EDITOR’S NOTE:Every week we post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column on WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
In 1996 became the conservative Christian activist Ralph Reed explained, “I would rather have a thousand school board members than a president and no school board members.” As today’s school committee meetings are in screaming matches and Fistfights With mask requirements, vaccination regulations and anti-racist curricula, conservatives are regaining influence within one of the most underrated power structures in American politics.
In the 1990s, leaders of the religious right began to realize that school authorities wield tremendous power – both in their control over student experiences and in the way they can shape the debates that other races put on the ballot determine. So the Christian coalition led a campaign elect as many socially conservative as possible to school councils.
Today the right turns back to school authorities and the consequences for progressives and students across the country could be devastating. During most of the school board races officially non-partisanthat most of the candidates identify with a certain political ideology– and securing victories downwards can improve the prospects of moving upwards. By mobilizing conservative candidates to run for school elections – and encouraging their grassroots to disrupt public gatherings – Republicans are building a strong organizational structure to help them wage local cultural wars and seize power from the bottom up.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.