Local school board races are Ohio’s most violent cultural battlefield

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Richard Lewis, CEO of the Ohio Board of Education Association (OSBA), said Wednesday night that there were 2,678 school board candidates across the state. Among them are 1,351 Challengers, with a dramatic 30% increase in Challenger numbers since 2019 and a 50% increase from 2017.

The school board elections, which took place in odd-numbered years, became the battlefield of cultural war this year. In Ohio, far-right organizations such as Ohio Value Bower and Protect Ohio Children have put out slate of candidates in the suburbs against what is called critical race theory, inclusive sex education, social and emotional learning. Did. (The majority of these candidates are also approved by Republican Party in Kaiyahoga County.. )

Opposition to these issues is on social media and At a suburban Republican club, And at a school board meeting in the suburbs of Cleveland, crescendo to what would normally be a comedy ratio.

But the meeting was tense. Armed police are now commonplace. The fears and anxieties that arose from both pandemics and countries that consider racial justice are now manifested in fine-grained concerns about curriculum and school management. Parents and other community members now regularly condemn the Board on issues ranging from student mask obligations and other Covid precautions to courses of diversity, equity and inclusion. I am.

There is a lot of pure bending controversy.In Hudson, Mayor Craig Schwert Asked the entire school board to resign Last month about the prompt for a creative writing course book that has been used for years in college-level electives. Shubert called prompts that had never been used in class “essentially child pornography.”

Richard Lewis on Wednesday Real talk series Sponsored by a number of Northeast Ohio Women’s Voter Alliances. He didn’t speculate on the reason for the surge in candidates, but said the rise was unusual, but he wasn’t worried about future sales. He said the school board tends to have significant churn anyway, with an average tenure of about four years. When asked directly by Ideastream Public Media moderator Jenny Hamel, he said he wasn’t worried about the potential influx of new members.

“There is nothing to be afraid of,” he said. “New school board members bring new and fresh ideas and ask questions that have never been asked. All board members have started anew one day.”

But he said he didn’t want the new candidate to be a “single-issue” board member.

“It’s a tough job,” he said. “The job is to raise the bar for students’ grades, provide world-class education, and help students succeed and lead a better life. If an individual has only one problem, they They have been there for four years. They need to be prepared to undertake all these other difficult decisions and mantles on various agendas. ”

A member of the local school board who appeared in the panel discussion commented that many of last year’s hot button issues were far from the responsibility of the board. For example, opposition to the critical race theory that is currently standard among the delusional white communities that they perceive to be conquered intersects with the Board’s decision on budget and governance. That is rarely the case.

“People’s concerns about critical race theory aren’t what we’re doing,” said James Field, a member of Hudson’s school board. He and others have said they are now spending time explaining to excited community members what diversity, fairness and inclusiveness mean in the first place.

“The point of DEI is not to offend white students,” said Lisa Primer, president of the Bay Village Board of Education, detailing conversations with worried parents and grandparents.Teachers are also mostly white In mostly white suburban communities, DEI is often simply Release Students of different races and cultures. Priemer referred to the radical act of obtaining books by racially diverse authors for the school library.

NS Rhetoric without enemy hingesHowever, critical race theory is not only taught in local high schools, but also to teach children racial hatred of whites, American history, and capitalism, with the aim of taking over our country by communism. I think. .. (This is due to Robocall on the Rocky River, a small contract with the Cleveland Diversity Center encouraged voters to vote against school taxes. In this course, freshmen take on other cultures. We conducted a 4-hour DEI course that encourages respect.)

Experts say it was a tactic emanating from a right-wing think tank to arouse voters’ fears and anger at these split issues and lead them to the school board race.

For the Wednesday scene, Piet Van Liar, a senior researcher at Policy Matters, Ohio, mentioned locations such as the Manhattan Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

“They are well-funded people and organizations from outside Ohio, and these issues weren’t really a problem until they brought them in and started spreading money and issues,” he said. rice field. “This is now one of those” anti “problems. Anti-CRT, anti-mask, anti-vax. It’s all part of the same impetus that disrupts our democracy. ”

Van Lier says most of Ohio’s 90% of state public schools take a solid approach to teaching history, one of the most furious areas of parental opposition. He said he believed.

“Teachers are confronting the racial history of our country and seeing where we are now and how we can move forward together,” he said. “It’s not a splitting message. It’s a positive message, but all the forged controversies are about agitating fear.”

Van Lier said it was intentional. Angry, terrifying voters are much more likely to vote on election day, probably for Republican candidates.

“It’s part of the guide,” said Van Liar. “It’s not just who teaches what to children. It’s about finding the problem of concentrating people in this election and 2022 and 2024. It’s a long-term strategy. The problem of building these offends people. And motivate them to go to polls. ”

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Local school board races are Ohio’s most violent cultural battlefield

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