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The Fight For America’s School Boards

A woman sits on bleachers next to protest signs at a school board meeting in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
A woman sits on bleachers next to protest signs at a school board meeting in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

School boards are used to dealing with local grievances. But these days, their meetings are becoming venues for national issues. These often mundane gatherings have become ground zero for heated debates over mask mandates, critical race theory, and gender pronouns.

This year, school board meetings have been moved and in some cases canceled. Some board members have been threatened and police have been forced to make arrests.

Now, parents, grandparents, and activists are organizing ahead of next year’s elections to upend who gets elected to these boards. Organizers for workshops designed to help those interested in running for election say they cannot keep up with demand.

But school boards have long been local flashpoints for issues that are as much national, as they are local. Are the current disputes much different from those in the past over sex education, textbooks or the fight to keep evolution out of the classroom?

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5