Fewer Teachers, Fewer People Running For School Board..

Can you stand one more lament about the Right-wing assaults harming public education?

In a recent column for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin reported on an alarming academic study. Researchers found

that the “virulent stream of hyperpartisan political conflict” has had “a chilling effect on high school education.” Teachers are seeking to avoid controversy by “pulling back on teaching lessons in civics, politics, and the history and experiences of America’s minority communities;” incidents of verbal harassment of LGBTQ students are on the rise; and many teachers and administrator are planning to leave their jobs.

The authors of the report surveyed 682 public high school principals, who confirmed that organized campaigns have attempted to intimidate public schools and force changes to align with right-wing ideology. The researchers write, “Our survey data make clear that political conflict over a set of hot button issues occurred at more than two-thirds (69%) of public schools across the nation during the 2021-2022 school year.” Moreover, “Half of all principals report that parents or other community members sought to limit or challenge teaching and learning about issues of race and racism. Nearly half report challenges to school policies and practices related to LGBTQ student rights.” And a third of principals said “parents or community members raised challenges to school library books they deemed inappropriate.”

Researchers have found that “a relatively small group of hostile parents and community members are leading the charge,” despite the preferences of a clear majority of parents  who want kids to have an accurate education.( One recent national survey found that over 95% of Americans want high school students to learn about slavery, and 85% want them to learn about racial inequality.)

Perhaps the most troubling finding was the effect of this assault on students’ ability to identify misinformation. Apparently, students in classrooms with educators intimidated by these tactics show a diminished capacity to distinguish between credible and falsified information. At a time when misinformation, disinformation and propaganda are a huge problem, an ability to evaluate the likely accuracy of information is incredibly important, and the best way to help students make those judgements is by arming them with verifiable facts.

Interestingly, these assaults have been most numerous in so-called “purple” communities–areas that were previously reliably Republican but are changing– becoming more Democratic in the wake of Trump and the demise of Roe.

Many principals noted the “mass hysteria” over critical race theory, fueled by disinformation about schools’ curricula. This has impacted schools in purple communities the most, with almost a quarter of principals in such areas reporting that their school board or district leaders limited teaching on race or racism. Only 17 percent of schools in red communities, by comparison, and 8 percent of blue communities did the same.

Purple communities were also more likely to experience MAGA partisans’ attempts to ostracize or stigmatize LGBTQ individuals, Thirty-two percent of principals in purple districts report incidents of “hostile or demeaning remarks toward LGBTQ classmates,” compared with 22 percent in red or blue communities. Across all schools, the percentage of principals reporting multiple attacks on LGBTQ students increased from 15 percent in 2018 to 24 percent this year.

These political assaults aren’t limited to attacks on teachers and principals. Culture warriors trying to protect their political turf are making life miserable for school board members, too.

Here in Indiana, Hamilton County–adjacent to Marion County/indianapolis– is one of those areas that has been turning purple, and Moms for Liberty, a  national crackpot organization, ran “anti-woke” slates in several Hamilton County school districts .

As Chalkbeat reports,

The winning candidates in Hamilton Southeastern, Tiffany Pascoe (District 1), Juanita Albright (District 2), Dawn Lang (District 3), and Ben Orr (District 4), were supported by the Hamilton County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a powerful and controversial conservative group that rose to prominence by opposing mask mandates, critical race theory and social emotional learning. The group aims to install like-minded people in school board seats across the country.

Amber Huff Willis (At Large), William Anderson (District 2) and Rebecca Ogle (District 4) won seats on the Westfield Washington school board; they were also supported by Moms for Liberty Hamilton County.

The Carmel Clay  school board governs one of the larger districts in Hamilton County, and the effort to take over that board was less successful. Incumbents supporting diversity, equity and inclusion efforts were re-elected; however, one candidate who claimed that “radical liberal teachers” were “indoctrinating” Carmel students won in a very close race.

Our daughter served on the Indianapolis school board for 20 years, and I watched her spend countless hours for very little pay working with colleagues, parents and teachers to improve local public schools.

Given today’s dishonest, ugly assaults, how many citizens will willingly run for school board? Teachers aren’t the only ones deciding it just isn’t worth it.


  1. Human rights and civil rights don’t always agree, but, they do overlap quite a bit.

    The United Nations tells us officially around 1948, every human has the right to life. These basics usurp any civil right.

    Basic human rights would be education, freedom of expression, fair trial, protection from torture, protection from genocide, the rights to food, shelter, and water.

    But we call civil rights are not universal. They vary by human-made boundaries and governments.

    Religious practices allowed, level of education, the right to worship, a country’s culture within its borders, a country’s traditional standards.

    A government might attempt a genocide or a gentrification, or, enslave groups, religions, creeds, or ethnicities! This is a violation of human rights, and therefore is against international law. The country itself might allow it, but world Court of The United Nations, does not.

    That’s why you see certain countries trying to wriggle out of the international court system.

    And maybe that should be the form of attack rather than using civil rights through a country’s law structure, and use human rights as a way to bring it into larger focus by using the World Court. The United States is a signatory to the court. (I C J)

    Litigation through the world court or the International Court of Justice, can bring much condemnation on the trampling of civil rights in a particular country. Those civil rights would have been litigated in that particular country. And to deprive any group of humans equality under those rights who would be against international law. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work!

    I mean think about it, how can you deny someone because of gender, or someone because of race, or someone because of religion, or someone because of a specific creed, or someone because of a specific social standard? That would go against the law of human rights.

    Ordinarily, we don’t hear a whole lot about international human rights litigation, but this country would be all over it! It would be the talk that would start out the news cycle. Therefore, interjecting much needed disinfectant to inequality and unfair access to a government’s social norms and safety nets.

    Human rights are sometimes called god-given rights! Because, human rights are mentioned in Scripture. Freedom to express oneself, or being a free moral agent. No one moral agent has the right to infringe upon another moral agent concerning education, sustenance, shelter, medical care, or access to that care, social standings or religious beliefs. No one moral agent or agents have the right to judge, or impose their own personal values on another moral agent. If civil courts of justice are unfair, then The International Court of Justice would be the way to go.

    Groups and organizations, governments and countries! Individuals, can be levied fines, including operatives, leaders, and lawmakers can be prosecuted and sentenced to prison. Signatories to the court are obligated to obey the litigation.

    It’s far from perfect, but it is a recourse!

  2. “Perhaps the most troubling finding was the effect of this assault on students’ ability to identify misinformation.”

    They are being fed misinformation trying to sort out truth from lies in the news; those in staunch Republican families are at the greatest disadvantage. Maybe I was fortunate growing up in one of those families in one of those neighborhoods years ago and was stubborn enough to question the reasoning behind their value system; especially the lack of value they put on the lives of “others”. How much of current student’s ability to identify misinformation is caused by their concerns about surviving the possibility of a mass shooting in their school rooms and how can they identify information they are being denied with the public education budget supporting religious schools rather than educating them?

    “Given today’s dishonest, ugly assaults, how many citizens will willingly run for school board? Teachers aren’t the only ones deciding it just isn’t worth it.”

    GIVING UP AND WALKING AWAY FROM THE PROBLEM WILL NOT RESOLVE IT!!! They are saying the lives of our children are not worth fighting for.

  3. John, I thought that the Trump administration took America out of the World Court, rather than be faced with the Court’s denunciation over some of its practices.

  4. Pascal, The USA never joined the World Court, though most Presidents since Wilson wanted to. Joining would take a 2/3 majority vote in the Senate and that number has never been there. Ironically the US chooses not to give up its sovereignty when it is fighting in somebody else’s country. The reason Obama didn’t leave troops in Iraq was because he couldn’t get a Status of Forces agreement, which would have allowed the US to control judgements for US troops accused of wrongdoing.

    All of that is beside the point, the disappearance of sanity on school boards and in classrooms. In Florida, our lord and conqueror Dementis, pushed his hand picked servants onto school boards in every right leaning county. In Collier County, the nut jobs have forced out the superintendent, who had announced her retirement to take place at the end of the school year. During her time on the job, she raised standards and scores for Collier County Schools and was praised by 90% of the parents and the teachers. In my home county, the takeover started earlier, but culminated in the last election with the defeat on the only African American on the board and a really stupid decision by our voters to elect the superintendents. Too bad our school board isn’t more like our legislature and willing to ignore the vote.

  5. While the ideological threat is in our face, this issue is further evidence of the dramatic decline in civic participation in America is every shape and form. Sure there is something more recent, but check out the book “Bowling Alone” (my current reading).

  6. I think everyone should go to the WSJ to view the election voting results for 2022. Highest voting numbers for those under 30 in decades. The youth of today have been educated better and have worldwide information at their finger tips and on their phones. Boomers don’t seem to give them any credit but most of my nieces and nephews are college educated and continue to question everything. The ones that don’t will be left behind like my niece who has never voted. She lives in northern Indiana and just doesn’t care.

    I am stunned to read that 26 states allow open carry of guns without needing a permit. If you don’t get a handle on the gun violence over there, there won’t be anyone in schools anymore. I’d be afraid to leave the house. Happy new year. Ugh

  7. Idiot-level parents have always tried to intimidate teachers. The problem is complex, of course, with not enough teachers being well-enough informed of the alternate arguments that puts those ill-informed parents in their places. This is especially true in civics courses where far too many of those teachers are coaches whose jobs depend on winning seasons. They certainly don’t need any more confrontations. I lost two jobs for teaching proper science that was supported by state curriculum requirements because parents whined. One set confronted me and I proceeded to outline the facts and the state guidelines. Didn’t matter. They threatened the superintendent’s job and that was that.

    That all said, we must harken back to the Lewis Powell memorandum that called for this to happen in schools and universities to promote the Libertarian view. As with everything else stinking of corruption, the GOP latched onto this and have spent corporate money to promote the lies and disinformation necessary to kneecap the public schools. Those schools are NOT in the business of political attacks or defense of same. The intent of public education is MUCH more honorable and citizen-oriented. No wonder the &*^%$#$ Republicans attack the schools. It’s been part of the plan for decades.

    The only real solution is to get rid of the Republican party and its shit-slingers. Good luck with that.

    I’m glad I’m old, because my heart, the heart of an educator, is broken.

  8. “…these assaults have been most numerous in…areas that were previously reliably Republican but are changing-becoming more Democratic…”
    This indicates a desperate backlash by a minority of people who see their power slipping away. They know they are losing control. The “arc of history” continues to bend toward liberalism no matter how violently they oppose it. They can do damage, but they are losing the culture wars.

  9. Vernon, maybe I was just lucky. I taught evolution, and refused to teach creationism, in the very conservative, largely working class, suburban community where I worked for 30 years. I puzzle over how our experiences could have been so different. No wonder your heart was broken. Condolences, my colleague.

  10. Sorg is wrong about the ICC and the US being a signatory to the international court. We haven’t signed because we are the biggest hypocrites in the world and don’t want to be held accountable for our crimes, but we lament how others violate international laws.

    As for school boards, the legislators in Indianapolis and the oligarchs in Muncie orchestrated a coup of our local school board. Yet, amazingly, even the elected school board members didn’t put up a fight for the voters and local taxpayers.

    The Tea Party crowd of days old (now MAGA stars) still attend school board meetings protesting masks and vaccines, and all the latest curriculum no-nos. I can only imagine how the donut ring around Indy handles their schools.

  11. There is much knowledge that only parents can impart and the same can be said of teachers. If some parents don’t believe that their kids can handle the truth that teachers impart, home-school them.

  12. “…and the best way to help students make those judgements is by arming them with verifiable facts.”

    I disagree with this statement, and see the best way to help students would be to arm them with

    a strong “Bullshit detector,” as per ‘Science as a Candle in the Dark-The Demon Haunted World,” by

    Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan.

  13. You guys are right, my bad on the signatory issue. But that still would not prevent organizations within this country’s borders to bring complaints to the world court. The country would not be bound by those decisions, but, it would be very good tinder for the fire!

  14. Also, if POTUS wanted to join the court, and he declared a national emergency which suspended habeas corpus and suspended Congress, he could unilaterally join the court.

    There are always workarounds, it’s just the will to use them which stands in the way.

  15. The ones screaming the loudest about “indoctrination” are the ones most desperate to indoctrinate with their own ideologies. As mentioned by others above, they fear losing control, and that makes them dangerous. They used to just chip away at public school systems. Now they’re using sledgehammers.

  16. While teaching at Mississippi State I overheard undergraduates talking about an up coming biology test where they “knew what they had to answer” about evolution, but they knew what the Bible taught.

    Also school boards are often starting points for politicians. Once a reactionary has proven his/her “bonifides” on the board it would make getting elected to a higher political position.

  17. I know this won’t get posted but this is the biggest load of liberal crap I’ve ever read. Please stop your delusional ideology. Teachers don’t want to teach anymore because the left is raising new generations of mentally ill youth that are disrespectful, delusional and disruptive. They cannot be effective educators when they are busy trying to battle disruption all day. I can’t blame them for seeking other employment.

  18. @Angela Wiley
    OK Boomer! (Not an actual age comment, but reflecting someone who resists anything remotely progressive.) If you think this is liberal…I don’t know that I can say anything to you.

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