Kaneshiki had also founded the Take Back Our Schools PAC, which was looking for candidates to support in all of Cumberland County’s nine school districts “who will fight CRT/SEL [Social-Emotional Learning] in our schools.” Says their website:

Our mission is to take back our schools from the Woke education establishment and return education to its proper function of focusing on academic skills and knowledge that are required to support and sustain our Democratic Republic.

Woke education is dominated by critical race theory and shaping the attitudes, values and beliefs of children to achieve a new Godless global society, a loss of our national identity, individuality and freedom.

The PAC is playing the right-wing scary conspiracy Christian nationalist greatest hits. And those hits sold well. Ivey DeJesus reported for Pennlive how the PAC had fared in the runup to primary season: 

With one exception, all the candidates endorsed by Take Back our Schools won on Tuesday.

No doubt, money was a factor.

Going into the primary, the PAC had about $38,000; and spent just shy of $5,800, according to campaign finance records. The PAC, which appears to have started filing last year, garnered financial support from a slew of local right-wing donors, including Rep. Barb Gleim, R-Cumberland County, Harrisburg attorney Marc Scaringi and individuals associated with the national conservative education group Moms For Liberty, including Kelly Potteiger (herself a victorious candidate in her race), Kristi Spangler and Allison Shipp.

Their big donors this year included conservatives like Cumberland County Commissioner Gary Eichelberger.

“We are very happy that we were able to play some role in getting our schools where they should be,” Kaneshiki said. “We feel pretty vindicated.

Clearly she was ripe for Moms For Liberty, and in June of 2022, she signed on as the Pennsylvania State Director, a job she only held until February of this year. It was in that capacity that she was speaking to the Blair County Tea Party, explaining to them that part of the problem is that “education is more about shaping attitudes, values and beliefs than about academic excellence.”

In the video, she also warns about the hypersexualization of children, which, she explains goes back to Alfred Kinsey, who then influenced the UN to spread this evil business. She also explains that she has been listening for two years to James Lindsay.

James Lindsay is an influential voice in the anti-wokeness work and CRT panic. He has pushed the LGBTQ grooming conspiracy, the notion that progressives are trying to groom children to become LGBTQ, so that they’ll be more easy to molest. He has warned that CRT will lead to Black-on-white genocide. And he’s big on the theory that cultural Marxists are infiltrating our institutions in order to destroy Western Civilization. 

This is the guy that Kaneshiki thinks explains everything. Schools, she argues in her talk, are out to “destabilize” children and get them to trust schools as a way of taking them away from their parents, another step on the road to installing Marxism. “In order to install Marxism,” she says, “You need to take away God—which is done—and you need to break up families,” because then everyone will depend on the state. Data mining, she warns, is about figuring out how best to get the child onto the woke agenda, so they can be activists for the woke agenda. Teachers and administrators are already indoctrinated. 

Apparently, it will be just like Mao’s indoctrination centers. 

“Everyone is behind it except the people,” she says, accidentally indicating who she thinks are people, and who are not. “The entire education establishment is behind this. The federal government is pushing it. The military is behind it. The legal establishment is behind it.”

She’s upset. 

“You can’t give them an inch. Give them an inch and they will take your arm off.” She charges, “Everything America stands for is the enemy.” And she imagines a lot of things. Noting that “America the Beautiful” makes her tear up, she says, “You couldn’t—you wouldn’t find anybody singing that in public school today. The teachers would probably gag if they had to sing that song.”

You get the gist. She has notes, but she’s upset, and much of the hour is angry digression and rant about a version of reality that you might not recognize, but which Lois Kaneshiki and her audience see clearly and fear greatly.

Post-Moms for Liberty she does not appear to be slowing down. She’s on the letter page of PennLive railing against DEI. She’s cheering on book bans. She’s sending out surveys to spot the True Right candidates (Should children be allowed to choose their pronouns?), while declaring that schools should spend more time on the “horrors of Communism.” And she’s already planning a Stop Woke Victory Dinner for September.

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Picture of Peter Greene

Peter Greene

Peter Greene is a recently retired classroom secondary English teacher of 39 years. He lives and works in a small town in Northwest Pennsylvania, and blogs at Curmudgucation.

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