The School Board Wars, Part 1

Over the past year in the U.S., meetings of the bodies have seen heated fights between parents over the country’s most polarizing issues.

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The School Board Wars, Part 1

Over the past year in the U.S., meetings of the bodies have seen heated fights between parents over the country’s most polarizing issues.

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Nov. 16, 2021, 6:00 a.m. ET

Hosted by Michael Barbaro

Produced by Jessica Cheung and Eric Krupke

With Michael Simon Johnson

Edited by Lisa Tobin

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This episode contains strong language.

Seemingly overnight, a new battleground has emerged in American politics: school boards. In these meetings, parents increasingly engage in heated — sometimes violent — fights over hot-button issues such as mask mandates and critical race theory.

Suddenly, the question of who sits on a school board has become a question about which version of America will prevail. And as money and attention have flowed into local board races, the battle has been taken up on the national stage.

We visit the school board meeting in Central Bucks, Pa., an important county in national politics, where the meetings have been particularly wild.

On today’s episode

Campbell Robertson, a national correspondent for The New York Times.

Image

Making signs outside the Loudoun County Public School Administration Offices prior to a meeting this month in Ashburn, Va.Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

Background reading

Since the spring, a steady tide of school board members across the country have nervously come forward with accounts of threats they have received from enraged local parents.

Republicans are heading into the 2022 midterm elections with what they believe will be a highly effective political strategy capitalizing on the frustrations of suburban parents still reeling from the devastating fallout of pandemic-era schooling.

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Campbell Robertson contributed reporting.

The Daily is made by Lisa Tobin, Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Larissa Anderson, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Austin Mitchell, Neena Pathak, Dan Powell, Dave Shaw, Sydney Harper, Daniel Guillemette, Robert Jimison, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Kaitlin Roberts, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Anita Badejo, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Chelsea Daniel, Mooj Zadie and Rowan Niemisto.

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