© 2021 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Education

Why school boards are a nexus of America's culture wars

Patti Hidalgo Menders speaks out against board actions during a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on October 12, 2021. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Patti Hidalgo Menders speaks out against board actions during a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on October 12, 2021. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Maud Maron is an attorney, mom, former school board member, and now an independent candidate for New York City Council. She knows firsthand how high the temperature can get at school board meetings.

“We’re sort of algorithmically set up to run to the far corners of our positions instead of finding the middle ground,” she says.

As for calls for federal law enforcement to investigate school board meeting outbursts, Maron says:

“Offering your opinion at a public meeting in a public setting is a quintessentially important American thing to do,” she says. “It’s a protected right, and it’s something that we absolutely need to make sure is not … stopped or intimidated.”

While parents are showing up concerned about what their kids are learning at school, politics are also at play at school board meetings across the country.

“Right-wing groups have often returned to public schools as a culture war battleground,” Peter Montgomery says. “But it is also clearly an attempt to rile up and mobilize.”

This hour, On Point: Inside the school board culture wars.

Guests

Peter Montgomery, senior fellow at Right Wing Watch, a progressive advocacy group. (@petemont)

Noah Weinrich, spokesman for Heritage Action for America. (@weinrich_noah)

Laura Vozzella, Virginia politics reporter at the Washington Post. (@LVozzella)

Also Featured

Shirley Brown, chair of the Sarasota County School Board.

Maud Maron, New York City Council candidate. (@MaudMaron)

From The Reading List

Right Wing Watch: “Turning Point USA Targets School Boards Over ‘Evil’ Mask Requirements and ‘Radical’ Training on Bias and Inequality | Right Wing Watch” — “Turning Point USA, an organization that trains and mobilizes right-wing college students, launched a project targeting public school boards on August 15, the Documented newsletter reported.”

Right Wing Watch: “The Right-Wing Political Machine Is Out to Take Over School Boards by Fanning Fears of Critical Race Theory” — “The right-wing campaign to stifle teaching and discussion about racism in U.S. history and institutions is fearmongering about critical race theory to mobilize right-wing activists and conservative voters to take over local school boards.”

Right Wing Watch: “Family Research Council Raises Money for Right-Wing School Board Takeover Campaign” — “Family Research Council President Tony Perkins is raising money to promote right-wing takeovers of local school boards.”

Spectrum News 1: “Conservative groups are training activists to swarm school board meetings” — “Blanca Martinez stepped up to the podium at a recent meeting of the Fort Worth School Board.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hey! Did you enjoy this story? We can’t do it without you. We are member-supported, so your donation is critical to KOSU's news reporting and music programming. Help support the reporters, DJs and staff of the station you love.

Here's how:

Related Content