Grievances over how children are taught about institutional racism have transformed once-sleepy education department elections into conflicts with the potential to polarize how a younger breed learns about American history. This debate also carries the potential to boost Republican political strength.
These tensions aren’t limited to places where conservative legislative bodies have enacted bills regulating how race and discrimination are addressed in schools. Concerned parents have disrupted school board meetings in Virginia, Minnesota, as well as in New Hampshire.
In some cases, this has resulted in imprisonment and in mysterious organizations successfully sponsoring politicians running against “critical race theory.”
Republicans are Fighting Hard
Taking advantage of the swell of anti-racist rage education is becoming a unifying issue in the congressional, governorship, and presidential campaigns of Republicans.
Local elections, on the other hand, may determine what children learn in the classrooms for years to come, since they take place outside of the spotlight. In many cases, these are contests that draw only a few hundred people.
BREAKING: Today I filed HB 75, a Bill to totally BAN all vaccine & mask mandates in Florida. Woke corporations, radical school boards, and lawless local governments are violating the rights of every Floridian—its time to fight back.
— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) September 8, 2021
This Will No Doubt Strengthen the Republican Party
Previously unengaged Republican politicians are swarming local government and party campaigns; in doing so, they’re seeking a forum to battle critical race theory, school mask mandates, and other culture-war concerns centered on children.
The campaign has the potential to strengthen the GOP. While neutral elections are common, the Republican Party sees them as an excellent opportunity to develop a pipeline of new political candidates.
The excitement, the passion, is remarkable, said Pam Kirby, who oversees the Arizona GOP’s “education department boot camps.” Despite the fact that most Arizona school board elections do not take place for at least a year, Kirby has already begun giving a new round of her classes, due to high demand.
Upwards of 200 people have graduated from the program, with another 80 on the waiting list. She stated that Republicans from Oregon, Texas, New York, Indiana, as well as other states, have requested her to run similar classes for them.
— ACTforAmerica (@ACTforAmerica) September 8, 2021
About a quarter of those in the classes go through to run for office, while the rest joined their local GOP committees, often as district members of the committee. Since February, almost 1,500 members of the committee have been elected in Maricopa County, according to Kirby.
Critical race theory provides a concept for studies developed in the 1980s by legal scholars; these studies are designed to look at how racism and prejudice have been entrenched in American structures and institutions after slavery, as well as Jim Crow.
Although the study is almost unknown in K-12 schools, it’s been used to characterize multicultural training sessions and a variety of classroom topics on slavery, misogyny, and other discriminatory behaviors this year.
While many conservative politicians oppose critical race theory, they acknowledge that the graduate-level regulatory process is not taught in K-12 institutions. Candidates utilize resistance to critical race theory to show their animus toward education that further focuses on discrimination or injustice; although, there is widespread fear that similar concepts are infiltrating public institutions.