Sunday, February 12, 2023

Why More Conservatives Are Running In School Board Elections

By William Haupt III [Tennessee Watchdog Journalist, Columnist, Author, and Citizen Legislator via The Center Square]

Image Credit: Public Domain

“Going to school is not the same as going shopping. Parents should not be burdened with locating a suitable school for their child.” – Diane Ravitch

Some of the most involved parents pay little attention to school board elections because they don’t know when they are held. It is common that these elections take place at times that differ from the general elections. This helps both teachers and their unions retain control of education curriculum.

UC Berkeley Political Scientist Sarah Anzia recently released a book examining the consequences of off-cycle elections in U.S. politics. She finds that 90% of states hold elections for municipal races apart from major national elections. Data obtained from the National School Boards Association shows that three quarters of the states hold school board elections off cycle to limit voter turnout.

By decreasing voter turnout, this enables unions to get increased pay and benefits for the teachers. It also allows them to adopt and implement policies, teaching methods and curriculum developed by the federal and state Departments of Education and the local liberal politicians.

“One penalty for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” – Plato

In states that run board elections concurrently with general elections, most races are decided in the primaries. Since the average turnout for primary elections is 27% of registered voters compared to 60% for general elections, this guarantees school board incumbents are almost always reelected.

Many politicians get their start as members of school boards. Therefore members of these local boards are eyeing opportunities in the county, municipal and state governments. Since most all board members are “union and Democrat friendly,” this is reflected in their politics in other offices.

“If you believe teachers unions don’t have political motives you’re fooling yourself.” – Lori Lightfoot

For well over 100 years, we’ve had “off-cycle” school board elections simply to conciliate teacher unions and the teachers. Until recently, this widespread and questionable practice of local school districts holding elections apart from general elections has been taking place across the nation.

A new report from the Government Accountability Institute shows the teachers unions have been working overtime since 2008 taking millions away from classrooms to finance political campaign activity. Most all of these donations have gone to Democratic candidates and to help fund other liberal organizations. And recent elections show this has been effective in electing progressives.

According to GAI, spending by the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) on political activities increased over $74 million since 2008 while spending for teachers increased by $5.3 million. The two teachers unions gave $91.8 million to Democrats.

Historically, conservatives have not been as vocal about down ballot races. Although Democrats and the unions still control many school districts, the Democratic-union stronghold on school district domination has been challenged in recent years. This is especially with the election of Joe Biden.

In the past few years as progressives have been forcing their far left policies on public education, these often-ignored school board elections are gaining much-needed attention from the GOP. Conservative groups have been stepping up to support anti-progressive candidates in local board elections as more concerned parents are showing up to attend their local school board meetings.

“People are fed up with status quo education and are looking for ways to improve it.” – Dale Lee

Conservative groups have taken notice that these elections mean more than just getting rid of the progressive curriculum. Their aim is to limit the control that Democrats and the unions have on the school systems. This includes the negative influence the progressive-teachers-union alliance has done infusing their political views with education, libraries, sports and liberal social engineering.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the new face of the Republican Party, helped two dozen conservative candidates win in the midterm elections. Speaking at an Orlando school board event, he said he plans to continue to influence school board races across the state. He says he intends to flip more local seats from progressive education officials, starting with Broward and Hillsborough counties.

DeSantis criticized “obnoxious” board members who went against the state and parents by passing mask mandates amid the Covid pandemic. “Far too long, these school boards have not reflected the values of the communities that they were elected to serve, and I plan on putting an end to that.”

DeSantis said, “Electing conservative school board members is not rocket science. We are just educating our voters about who shares our values and who doesn’t – that’s it. We are confident once they have that information; they are going to be able to make the right decisions for them.”

Democrats continue to call the GOP evil people who want to limit the teaching about LGBT sexual relationships, CRT and distorted American history. Yet concerned parents are spending millions on candidates who will limit negative race baiting and open sexuality and take offensive books out of libraries. They will also nix plans for gender-neutral bathrooms and transgender-inclusive sports.

The 1776 Project was formed last year to counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project that teaches U.S. history around slavery and its lasting impacts. The 1776 group was able to elect conservative majorities in dozens of school districts across the U.S. while promoting their “parents bill of rights.”

According to campaign finance filings, they netted victories in Texas and Pennsylvania, spending $2 million during the last campaign cycle. The 1776 group is campaigning for dozens of candidates already for the next election cycle. It’s supporting candidates in Maryland’s Frederick and Carroll counties, in Bentonville, Arkansas, and 20 candidates across Michigan with many more to come.

Its candidates have won not only in deeply red locales but also in districts with liberal strongholds, including Philadelphia and Minneapolis. Ryan Girdusky, the founder of this highly successful group, said, “Places we’re not supposed to typically win, we’ve won and I think we can keep on winning.”

Danette Stokes of the United Education Association said, “Teachers are over-worked and under-paid. If we pay them more it will reflect in the classrooms.” The average teacher’s salary is $62,613 for eight hours of work nine months a year plus generous benefits. Giving them more money will not produce better educated or socially prepared students with Democrats and unions controlling curriculum.

“There is obviously something wrong with our educational system. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that there might be something wrong with at least some of our school teachers. But of course, heaven help anyone daring to express such heretical views.” – J. Paul Getty


About the Author: William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13. His work also appears in The Center SquareThe Western JournalNeighbor NewspapersKPXJ 21 (Shreveport, LA)Killeen Daily HeraldAberdeen American NewsInsideNovaKankakee Daily JournalMonterey County WeeklyOlean Times HeraldThe Greeneville Sun and more. Follow William on Twitter @iii_haupt.