Across the nation, parents are rising up to take back their school districts. Here’s my story.
I ran for a seat on the Virginia Beach School Board in 2016, a presidential election year, which made it very difficult to get attention as a down-ballot candidate. That was before COVID-19, of course, and most people knew—or care to know—nothing about the elected position of school board. When passing out my literature to voters on Election Day, I approached people with the question, “Have you made your choice for school board?”
A very common response was, “I don’t have kids in school, so I’m not voting for school board.” When I pointed out that the school board was responsible for managing nearly half of the city’s tax dollars, that response would usually get voters’ attention.
The other problem we faced back then was a lack of high-quality candidates. People were hardly lining up at the Department of Elections office battling to get on the ballot for school board. If a person had a pulse, met the legal qualifications to run, and said “yes,” then they became the candidate.
In the 2016 election, most people held an apathetic view about school board elections. But that has all changed since COVID-19 virtual learning put classrooms in the middle of the family living room and parents became more engaged in what their children were being taught.
Fast forward to 2023: School board elections are not just an afterthought for voters, and quality candidates are stepping up to run. Across the nation, contributions made to school board candidates and the number of candidates running in these races are rapidly increasing.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, there has been a 66 percent increase in the amount of funds raised for school board races in the last four years in Virginia. In school board races in Minnesota this year, there was an increase in the number of candidates and the amount of money pouring into the races, 200 candidates filed to run for 100 open seats.
Why is it important to pay attention to school board elections?
There are many reasons to be informed about the people running for the office of local school board. First, some use the position as a springboard to run for state or national level office because it can provide name recognition. So if the person you’re supporting for local office isn’t someone you would ever want to have represent you at the state or national level—don’t support them.
Perhaps the most important reason to pay attention is that these elected representatives can have great influence over what is taught to the future generation in taxpayer-funded schools. In most states, school boards approve the curriculum that is taught, what superintendent and staff are hired, and how taxpayer dollars will be spent. They have broad power to implement policies and regulations that align with their view (if the policies are not in violation of state or federal law.)
Policies that have been passed by far-left, radical school boards include permitting minor children to view sexually explicit books in schools without parent knowledge, hiding gender identity issues from parents, helping students to socially transition their gender at schools, and permitting boys to use girls’ locker rooms—all have been adopted by school boards across the nation.
How to create change on school boards
It is important for every voter to treat school board elections as the most important choice on the ballot. To make an impact people need to get involved; and there are many ways to do this.
Elections cannot be won without money—so consider a large donation to your favorite school board candidate. Door-knocking may not be a pleasant task for some, but it may be one of the most effective methods of winning an election. While there will be people who won’t answer the door, many voters are very pleased that a candidate or their volunteers care enough to speak with them individually.
In a recent election in my city, a Republican school board candidate faced an up-hill battle in a 70 percent Democrat district. She knocked on every door possible and won that school board seat by simply showing that she cared and listened to what the voters thought was important.
Spread the word by sharing a candidate’s flyer with everyone you know. Simply take a picture of the brochure and text it to your entire contact list—and ask them to share it with at least 10 friends.
Finally, if there isn’t another candidate running who will stand up for parental rights and prevent children from being indoctrinated in leftist ideology—consider running for office yourself! Many organizations, such as the Leadership Institute, offer candidate training for school board elections and can provide you with the resources needed to run a successful campaign.
The future of our nation is being impacted by the radical Left’s agenda being pushed into our nation’s schools. The education establishment has become a social services organization rather than one intended to educate children in the basic foundations of reading, writing, math, history, and most importantly—in critical thinking.
It isn’t too late to take back the leftist grasp on public education, but we must start fighting now. Please be sure to vote in your city or town’s next school board election!
Victoria Manning is the vice president of Students First VA and an elected member of the Virginia Beach School Board