“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach…” That was the infamous line from Terry McCaullife (D-VA) at a debate last year in the race for Virginia governor that sent shockwaves throughout the country. A former Virginia governor, McCaullife would end up losing to Republican businessman and political newcomer Glenn Youngkin (R-VA), who retorted “I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.” When taken together, the statements from these two candidates illustrate plainly the mindset of the left’s big-government, anti-parent progressive agenda versus the free, transparent and pro-parent approach to education from the conservative alternative.
On his first day on the job as governor, Youngkin’s first two executive orders called for sweeping changes and reviews of the states education department and standards, and empowered parents when sexually explicit or otherwise inappropriate materials were being delivered to children in school.
At an event following his election, Governor Youngkin explained why “strong schools that teach our children how to excel, not watering down the curriculum, a school where parents have a say in what their children are being taught,” is a winning message and that “Republicans across the country can own” the issue.
Youngkin’s victory and playbook for success is a fascinating case study in political campaigns, as he took an issue that was polling 7th or 8th most important to the electorate nationally and turned it into the number one issue of the statewide campaign. It helped propel a movement where, today, conservative candidates are campaigning hard for hundreds of local school board races all across America.
In Wisconsin, a slate of four Republican activists are taking on the incumbent liberal establishment class in a Milwaukee suburb. A similar phenomena is taking place this year in Tennessee, where four conservatives are challenging incumbents and trying to fill open seats in the Nashville suburbs.
“A few years ago, 62% of school board positions went uncontested or unfilled, and that’s actually how I got on,” Josh Aikens told NJ Spotlight News. “I saw nobody was running for the school board and I had people write me in. I was appalled that nobody was going for the school board,” said Aiken, who also serves as Chairman of Arise NJ, a new non-profit group established to train and recruit candidates for school or education board and other local races.
A similar group, ‘Concerned Parents and Educators’ was formed in Fairfax, Virginia, the epicenter of the education earthquake that spread the nation and ultimately led to the ascendance of Youngkin to the governorship. Government imposed mask mandates, controversial revisions to middle-school sexual education content, introduction of gender theory and other materials, all without parental consent, was taking place in the Washington, DC suburbs. Even the suspension of a student for not properly identifying a classmate’s self-proclaimed gender has made the area a laboratory for parents who pushing back against the left’s woke, anti-parent, school sexualization agenda.
Things are also heating up in the Sunshine State, where Governor Ron DeSantis is backing a local school teacher against a 24-year incumbent who hasn’t faced a challenger since 1998, the Miami Herald reported. “The race has attracted more money, over $372,000, than the other three School Board races, highlighting the role DeSantis is playing in local elections and how political they’ve become, even for this nonpartisan contest,” the Herald notes.
Local political parties and grassroots operatives now have an emerging type of candidate to seek out and push into the ring: concerned parents. Many who were apolitical before, now feel forced into running for office to protect their children from the left’s barrage of biased education.
Public school administrators are starting to learn the hard way that “parents matter” (Youngkin’s campaign slogan). This November, and in the years ahead, the fat-cat bureaucrats running our local school systems are going to get a big wake up call from concerned mommies and daddies who aren’t afraid to do what is right to protect the rights of defenseless children.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action
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