Five school board races to keep an eye on in the midterms

As Republicans attempt to regain control of Congress this November, some conservative groups are focused on the school board election.

These races used to be quiet, impartial competitions focused on local issues, but they got heated in 2021 as parents expressed frustration with COVID-19 guidelines.

Now these school board elections in the US have become bipartisan, framed by culture wars over how issues like race and sexuality are taught in the classroom.

Here, news week looks at some of the most notable school board elections coming up.

A woman holds up her sign
A woman holds up a sign about critical race theory being taught in classrooms during a board meeting at Loudoun County Public Schools in Ashburn, Virginia October 12, 2021. Race and sexuality are taught in the classroom.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Loudoun County, Virginia

Six candidates are vying for two seats on the Loudoun County school board this November.

Nick Gothard, Tiffany Polifko and Andrew Hoyler are fighting for the seat as the Broad Run district representative, while Lauren Shernoff, Michael Rivera and Erika Ogedegbe are fighting for a seat as the Leesburg district representative.

Loudoun County became the center of the nation’s culture wars in 2021 after school board meetings became contentious over teaching related to race, transgender rights and COVID-19 mandates. Loudoun County Public Schools also came under fire for handling two sexual assault cases.

Texas Board of Education

Thirty-three candidates are running for all 15 seats on the Texas Board of Education, which dictates what students are taught in the Lone Star State’s 1,200 public school districts.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) was a key theme at the contests, with two Republican incumbents on the State Council losing their primaries to candidates who promised to ban critical race theory from classrooms The Texas Tribune.

CRT is a college-level theory that argues that racism and prejudice are embedded in US law and institutions. Public schools across the country have said they don’t teach it, but CRT has become a catch-all for critics of policies that promote equity and inclusion.

Sarasota County School Board

Bridget Ziegler, a founding member of Moms for Liberty, a conservative group that advocates for parental rights in schools, is running for re-election to the Sarasota County School Board in Florida.

She has been endorsed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has weighed in on the school board election debate to expand his influence while he is running for re-election. His name has been mentioned as a potential candidate for a presidential election in 2024.

Ziegler’s opponent, Dawnyelle Singleton, told ABC News that misinformation in public schools “continues to spread” and two of the most contentious issues were mask mandates at the height of the pandemic and critical race theory.

“Public schools are under attack,” she said. “Our teachers and administrators are being undermined left and right, and our democracy is at stake.”

Dearborn Public Schools

Six candidates are running for two vacant seats on the board of Dearborn Public Schools in Michigan. They are Ned Apigian, Hussein Berry, Patrick D’Ambrosio, Steve Durant, Angie Hammock-Isaacson and Redhwan Saleh.

Dearborn Public Schools recently made headlines after conservative Muslim parents tried to pressure school officials to ban LGBTQ+-themed books.

Republicans, who have launched a nationwide effort to ban books with LGBTQ+ content from schools, showed support for parents.

San Francisco Unified School District

San Francisco residents ousted three progressive members of the city’s school board in early 2022 over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But progressives could make a comeback with three spots up for grabs on November 8th.

Three of the nominees – Lainie Motamedi, Lisa Weissman-Ward and Ann Hsu – were appointed to the board following the dismissal of Mayor London Breed.

Gabriela López, the former CEO who was ousted in the recall, is also running alongside Alida Fisher and Karen Fleshman, both of whom opposed the recall. The trio was reportedly backed by many of the city’s more progressive politicians and groups Chronicle of San Francisco. Five school board races to keep an eye on in the midterms

Rick Schindler

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