WESTLAKE, Ohio – Michael Johns doesn’t want Democrats “destroying our school system from the inside out,” which is why he ran for a seat on the local school board this year.
âThe majority of all tax money goes to schoolsâ¦ that’s why Democrats want to control it,â Johns, 62, said at a recent GOP meeting in the northeastern suburb of the United States. Ohio.
Johns, a father of two teenagers and owner of a manufacturing business, did not win his race in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. But the issues that prompted him to come forward – what he sees as insufficient parental control and too much democratic control over public school boards – remain unresolved, and he predicts they will be a deciding factor in the process. how he will vote in future statewide GOP primaries. most of which have nothing to do with their school board.
âWe let our control get too far away from us,â Johns told HuffPost after the meeting. âEverything is decided without our having the slightest say. “
Earlier this month, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race appealing to parents and their anger at public schools, which exploded during the pandemic. This race, and others showing a resurgence of the GOP in the fluctuating suburbs, is seen as foreshadowing a brutal midterm election for Democrats. With less than a year to go, Republicans are hoping to build on the terms and messages that have worked for them this year – President Joe Biden’s low poll numbers, inflation, channel issues. procurement and calculation of public education.
In the top-to-bottom GOP races of the ballot, widely opposing the perceived teaching of critical race theory and mask mandates has become standard fare for Republicans. CRT has its origins in academia, but Republicans have turned “critical race theory” into a catch-all term for essentially all teaching related to racism and history in public schools. Districts across the country have backed down, arguing that there is no real CRT in elementary, middle or high school curricula.
Yet Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential candidate, led a successful campaign to ban the so-called cathode ray tube in schools, calling it “state sanctioned racism”. Nevada Senate hopeful Adam Laxalt, who is trying to oust a vulnerable Democratic incumbent, has pledged to implement a system that allows parents report suspected cases of CRT straight to his office, according to Townhall, a right-wing news site.
At the same time, Democrats are trying to find a way to counter Republicans on racial issues, especially since in Youngkin’s contest, the focus on CRT and other coded race messages doesn’t did not dampen his support among voters of color.
âThis should terrify Democrats. With our democracy at stake, we must forge an effective counterattack on race while rethinking the false choice between mobilizing grassroots voters or persuading swing voters, âsaid Democratic activist Tory Gavito and former Senator Harry Reid Adam Jentleson. wrote in a post-election New York Times editorial.
In Ohio, Republican Senate candidate Jane Timken helped campaign for more than 40 school board candidates running on conservative platforms. About half of them won. Immediately after this month’s election, Timken launched a âparents firstâ listening tour aimed at potential supporters for education purposes.
Recently at a Westlake grill bar, Timken showed how one contestant is trying to translate the grassroots energy around parental rights into a statewide primary victory.
Timken, a mother of two grown children, said she sensed the parental uprising brewing in the spring, before it erupted nationwide. At the time, many school buildings were still closed, and the CRT’s backlash was relatively new.
âLong before it became a national topic, I listened to parents and talked to them. They came to me and said, âDo you know what’s going on in our schools? Because the pandemic has opened people’s eyes. There was a wake-up call in the parents, âTimken told the group as they munched on spicy chicken wings in the restaurant’s narrow back room.
âLet me tell you, they stung mom and daddy bear,â she said. âParents want to have a say in the education of their children.
After the event, Timken spoke of the awkward response to the debate that Republicans say ultimately sank Youngkin’s Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe in the race for governor.
âTerry McAuliffe said aloud the quiet part – that parents shouldn’t have a say in what their children learn in schools,â Timken told HuffPost, referring to a comment from McAuliffe on why for which he objected to parents removing books from school libraries. âI think the Democrats have armed this. You see so many caring people who just want to have a say in their children’s education.
For some parents, it was the mask mandates and virtual learning that pushed them to the limit. For others, it was about teaching anti-racist curricula and sex education, and allowing students to use toilets that best match their gender identity, not necessarily the gender that was assigned to them at birth.
These issues are not the same in appearance, but they are underpinned by the wrestling over parental rights that has become the new battle front for both sides. Republicans want more parental supervision in public education; Democrats want to empower teachers and experts. Democrats embrace diversity and inclusion efforts; Republicans view them with skepticism and say they are creating more divisions.
âParental rights are a big deal,â said Rick Cyngier, a member of the Brooklyn, Ohio school board for 10 years. He was among the candidates who came forward this year with the support of a conservative Christian group, Ohio Voters, whose anti-CRT and pro-parent list, like others nationwide, has had mixed success.
âI put up my signs, ‘No CRT. No awakened culture. No cancellation of culture. Basic education. ‘ People need to know where we are from, âsaid Cyngier, a mortgage loan officer.
Among the things Timken said parents have complained about recently: students forced to answer pronouns quizzes and learn “comprehensive” sex education without parental consent. Timken described a neighborhood in central Ohio where a woman named “Miss Rosemary,” who was not a certified teacher, was brought into classrooms to teach sex education to elementary school students, which shocked and angered the parents, she said.
Most of those attending last Thursday’s noon event in Timken, who were older and white, had concerns straddling local and national issues. They worried about job prospects for graduates, student debt and high school graduates steered toward expensive liberal arts degrees instead of more hands-on job training.
They complained that young people would rather stay home and collect government money than enter the workforce, even though the additional federal unemployment benefit that has helped people who lost their jobs during the pandemic expired in september and unemployment tends to drop.
“We’re going to wake up to a nightmare eventually,” said Lucy Stickan, a local GOP officer in her 50s, who worries that the younger generations have not been able to build wealth like theirs. parents and their grandparents. âThese kids had better go back to the trades and they better go back to workâ¦ Sometimes people have to suffer before they learn the truth, and that’s unfortunately what happened with our country.
Johns, the former school board candidate, told Timken that locally he was concerned Democrats would oversee large city budgets and outperform Republicans in advance mail voting.
Nationally, he opposes Biden’s improved child tax credit – which cut child poverty by 40% in July, study finds – going to poor families who earn no income or earn not enough to file a federal income tax return.
âWhat is the tax credit for when we haven’t paid taxes? Johns said. “If you haven’t paid any tax, you should save it for the day you actually make money and lower your tax bill.”
Stickan encouraged school board candidates, even those like Johns who didn’t win, to persevere, seeing their movement as a new avenue for the party to gain voters and attention.
âI’ve been involved for a long time and I don’t remember seeing this interest in schools,â she said. âSo I think we should take these lemons and make lemonade. “