Back to school

School board candidates organize to prevent CRT from subverting their classrooms.

Thirty local candidates gathered in suburban St. Paul for a training session on how to talk about education issues and ultimately win election to the school board. It was American Experiment’s first foray into training school board candidates and grew out of overwhelming interest in the issue of Critical Race Theory.

American Experiment embarked on a 17-city tour this summer educating citizens on the dangers of Critical Race Theory, and documenting its implementation in Minnesota schools. The Raise Our Standards tour attracted thousands of participants and raised awareness of CRT across the state. As a result, the Minnesota legislature voted to delay implementation of the proposed social studies standards because of their reliance on the CRT framework.

Tough questions also targeted local school boards, where ideas like equity audits and Critical Race Theory were taking root. Hundreds of citizens began showing up at school board meetings, dominating the public forum part of the agenda. Many school boards reacted poorly by enacting time limits or even eliminating public forum altogether. School board members began to announce they were resigning — they couldn’t take the pressure.

Out of all this turmoil, an amazing thing happened. Frustrated parents and citizens signed up to run for school boards all over the state. Over 200 candidates met the August 10th filing deadline with some school districts seeing 15 candidates running for only four seats.

“A school board campaign school was the perfect follow-up for American Experiment’s Raise Our Standards campaign,” said John Hinderaker, president of Center of the American Experiment.

The one-day non-partisan campaign school began with a presentation on Critical Race Theory and other important education policy issues by Education Policy Fellow Catrin Wigfall. That was followed by a talk on the complexities of school finance, since most decisions made by school board members involve funding.

The afternoon was dedicated to the nuts-and-bolts tactics of getting elected — everything from lawn signs to digital advertising.

“Despite federal and state efforts to take over school policy, the most important decisions regarding our children’s education remain at the local level,” Hinderaker said, adding that the Center is already planning future campaign schools.