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Guilford School Board Races Highlight Contrast Between Far-Right-Backed Republican And Equity-Driven Democrat Candidates

Source: Triad City Beat

A slate of Republican school board candidates are running on extremist platforms against Democrats for control of Guilford County’s school board. Currently, five seats on the Guilford County Board of Education are up for grabs, with six seats held by Democrats and three by Republicans.

All the Republican school board candidates are backed by a far-right education group known as Take Back Our Schools. Amid Republicans’ campaign against LGBTQ+ students, educators, censoring classrooms and challenging books, groups like TBOS have helped spread this attack on education, and have gone so far as to support candidates who share similar extremist views. 

According to the Triad City Beat, TBOS has elevated anti-CRT sentiments, protested masking at school board meetings, and threatened the past school superintendent. Unsurprisingly, the group is backed by and has campaigned with Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who has become a microphone for anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-CRT efforts

Demetria Carter, the Republican candidate for the at-large district in Guilford, has centered anti-CRT as her key issue; despite public schools never teaching CRT and the fact that it is not part of the county’s curriculum. According to an interview with Triad City Beat, Carter does not have a background in education and denies that books have been banned.

Yet, according to data from PEN America, more than 2,500 books have been banned in the US just in the last year, with LGBTQ+-themed and BIPOC-centered books receiving the most bans. 

Crissy Pratt is another Republican backed by TBOS and has spread false claims about CRT being taught in Guilford County schools. While Tim Andrew, along with Pratt, and Welborn, is endorsed by the NC Values Coalition, a group that has led the charge to ban books in several schools.

Longtime incumbent, Linda Welborn, is also backed by TBOS and has built a reputation for voting against funding for Guilford schools. According to Triad City Beat, Welborn also criticized masking measures; going so far as to make false claims that resulted in TBOS making threats against the superintendent.

In stark contrast, Democratic candidates Ian Sherouse, Amanda Cook, Deon Clark and Khem Irby have all underscored their commitment to education equity, supporting educators, and pushing forth investments to address longstanding unmet needs in Guilford County schools. 

According to Ian Sherouse’s campaign site, the faith leader is focused on addressing the graduation gap between Black and white students, improving school infrastructures, supporting LGBTQ+ students, parents, and educators, hiring more support staff, along with ensuring students are able to learn an honest account of our history. 

Much like Sherouse, Deon Clark comes from a faith background too but has been active in the school system. Clark has served as president and vice president of the local PTA and is hoping to address the rise of teacher and staff shortages, mental health resources, and pass well-deserved funding for school facilities.

Amanda Cook, who has garnered a wealth of experience as an educator, has built a reputation for centering racial equity in her teaching. Cook is focused on tackling staff shortage issues and building a better relationship between educators, families, and the school board.

Out of all the Democrat candidates, Khem Irby has the most experience in fighting back against the far-right education group Take Back Our Schools. During her time on the school board since 2018, has pushed forth closing the gap between inequities within the school district. Irby also has remained committed to supporting LGBTQ+ students, and families, and has pushed back against extremist views prompted by Republicans.

With this year’s midterm election taking place on Nov. 8, and early voting running from Oct. 20 through Nov. 5, Guilford voters will have the opportunity to choose between equity-driven candidates or extremist candidates to lead the school board in the coming years.

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