The Pandemic Caused A Parental ‘Awakening.’ Republicans Hope They Don’t Sleep On 2022.

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Glenn Youngkin’s victory showed the parents could be a winning coalition for the Republicans. Next up: mid-term.

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Republicans expect parental rights issues to be at the political forefront in 2022.
Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Westlake, Ohio – Michael Johns doesn’t want to be seen Democrats “Destroy our school system from the inside out,” which is why he ran for a seat on his local school board this year.

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“The vast majority of all tax money goes to schools … that’s why Democrats want to control it,” Johns, 62, told a GOP meeting in this northeastern Ohio suburb.

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Johns, the father of two teenagers and the owner of a construction business, did not win his race in Parma, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. But the issues that prompted him to run — which he sees as not enough parental controls and too much Democratic control over public school boards — are not resolved, and he predicts they will pop up statewide in the future. Will be a deciding factor in how you vote in the GOP primaries. Which mostly has nothing to do with his school board.

“We’ve let our control go too far from us,” Johns said after the meeting. “Everything is settled without us saying anything.”

Earlier this month, Republican Glenn Youngkin Virginia won the gubernatorial race By appealing to parents and their anger towards public schools, which exploded during the pandemic. That race, and others showing a GOP resurgence in swing-prone suburbs, is seen as a brutal midterm election for Democrats. Less than a year left for the election, Republican Looking forward to building on the terms and messages that work for them this year – President Joe BidenWeak election data, inflation, supply chain gaps and impact on public education.

Up and down ballots in the GOP’s race, protesting widely critical race theory and the perceived teaching of masked mandates have become standard fare for Republicans. CRT has its origins in academia, but Republicans have essentially changed “critical race theory” to a key term for any education related to racism and history in public schools. Districts across the country have pushed back, arguing that there is no real CRT in the primary, middle or high school curriculum.

Still, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, led successful campaign To ban alleged CRTs in schools, This is called “state-sanctioned racism”. Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, who is trying to oust a vulnerable Democratic incumbent, has pledged to implement a system to allow parents. CRT. Report alleged instances of directly to his office, according to Townhall, a right-wing news site.

At the same time, Democrats are trying to figure out how to counter Republicans on issues of race, especially in Youngkin’s contest, with an emphasis on CRT and other race-coded messaging not diminishing their support among voters of color. Happened.

“It should scare Democrats. With our democracy on the line, we must have an effective counterattack on race, reconsidering the false choice between mobilizing base voters or persuading swing voters,” said Democrat activist Tori Gavito and former Sen. Harry Reed’s employee Adam Gentleson wrote In a New York Times op-ed after the election.

In Ohio, Republican Senate candidate Jane Timken contributed to campaigns for more than 40 school board candidates running on conservative platforms. About half of them won. Just after this month’s election, Timken launched a “parents first” listening tour, aimed at potential supporters geared toward education.

At a recent Bar & Grill in Westlake, Timken demonstrated how one candidate is trying to turn the grassroots energy surrounding parental rights into a statewide primary victory.

Timken, a mother of two adult children, said she felt the parental rebellion in the spring before it erupted nationally. At the time, many school buildings were still closed and the response to the CRT was relatively new.

“Long before it became a national topic, I was listening to parents and I was talking to them. They came up to me and said, ‘Do you know what’s going on in our schools?’ Because the pandemic opened people’s eyes. There was an awakening in the parents,” Timken told the group as they snacked on spicy chicken wings in the restaurant’s cramped room.

“Let me tell you, they beat Mama and Papa Bear,” she said. “Parents want to have a say in their children’s education.”

Republican Senate nominee Jane Timken discusses parental rights issues with Republicans in Westlake, Ohio.
Republican Senate nominee Jane Timken discusses parental rights issues with Republicans in Westlake, Ohio.
Liz Skalka /

After the incident, Timken responded to the clumsy debate that Republicans believed ultimately drowned Youngkin’s Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, in the gubernatorial race.

“Terry McAuliffe said the cool part out loud – that parents shouldn’t talk about what their kids are being taught in schools,” Timken said, referring to a comment made by McAuliffe That’s why they protested parents to remove books from school libraries. “I think the Democrats have weaponized it. You’ve seen a lot of caring people who just want to have their say in their children’s education.”

For some parents, it was the masked mandate and virtual learning that pushed them over the edge. For others, it was the teaching of anti-racism curriculum and sex education, and allowing students to use the bathroom that best matched their gender identity, not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth. .

These issues are not outwardly alike, but the tug of war over parental rights has become the newest battlefield for both sides. Republicans want more parental supervision in public education; Democrats want to empower teachers and experts. Democrats embrace diversity and inclusion efforts; Republicans view them with suspicion and say they create more division.

“Parental rights are a big issue,” said Rick Singier, who has been a school board member in Brooklyn, Ohio, for the past 10 years. He was one of the candidates to contest this year’s election with the support of a conservative Christian group. ohio value voter, whose anti-CRT, pro-parental rights slate, like others across the country, was a mixed success.

“I put my signs up, ‘No CRT. No waking culture. No cancel culture. Basic education.’ People need to know where we’re coming from,” said Sinzier, a mortgage loan officer.

Timken said parents have complained about her recently: students were forced to answer pronoun questionnaires and learn “extensive” sex education without parental consent. Timken described a district in central Ohio where a woman named “Miss Rosemary”, who was not a certified teacher, was brought into classes to teach sex education to elementary school students, leaving parents shocked and Angry, he said.

Most of the people at Timken’s midday celebrations last Thursday, which skewed old and white people, were concerned about local and national issues. They were concerned about job prospects for graduates, student loan debt, and driving high school graduates to expensive liberal arts degrees instead of more practical vocational training.

He complained that young people would prefer to stay home and collect government money rather than enter the workforce – even as additional federal unemployment payments that helped those who lost their jobs during the pandemic ended in September, and unemployment remained low. has been

“We’re going to eventually wake up in a nightmare,” said Lucy Stickon, a local GOP official in her 50s who worries that the younger generation isn’t able to build wealth like their parents and grandparents. is not able. “These kids better get back to business and they’re back to work… Sometimes people suffer before they learn the truth, and unfortunately that’s what happened to our country.”

Johns, a former school board candidate, told Timken that locally, he fears Democrats are overseeing large municipal budgets and outperforming Republicans in early absentee voting.

Nationally, he opposes Biden Enhanced Child Tax Credit – Who child poverty reduction Up to 40% in July, according to one study – go to poorer households that earn no income or don’t have enough to file federal tax returns.

“What good is a tax credit when you haven’t paid any taxes?” Johns said. “If you haven’t paid any taxes, you should reserve one for the day you actually make some money and lower your tax bill.”

Stickon encouraged school board candidates, even candidates such as Johns, who did not win, to retain it, as a new opportunity for the party to attract voters and attention to his movement. Seeing it.

“I’ve been involved for a long time and I don’t remember ever seeing this interest in schools,” she said. “So I guess we should take these lemons and make lemonade.”

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