Last Tuesday’s non-partisan spring general election provided one big lesson for Wisconsin: parents are catching on to what is happening in public schools. Conservative school board candidates had a banner night on Tuesday, winning all the available seats in Wausau, Manitowoc, Waukesha, Menomonee Falls, Elm Brook New Berlin, Mukwonago, Kewaskum, West Bend, and Germantown, just to name a few. Conservatives made gains across the state by displacing incumbent liberals and also flipping county boards and city councils, in addition to school boards.
In Brown County, three of the seven candidates Wisconsin Family Action PAC endorsed won; and in Kenosha County, conservatives flipped the county board and also won three seats on the School Board. Cedarburg School District saw three conservatives win four available seats. In Wausau, which last year flipped its board from liberal to conservative, gained another conservative as two conservative incumbents won and another conservative was added.
Education has been a major issue in elections since last year when Terry McAuliffe, Democrat candidate for governor of Virginia, said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” He lost the Virginia governor’s race because of that rare moment of honesty. Shortly after that, President Biden’s education secretary, Miguel Cardona, was asked if he thought parents are the primary stakeholder in their children’s education. He responded that they were “a stakeholder,” but refused to say they were the primary stakeholder.
Then earlier this year, right here in Wisconsin, we had Representative Lee Snodgrass, a Democrat from Appleton, tweet, “If parents want to ‘have a say’ in their child’s education, they should home school or pay for private school tuition out of their family budget.” Well, it turns out that last Tuesday, parents got to have a say after all.
The tone deafness coming from the left about our children’s education continues, however. Many public school districts in Wisconsin are still trying to put parents in the back seat of their children’s education. Right now, two lawsuits are underway, one against the Metropolitan Madison School District and the Kettle Moraine School District. Parents in both districts bought the lawsuits to protect their rights to know significant information about their children and to have their requests respected when it comes to the gender identity and gender expression of their children while at school.
Both school districts have been purposefully keeping important information from parents or simply disregarding their stated desires. In fact, the Madison School District has actually told school personnel to lie to parents about a child’s gender expression at school. This lawsuit will have oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme Court this week. The court could rule on the substance of the case, or they could issue an opinion on narrower issues, including whether the anonymity of the parents should be maintained. I would think we would hear from the court relatively soon on this case. Both of these cases have huge implications across the country, and both are being closely watched by experts across the country.
And, of course, we have Eau Claire, where teachers were recently told in a training session that parents have to earn the right to know about their child’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Unfortunately, the school board candidates who blew the whistle on this training all lost last Tuesday.
This election, like all elections, will have consequences. Citizens, including involved parents, who put conservatives into office all across the state last week now face a challenge: will they stay engaged with their local officials to help shape and ensure the consequences, or will they think they’ve now done their duty and go home?
Actually, the real work has just now begun. Getting people elected is easier than helping to hold them accountable, encouraging them, and faithfully praying for them once they get in office. The gains made in this recent election can be very easily lost if people don’t take seriously their full responsibility as active participants in this representative government.
School officials are going to do everything they can to try to convince the new conservative board members that there’s “nothing to see here,” when it comes to Critical Race Theory, sexual orientation and gender identity policies and practices, and more. They’ll be polished and persuasive, and if board members let down their guard, they can be easily sucked in. That’s why parents especially need to stay engaged and alert.
We all must remember on a regular basis that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing—including resting on one’s laurels after solid election victories. Parents having more say in their child’s education involves way more than an election. That’s just the beginning.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
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