Local politics is a topic that rarely receives the level of attention it deserves. But the battle over the nation’s classrooms might change that. The debate over material being presented to K-12 students continues in earnest and there appears to be no end in sight. After parents discovered that their children’s schools were promoting far-leftist ideas on race, gender identity, and sexuality in the curriculum, it sparked a national backlash.
People showed up to school board meetings en masse to protest what they viewed as attempts to indoctrinate their kids into progressive ideology. If there is one silver lining to this issue, it is that America appears to be rediscovering the importance of politics at the state and local level.
The War Over Education
A school district in Pennsylvania on Tuesday voted to disregard a state law against teaching elements related to critical race theory (CRT) in classrooms. Specifically, it disallows teachers from putting forth the idea that people of a specific race are inherently superior to others.
Fox News reported, “The Pittsburgh School District passed a resolution which said it would defy ‘harmful legislation,’ such as the Republican-backed bill called HB 1532.” Board member Devon Taliaferro lashed out against “radical politicians” and argued that students “deserve leaders who will stand up for their rights.” She claimed those opposing critical race theory are only attempting to censor curricula and whitewash America’s history.
If HB 1532 becomes law, it would prohibit the teaching of “racist and sexist concepts” in K-12 schools and is “aimed at curtailing the divisive nature of concepts more commonly known as ‘critical race theory.’” A description of the proposed legislation notes that “[c]ritical race theory further divides us by making the immutable traits of race and gender a prime factor in how we view others – exactly the opposite of Dr. King’s dream.” The description continues:
“Our legislation makes it clear that no Pennsylvania school district, public postsecondary institution, or state or local government entity shall teach that any race or sex is superior to another, that any individual based on their race or sex is inherently racist or sexist, or that any individual should receive favorable treatment or be discriminated against based on their race or sex.”
On the other side, those opposing the bill contend that it will prevent educators from teaching history correctly.
“[students] deserve to accurately learn about our history, read books that represent their heritage and culture, and discover who they are and how they identify,” one of the board members argued.
A press release explained that the school district “formally opposes and rejects any legislation that suppresses classroom discussion, promotes fear, intolerance, and hate, and devalues staff, students and families of color, and LGBTQ+ students, staff, and families.”
Pennsylvania’s proposal mirrors that of legislation being passed in states like Florida, Texas, and others to push back on leftist attempts to promote progressive ideology in schools. But teachers in these states have developed methods to find loopholes in these laws that allow them to continue injecting CRT into the curriculum by simply changing up the nomenclature, which is why it must be addressed from officials who are closer to ground level.
Is Local Politics the Answer?
One of the outcomes of the midterm elections that did not get much attention is the fact that conservative candidates for school boards won their races. In some cases, they managed to flip these entities from progressive to conservative. This was especially true in states like Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis personally endorsed several people seeking to oust left-leaning board members.
Of the 30 candidates DeSantis endorsed, 25 defeated their opponents. Some of the Sunshine State’s boards flipped from left to right. This shift has also taken place in Texas and other red states.
Moms for Liberty, a parental rights advocacy group, endorsed over 500 school board candidates across the nation, and nearly 49% of them won their races. In South Carolina, this trend is already having an impact, as NBC News reported:
“On Tuesday evening, the Berkeley County School District in South Carolina swore in the board members who were elected last week, six of whom were endorsed by the conservative activist group Moms for Liberty.
Within two hours, the school board had voted to fire the district’s first Black superintendent, terminate the district’s lawyer, ban critical race theory and set up a committee to decide whether certain books and materials should be banned from schools.”
Now that the midterms are over, it would not be surprising to see more stories like this popping up in various states in which conservatives managed to take hold of school boards where they can affect change. In the end, those who will have the most influence over what is being taught in schools will be doing so at the local level, which is why those who oppose progressive ideology in the classroom would perhaps be better served by focusing more locally than statewide.
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