North Carolina is garnering national attention not just for the race to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, but also for its fiercely contested school board races.
A recent CNN article looked at school board races in North Carolina, highlighting those in Forsyth, Johnston, Durham, New Hanover and Wake counties.
In Forsyth County, 28 candidates were running in the primary to fill nine slots on the school board.
Over in Johnston County, John Fischer, a self-identified Proud Boy, ran for a place on the board. Twelve other candidates were also vying to fill three open seats there. Fischer finished in last place, 9,479 votes behind the top vote-getter.
Even in Durham County, which is known as a safe Democratic area, five conservative Republicans ran in the primary in an effort to take over a majority of the school board. Fortunately, all five candidates lost badly.
In New Hanover County, a Wilmington-based PAC endorsed four Republicans in the primary for the board of education, according to CNN.
Wake County, which did not hold a primary on May 17, will have all nine seats up for grabs in November.
“We are seeing a lot more people running and a lot of veteran school board members retiring,” Leanne Winner, executive director of the North Carolina School Boards Association, told CNN. “Many school board meetings became very contentious over the last couple of years.”
School board races across the state are being looked at as referendums on the decisions districts made regarding remote learning and masking during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how districts are handling discussions in their schools around topics such as sex, race, history and gender identity.
Contrary to the small, but loud movement backed by Republican leaders to censor classrooms over “controversial” topics, a majority of Americans reject the idea of banning books about history or race, according to a national poll.
The poll also found that a majority believe that teaching about the history of race in America makes students understand what others went through.
While conservatives may act like the world will fall apart if their children learn about transgender people or racism, the same poll found that 76 percent of parents surveyed said they were well-informed about what their children were being taught in classrooms, including subjects surrounding race, gender identity and sexual orientation.
A number of candidates running in the counties highlighted by CNN cited Critical Race Theory (now a Republican catch-all phrase for “learning anything that reflects poorly on white men in any way”), learning loss due to remote classes during the pandemic and “parental rights” as their reasons for running.
The state Democratic and Republican parties are paying a lot of attention to school board races this year, CNN wrote.
“Education is a huge focus for us at every level,” North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley told CNN. “The pandemic was eye-opening for a lot of parents who got to see what exactly the classroom agenda was while their kids were learning online at home.”
As the Republican Party in North Carolina is attempting to destroy the educational system by getting candidates fueled by hate, ignorance and disinformation elected to school boards, the Democratic Party told CNN they are trying to keep politics out of the races.
“While Republicans attempt to inject politics into the classroom, North Carolina Democrats will continue to fight for the best education possible for our students,” said North Carolina Democratic Party chair Bobbie Richardson in an interview with CNN. “Democratic candidates running for school board across the state understand that we need everyone to work together — parents, teachers and administrators — to create safe, healthy and inspiring schools where our students can reach their fullest potential.”
To see full results from all races across the state, click here to view the North Carolina State Board of Elections results dashboard.