Mask mandates; transgender policies; critical race theory (CRT); diversity, inclusivity and equity trainings (DIE); and sexually explicit, profanity-laced books in school libraries and classrooms are just some of the concerns driving parents to the polls today to vote in school board races.
Other issues include unresponsive board members; declines in academic performance; board of education members showing contempt for parents; limits on free speech and parental involvement at board meetings; and inappropriate comprehensive sexual education.
Such matters have led to a high level of interest in school board elections and to a record number of recall efforts in districts across the country.
Ballotpedia, which tracks school board elections in 463 school districts, reports that this year there are 84 total recalls targeting 215 elected board of education members. The previous high, according to their records, was in 2010, when 91 members were targeted.
Here are just a few recent incidents in the news that illustrate those concerns:
- Parents in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit against school board members and school district lawyers for limiting free speech at board meetings. The suit quotes the district’s attorney who said speakers “don’t have First Amendment rights [at] public comment during a board meeting.”
- A mom in Loudoun County, Virginia, told school board members that she took her children out of public schools because her 6-year-old child came home and asked if she was “born evil” – because she’s white.
- In Tustin, California, parents are working to recall three board members, citing allegations such as “teaching critical race theory (CRT), advocating for explicit sex education, accepting campaign donations from the teacher’s union, a severe decline in student test scores, and promoting violence through social media accounts.”
While most recalls are done through the electoral process, Virginia takes a different route. There, after enough signatures are gathered from eligible voters, recall efforts go to the circuit court, which decides if the board member will be removed from office. Board members in Virginia facing recalls include six of 11 in Virginia Beach, three of 12 in Fairfax County and five of nine in Loudoun County. One board member in Loudoun County has already resigned, rather than face her court hearing.
Allegations in the Loudoun County recall include “implementation of critical race theory,” board members joining a private Facebook group and targeting parents, school administrators sending public statements about “silencing the opposition” and refusing “to honestly communicate with the public about its implementation of critical race theory.”
While some politicians and members of the media have suggested otherwise, parents have the ultimate right to direct the educational upbringing of their children. This flows from their natural, fundamental right to parent – to provide for the care, nurture, and moral and religious upbringing of their children. This foundational right has been recognized and affirmed by the Supreme Court.
While many parents are motivated by how public education affects their own children, what is taught in public schools affects all of us, as our neighbors’ children are also spending hours in school. Public schools are helping to raise the next generation of citizens – so all of us should be concerned about what they are being taught.
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