Back to school stories this year will focus, naturally, on the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on students and families and on remedying these difficulties.
But another story is being shortchanged: it’s about how parents sought new options for their children like homeschooling, small learning pods, and micro-schools, with civic entrepreneurs and their partners creating new organizations or expanding existing ones to meet this demand.
School board recall efforts are sweeping the country, with many driven by parents claiming Critical Race Theory (CRT) is infecting schools, demanding schools reopen in person, and arguing that boards are consumed by virtue signaling.
According to Ballotpedia, 58 such efforts against 144 board members have taken place in 2021. Those are both all-time highs since it started tracking school board recall efforts in 2006, and far above the next highest year, 2010.
Only one school board member has been removed in 2021, however, while three resigned and seven were retained in elections. One is scheduled for a November recall vote in Kansas for upholding a mask mandate.
If there is a public policy silver lining to this past year, it is the increased support for school choice. Most public schools went online during lockdowns and parents, dissatisfied with the results, sought out other solutions, including private schools, pods, charter schools, online learning, and homeschooling. The last more than doubled with 11.1 percent of households homeschooling, up from 5.4 percent the year before.
Many state legislatures improved school choice options in their states. This is to be celebrated and continued.
School choice by itself, however, will not save students from a failing education if charter and private schools adopt the same curriculum and practices as the most woke schools. Without a focus on the right subjects and lessons, students will be unprepared for personal or professional success.
Over the last few months, the U.S. has engaged in intense discussion over “critical race theory.” As Americans have debated the impact of CRT, several states have banned CRT from the public school curriculum, while other states are using it as part of that curriculum. The debate over CRT’s merits or dangers has prompted ideological battles in school board elections. This article looks at the increased activism around school board elections and its broader ramifications.
Past politicization of school board elections
Though school board elections may not seem as exciting as a presidential or even congressional race, they have taken on greater importance in recent years. In 2005, the city of Dover, Pennsylvania faced a contentious court case known as Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, which ruled that the school district’s teaching of intelligent design violated the separation of church and state. Shortly after the trial concluded, the district held its school board elections, and all the school board members who favored the teaching of intelligent design lost their reelection bids, at least in part due to their position on the issue. The election generated much discussion.
In the early 2010s, school board races saw partisan involvement through the Tea Party movement. Generally, candidates affiliated with the Tea Party ran on platforms of greater political accountability and lower property taxes. Carl Paladino, a former Republican nominee for governor in New York, won a race for the Buffalo school board on a Tea Party-type platform. The school board later ousted Paladino for making offensive comments about former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Critical Race Theory continues to permeate our classrooms and infect our children’s minds with outrageous ideas about their nation’s history. But a growing number of Americans are standing up to fight back against its false tenets and demand its removal from K-12 education. At the forefront of this patriotic effort is 1776 Action, an advocacy group committed to the vital work of restoring honest and unifying education in public schools throughout the nation.
The group’s Candidate Pledge has garnered national attention in recent weeks for its emphasis on America’s values and its vow to eradicate divisive race- and gender-based ideologies such as CRT from America’s schools. Political candidates who sign the pledge commit to restoring “honest, patriotic education that cultivates in our children a profound love for our country” and to promoting a curriculum that “teaches that all children are created equal, have equal moral value under God, our Constitution, and the law, and are members of a national community united by our founding principles.” The pledge also seeks to prohibit any curriculum that divides students by race and sex – or sets out to infuse harmful ideologies into course material.
In May, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) became the first candidate to sign the pledge, declaring that CRT and similarly divisive theories are “shameful [and] must be stopped.” Other high-profile conservatives running for office, such as Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin, also vowed to replace CRT with “a high-quality civics curriculum.” The two Republican candidates for Governor of Kansas, former Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer and Kansas Atty. Gen. Derek Schmidt, have also signed the pledge. As more candidates sign this pledge, it will put pressure on teachers, principals, and school boards to declare their stances on CRT and other key educational matters. It will also hold them accountable for the materials they teach and ensure our children are not indoctrinated with malicious theories that seek to denigrate our country and reduce students to their sex or skin color.
The Biden administration signaled its support for the teaching of “anti-racism” curriculum in public schools Friday, wading into an ongoing culture war over critical race theory playing out on cable news and in school board meetings across the nation.
Asked about a recent decision by the National Education Association to throw its weight behind controversial progressive teachings about race, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told RealClearPolitics that President Biden believes “kids should learn about our history” including the view that “there is systemic racism that is still impacting society today.”
Psaki continued that the president and the First Lady, who is also a life-long educator, believe that “there are many dark moments, and there is not just slavery and racism in our history.”
Utah is one of many states in America considering banning critical race theory in public schools.
Republican State Representative Steve Christiansen sponsored a bill that takes direct aim at critical race theory concepts being taught in public education. The bill passed the Utah House and is awaiting the signature of the Speaker to move onto the state Senate.
That bill, HR901, calls on the Utah Board of Education for a re-evaluation of guidelines to weed out critical race theory in publicly funded classrooms.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez urged illegal immigrants who are parents to children born in the U.S. to register for President Joe Biden’s child care tax credit payments on Thursday, video shows.
Parents and guardians will receive checks of $250 to $300 per child monthly until the end of 2021 including undocumented adults who care for children with valid Social Security numbers, according to Ocasio-Cortez.
“These centers are also offering help to undocumented folks with eligible children,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So any child with a social security number is eligible. Do not count yourself out … if a parent and guardian is undocumented.”
A parent-led rebellion against Critical Race Theory is storming school boards across the country and demanding accountability for what is being taught to American children.
At least 165 local and national groups have formed to combat Critical Race Theory (CRT) instruction in schools across the U.S., an NBC analysis found. Many of these groups were founded by parents appalled to discover what was being taught to their children. Their advocacy has launched small town CRT debates onto the national stage, spurring far-left activists and establishment media outlets to accuse conservatives of ignorance and in some cases, racism.
“Parents are right to revolt against critical race theory in the classroom,” senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and anti-CRT writer Christopher Rufo told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Children are not inherently ‘oppressors’ and should not be implicated for historical crimes on the basis of their race. That’s the kind of propaganda that belongs in a Soviet history museum—not American K-12 classrooms.”
An American educator is persuading schools to implement viewpoint diversity in the classroom.
Erin McLaughlin is a teacher from Pennsylvania who is making headlines with her approach to classroom instruction. She argues that viewpoint diversity, which is teaching students how to think rather than what to think, should be at the center of many curriculums.
McLaughlin, in an interview with The College Fix, said that it is the job of educators to teach children how to process things as opposed to what to advocate for.
With widespread school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the debate over school choice has once again taken center stage.
For the past seven years, approximately two-thirds of Americans have consistently supported school choice. Additionally, support is largely bipartisan, with 82 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Independents, and 55 percent of Democrats in favor of school choice.
The positive impact of access to quality education is clear. As President Donald Trump said during his State of the Union Address on February 4, 2020, “The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”
After states shut down schools and forced families into virtual learning, parents and families found new ways to provide K-12 education to their children. While doing so, support for school choice options soared, a new poll from Real Clear Opinion Research found.
Among those surveyed, 71% said they support school choice, which is defined as giving parents the option to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school that best serves their needs. Across all racial and ethnic demographics, an overwhelming majority expressed support for school choice: Blacks (66%), Hispanic (68%), and Asian (66 percent).
These results “were the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters,” the survey states.