A Growing Force: Conservatives Aim to Shake Up Nation’s School Boards on Election DaySchool choice expansion offers new opportunities for teachers

By Ryan Mills via National Review

More than a decade ago, Rose’s daughter was home sick from her Frederick, Md., school, and she brought the book — Social Studies Alive! Our Community and Beyond — home with herRose paged through it and grew concerned. In her estimation, the book had a clear left-wing slant; it promoted global activism, talked up other countries while disparaging the United States, and led kids to support government-funded health care and child care.

After that 2018 defeat, Rose continued speaking out against what she saw as a continued leftward drift in public education — a drift that she believed included less attention on academics, more time incubating leftwing activism, and treating kids not as individuals but as members of collective identity groups. But she had no intention of ever running for office again, she said.

“I was at a Frederick County Conservative Club meeting talking about critical race theory, and someone in the audience said, ‘Cindy, please run again.’ And I’m like, ‘No,’” she recalled. But then, she said, she offered a challenge. “I said, ‘If you can find me three other like-minded people who are willing to go in there and turn over the tables and do what needs to be done to fix public education, then I will run.’ And God said, ‘Challenge accepted.’”

This year, Rose, 59, is taking another swing at a school-board seat, but this time she’s not alone. She is running as part of a slate of conservative candidates — the so-called Education Not Indoctrination slate — who are working together to move the board to the right. They are advocating for more parental involvement in district decisions, and a renewed focus on civics and the development of cognitive skills. They want to ban materials that promote revisionist history and divisive concepts like CRT and so-called “anti-racism.” They’ve also advocated for classroom cameras, parental opt-ins before children are exposed to controversial materials, and restoring the terms Christmas and Easter to the school calendar.

Three of the four conservatives advanced to Tuesday’s general election, where they are facing a slate of four candidates endorsed by the teachers’ union.

The Frederick County conservatives are part of the continued effort by right-leaning candidates across the country to have a greater voice on local school boards, and in some cases to win control of the boards, which are often run — even in generally conservative communities — by left-of-center members of the education establishment.

The movement has roots in the Covid-19 school closures and virtual-learning efforts, when parents got a behind-the-scenes look at what their kids were learning in schools. In the wake of racial-justice protests that erupted after George Floyd’s death in 2020, concerned parents found schools in the thrall of left-wing social-justice activists pushing divisive dogma. Parents grew frustrated with mask mandates and concerned about plummeting standardized test scores. They’ve also pushed back on school systems that have tried to keep kids’ gender transitions hidden from parents, and they’ve expressed concerns about  books with explicit content in school libraries and classrooms.

The movement is being aided by a growing network of conservative organizations, which have injected millions of dollars into local races to help counter liberal teachers’ union efforts. Groups like the 1776 Project and various chapters of Moms for Liberty have endorsed and aided conservative school-board candidates with the goal of helping them across the finish line. There are also some state-level groups like the Minnesota Parents Alliance that have formed to help candidates who do not toe the teachers’ union and Big Education line. In Texas, a political action committee affiliated with the Christian cell phone company Patriot Mobile has spent about $800,000 this election cycle to boost conservative school-board candidates in that state, and the Texas Republican Party announced last December that it would be investing more in local races to influence municipal and school-board elections.

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