Scottsdale school libraries now include right-wing Tuttle Twins books | Phoenix New Times

How $4,000 of right-wing kids books landed in Scottsdale schools

Tuttle Twins books, which push libertarian and anti-woke messages on kids, now sit in the libraries of 29 Scottsdale schools.
An illustration on the website of the Tuttle Twins books, which push right-wing and libertarian ideologies and compare social safety net programs to theft.
An illustration on the website of the Tuttle Twins books, which push right-wing and libertarian ideologies and compare social safety net programs to theft.
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A book for elementary school students calls social safety net programs a form of government control. Another “shows how things begin falling apart when socialism creeps in.” And one for middle and high schoolers about “true conspiracies” includes a chapter about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

They’re the Tuttle Twins books, a series of illustrated tales that purports to help “freedom-loving parents” who “have been at the mercy of professional curriculum developers” by teaching right-wing, free-market principles to school children. Written by Connor Boyack, the president of the libertarian think tank the Libertas Institute, they’ve been called the “conservative answer to ‘Sesame Street.’”

“Libertarian Cartoons Promise to Turn Your Kids Into Little Ayn Rands,” blared the headline of a 2022 Bloomberg article.

Now, Tuttle Twins books can be found in the libraries of the Scottsdale Unified School District.

At its April 9 meeting, records show, the SUSD Governing Board approved a donation of $4,000 worth of books, most from the Tuttle Twins series, which were then set to be distributed among the district’s 29 school libraries. The books were donated by Jill Dunican, a representative of the organization Scottsdale Unites for Educational Integrity.

The organization’s self-described mission is to “foster an environment where all students can receive a world-class education, free from indoctrination.” In reality, much of its website appears dedicated to waging anti-woke culture wars.

The site has sections devoted to pearl-clutching about social emotional learning, critical race theory — which is taught at the graduate school level and not in high schools — and the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion. One page warns parents about a host of elementary school library books that deal with gender identity, including one titled “It Feels Good To Be Yourself.” And another page warns about school clubs such as the Gender Sexuality Alliance and No Place For Hate.

“While this club promotes some ideas that most can agree are valuable,” the site says of No Place For Hate, “look deeper and you'll find that this is yet another social justice club that seeks to train student activists to fight for radical leftist causes aimed to dismantle the education system and society.”

click to enlarge A cartoon man holds "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat
An image in "The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law." In the book, a character gives the twins "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat and says people on government assistance "want to take instead of give."
Screenshot via Scribd

What’s in the books?

Under the same guise of patriotism used by SUEI, the Tuttle Twins books — which also have been made into a children’s animated TV series — have similar aims. Though they’re described by conservative media outlets such as the Arizona Daily Independent as “positive” and “wholesome,” several of the books tell allegories that promote right-wing economic arguments.

Some books teach basic lessons on topics such as entrepreneurship and the division of labor. But others more explicitly espouse anti-government, libertarian ideals. “The Tuttle Twins Learn About The Law,” written for elementary school students, demonizes social safety net programs alongside cartoon drawings.

“Everyone wants to take instead of give. Some people stop working hard and begin looking to the government to take care of them instead,” the book reads. “When this happens, the government begins to control everything.” In “The Tuttle Twins and the Search for Atlas,” children are treated to a circus-set retelling of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”

The book “The Tuttle Twins Guide to True Conspiracies,” aimed at middle and high school readers, contains a chapter about Hunter Biden’s laptop amid chapters on actual conspiracies, such as the Tuskegee Experiment and COINTELPRO. The realities of the laptop controversy — which sprung up just before the 2020 election of Biden’s father, President Joe Biden — have not lived up to its Republican-generated hype, though it did play a role in Hunter Biden’s recent gun-related convictions.

Unsurprisingly, both the author and illustrator behind the Tuttle Twins books seem to be conspiracy-minded. Boyack, the series’ author, wrote a November 2023 op-ed about Biden’s laptop in which he conveyed his convictions that 51 former U.S. intelligence officials, including the acting CIA director, misled the public about it to sway the 2020 election. The actual evidence was less than compelling, per the Washington Post.

Last week, the series’ official Instagram account promoted “The Tuttle Twins Guide to Modern Villains” — featuring chapters on Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Kim Il-Sung and Robert Mugabe, among others — with a post about former National Institutes of Health director Anthony Fauci. In a recent essay on the series’ website, illustrator Elijah Stanfield claimed that the felony convictions of former President Donald Trump were “so blatantly orchestrated by elements in Washington, D.C., nobody can say otherwise and keep a straight face.”

“Meanwhile,” the post continued, “politicians in both parties are working overtime to bleed us and sell us out to globalist powers via climate change, social justice, pandemic responses, and their favorite — war.”

click to enlarge An illustration of people protesting
A Tuttle Twins book for parents suggests that to criticize wealth disparities is "to be jealous" of the rich and leads to socialism.
Subtle Ways Your Kids Are Taught to Embrace Socialism

A nationwide trend

Including the Tuttle Twins books in Scottsdale school libraries is the latest example of a nationwide swing to the right in public education.

Since the start of the pandemic, during which time school closures had an undeniably deleterious effect on learning, vocal groups of conservative parents have organized against supposed wokeness in classrooms. They’ve pulled books about race, sex and gender from school libraries and helped to elect anti-woke conservatives to public school roles — including Arizona Superintendent of Schools Tom Horne and Scottsdale school board members Amy Carney and Carine Werner.

If the three other members of the SUSD board had any concerns about placing the books in libraries, they haven’t said. Board members Zach Lindsay, Libby Hart-Wells and Julie Cieniawski each voted to accept the books as part of the board’s consent agenda at its April 9 meeting. Phoenix New Times reached out to all three for comment but did not receive a response.

According to the Arizona Daily Independent, a full set of Tuttle Twins books was donated to each school library. But if parents prefer to do the teaching themselves, there’s a Tuttle Twins book just for them. Titled “Subtle Ways Your Kids Are Taught to Embrace Socialism,” it offers a stirringly patriotic defense of the rapidly growing wealth divide in the United States.

“Rather than aspiring to be rich, young Americans are taught to view the wealthy as selfish oppressors,” it reads. “Teaching children to be jealous of others’ wealth encourages an openness to supporting policies that take from the ‘haves’ and give to the ‘have-nots’ — the essential foundation of socialist policies.”
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