MISSION, Kan. (AP) – Several high-profile school board candidates who fought COVID-19 restrictions and anti-racism classes lost their election candidacy on Tuesday, while the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia won after have made education a key element of his campaign.
The defeats in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Connecticut came as voters weighed in on dozens of races dominated by debates over masks, vaccines, race and history. Their choices will help decide not only local policies, but also whether the education battle will last and become a rallying issue for Republicans midway through 2022.
Conservatives have been strong advocates for the cause as they seek to move past the coronavirus pandemic and reframe the discussion of racial injustice in America as a rewrite of history.
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The policy-monitoring website Ballotpedia identified 76 school districts in 22 states where candidates took a stand on race in education or Critical Race Theory, which argues that racism is systemic in American institutions. The National School Boards Association says it’s not taught in public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, accused the right wing of orchestrating protests to “turn schools into battlefields”. She cited as an example Republican Glenn Youngkin, who won the governor’s race of Virginia after taking advantage of Conservatives’ frustrations with schools.
“Families exhausted by COVID and its effects on their children were at the center of a political storm meant to distract from our shared goals of creating good jobs and an economy that works for all,” Weingarten said.
But Tina Descovich, co-founder of Moms for Liberty, a Melbourne, Florida-based group whose 142 chapters in 35 states have fought vaccine and mask mandates, said parental power is fully displayed in the race. .
“We expect to see the same effects throughout the 2022 mid-term cycle,” Descovich said. “Parents are engaged and seek elected officials at all levels of government who respect their right to lead the education, education and care of their children.
Former Vice President Mike Pence also stepped in, taking a moment at a campaign rally in Ohio on Saturday to urge voters to support Conservative school board candidates. But Conservative-backed candidates for a dozen suburban Cleveland school boards were generally lagging behind, unofficial results show.
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In pockets across the country, other school board challenges have failed.
In Wisconsin, four members of the Mequon-Thiensville school board resisted a recall challenge that cost avowed opponents of critical race theory nearly $ 50,000.
In Minnesota, three Conservative candidates failed to secure a seat on Wayzata’s board of directors. They ran on a “Vote for three!” »Platform which denounces« nefarious ideologies like the CRT », political indoctrination and« controversial medical mandates ».
In Connecticut, a slate of five candidates opposed to critical race theory lost the education council race in the Guilford school system, where a racial calculation began years ago, first with an episode in which a college student wore a blackface to a home football game, followed by a heated debate over the elimination of his mascot, the Indians.
Parents for Guilford Students, who backed the losing candidates, posted on Facebook: “Our five Republican candidates lost the BOE election. But, according to the message, “those who have lost the most are the dear children of Guilford.”
In Colorado, early results showed anti-mask candidate Schumé Navarro lagging behind in her bid for a seat in the Cherry Creek School District. The mother-of-three went to court last month to obtain the right to attend a district candidate event without a face mask, arguing that she cannot wear one due to the abuse she suffered in his childhood.
“The environment and the culture it creates only steals our children,” she said of the masks.
However, the fight against diversity education resonated in the Carroll Independent School District school board race in Southlake, Texas, where Andrew Yeager won on Tuesday night. It has been backed by a political action committee that opposes a diversity and equality plan created after a video of students chanting a racial insult began circulating online three years ago. A temporary restraining order blocked the plan.
1776 Action, a group inspired by former President Donald Trump’s now dissolved 1776 Commission that downplayed America’s role in slavery, urged candidates to sign a pledge calling for the restoration of a “Honest and patriotic education”. At least 300 candidates and elected officials have done so, said Adam Waldeck, chairman of the group.
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Waldeck said his group also sent targeted letters and texts during races in Johnston, Iowa, where three candidates signed the pledge, and in West Chester, Pa., Where law enforcement has been called in to. investigate threats against School Board President Chris McCune.
The backlash stems from his ordering the withdrawal from a July meeting of a parent who continued to demand information on critical breed theory after his two-minute deadline expired. McCune, who is set to retain his seat, wrote in a letter to the Daily Local News in Pennsylvania that it was his duty to “keep order” and insisted the district not even teach. not critical race theory.
“National and local political forces continue to urge residents to rally against local school boards and the CRT, even when board members and administrators offered to meet to share the district’s agenda to demonstrate that this just isn’t what we teach, ”McCune said.
In Iowa, hiding opponent Sarah Barthole won the Ankeny school board election in the Des Moines suburb after being endorsed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Barthole worked with Reynolds last year to reopen schools and is credited with inspiring the now blocked state law banning mask warrants in schools.
Laura Zorc, who heads the education initiative of Washington, DC-based conservative group Freedom Works, said she was encouraged by representation in Douglas County, Colo., Where a Conservative slate of four candidates appeared ready. to overthrow the incumbents. The board has come under fire for suing the county health department to uphold the district’s mask mandate.
“School runs, for too long, have been neglected,” Zorc said, adding that the pandemic had changed everything. “It’s really attracted a lot of attention to these races, and that’s why I think we’re seeing the sweep we have.”
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