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Local school boards emerge as hot races in November election


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In a school district near the Ohio state capital, school board members up for reelection this year have been subjected to a steady stream of lawsuits and attacks, both in-person and online. In another, an incumbent up for reelection who supports student mask requirements received a letter from someone angered by her stance who warned: “We are coming after you.”

A 15-year veteran board member in yet another Ohio district decided against running for reelection because of the escalating public attacks.

It’s not just in Ohio. Across the U.S., local school board races have emerged as an intense political battleground in the Nov. 2 elections, with much at stake for students.

Parental protests over COVID-19-related mask mandates, gender-neutral bathrooms, and teachings about racial history, sexuality and social-emotional learning are being leveraged into full-fledged board takeover campaigns that will get their first widespread test in just a few weeks.

“What’s happening in 2021 is a prelude to some of the messaging, some of the issues we’ll see going into the midterm elections,” said Scott DiMauro, president of the Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

Local school board elections typically have been relatively quiet affairs where incumbents sail to reelection, often unopposed. This year, candidate training academies organized by national conservative groups and state-level recruitment efforts are encouraging challenges by right-leaning political newcomers. The results could have consequences for public education and coronavirus safety measures across the country.

The thousands of local school districts in the U.S. make it difficult to know how many sitting board members are facing challenges next month from conservative-leaning community members. But the challenges appear widespread.

This article was originally published in Washington Times. Read the full article.

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