Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Battle of the Culture War gets mixed success in the race for the school board

Mission, Cannes. (AP) — School board candidates protesting the mask mandate and lessons about racism in American history won red states and some politically divided districts, but often for school districts over the issue of the latest culture war Come short in your bid to shape the policy. .

Mixed results complicate the picture for Republicans moving to the fight for education As a burning issue that can help them attract voters. They point to an upset in Virginia by Republican Glenn Youngkin, who won his run for governor Tuesday in the liberal-leaning state after education complaints made a key part of his campaign.. Some conservative political action groups said he won the race for the school board, where he deposited the money.

But across the country, the fights for culture and identity were less decisive. Political tracking website Ballotpedia identified 96 school districts in more than a dozen states where race education and masking were part of the debate. It found that at least one anti-critical race theory or anti-mask candidate prevailed in 35 of the 86 districts in which it determined the winners, or 40%.

“Where they won, they won in really high numbers,” said Doug Kronizel, a staff writer for Ballotpedia, noting that the winning candidates at issue were concentrated in a single districts. “But overall nationwide they are so much more. Couldn’t win.”

In Connecticut, slate of five candidates running in opposition to critical race theory The Board of Education race was defeated in the Guilford school system, a heavily white New Haven suburb of 22,000 where a petition was filed for the superintendent’s removal after the district removed its Indians mascot and sought to address social justice and racism. doubled the efforts.

“I think there is a national discussion going on where the term critical race theory is not used incorrectly to attack the work being done in schools, and it has been successful in a lot of races,” said Superintendent Paul Freeman. Said Joe, who said the district doesn’t teach critical race theory.

Technically, it is an academic framework that focuses on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they serve to maintain the dominance of white people. But in recent months, it has become a catch-all political discussion for any teaching in schools about race and American history.

“We at Guilford do not shame or blame white children when we talk about issues of race or racism in our classrooms, whether historical or contemporary,” Freeman emphasized.

In Macon, Wisconsin, a wealthy, Republican-leaning suburb north of Milwaukee, members of the current school board won decisively after being called back by a group of parents Efforts based on opposition to the recruitment of the district’s diversity advisor. All four incumbents were re-elected by more than 1,000 votes after a summer-long petition campaign that attracted the attention of local Republicans.

In Springboro, Ohio, outside Dayton, Frank Catrin, a local Republican activist who opposes critical race theory, finished fifth out of eight candidates in a school board race in which all incumbents were re-elected. . He has argued that diversity and inclusion efforts exclude white students and parents.

“If you want true diversity, you’re open to everyone,” Katrin said. “But if they are focused only on black people and the LGBTQ community, then not everyone is welcome.”

In Washington state, school board candidate Riley Smith said that when knocking on doors in her Democratic-leaning district in Spokane this fall, she encountered very few people interested in discussing race in education.

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“This whole important race theory, the anti-masking that dominated the national narrative, wasn’t really on people’s minds,” said Riley, who defeated a vocal opponent of the educational structure for an open seat.

Yael Levine, who leads the Virginia chapter of No Left Turn in Education, a group that opposes teaching critical race theory, said some damage was to be expected given the movement’s newness, which he Said to be aggravated by the pandemic, when distance learning made parents more aware of what is being taught to their children. Since its inception last year, the organization has expanded to 78 chapters in over 25 states.

“It’s a very new parenting movement. And it’s a direct result of COVID. So it’s understandable that we succeeded in some places and not in others,” Levine said, “but we want to keep our movement going.” Going to keep alive because the attack on our kids is not going to stop anytime soon.

In conservative Wichita, Kansas, Ben Blankley was among three candidates who were thrown out of office and replaced by an anti-Semitic Race Theory candidate who promised changes to COVID-19 mitigation efforts in the district Was.

“I thought it would be the end result,” said Blankley, a 38-year-old aerospace engineer with a first-grader in the district. “Every decision we made, I thought would ultimately be a political backlash to a group of good people. And so it reinforced my resolve to make the best decision with the information we knew was going to be out of office for all of this.” There may be an incident because of it.”

Across the state, anti-mask mandates were ahead of several races on Friday in Johnson County, an increasingly purple Kansas City suburb that voted for Joe Biden for president in 2020 despite historically leaning Republicans. Some of the winning candidates in the Blue Valley and Olathe districts were promoted by the 1776 Project PAC.

Axios Reported Political Action Committee – named after former President Donald Trump’s now disbanded 1776 commission, which downplayed America’s role in slavery—succeeded in three-quarters of the 58 races in seven states. “Victory across the country and this is just the beginning” group tweeted.

Money from other conservative PACs flowed to West Chester, Pennsylvania, when board chairman Chris McCune protested critical race theory opponents. McCune, a Republican, was initially ahead in the vote count, but lagged behind a PAC-backed Critical Race Theory supporter and another candidate as mail-in ballots counted.

“These allegations are remotely challenging and the environment around public education has been very toxic,” said McCune, who works in software sales and whose five children attend all district schools.

The 1776 Action, which is separate from the similarly named Political Action Committee, sent mailers and targeted text messages to one West Chester race and another in Iowa. The group, which encourages candidates to sign a pledge for the reinstatement of “honest, patriotic education”, was encouraged by the results.

“This movement to defeat the anti-American ideology in our schools is only going to get stronger in 2022,” said group president Adam Waldeck.


Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writer Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, New York, contributed to this report.


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