Republicans Pushing to Make School Board Races Partisan

Republicans Pushing to Make School Board Races Partisan Republicans Pushing to Make School Board Races Partisan Journalists and participants wear face masks as they crowd together to photograph former President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump during a meeting with students, teachers and administrators about how to safely re-open schools during the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

By Theodore Bunker | Wednesday, 29 December 2021 01:57 PM

Republicans in state legislatures across the country are pushing to change local school board races to include political party affiliations for candidates, Politico reports.

Legislators in Tennessee last October approved a ballot measure allowing school board candidates to add their party affiliation to the ballot, while Missouri and Arizona are currently considering making comparable moves. Florida Republicans plan to make an attempt to pass a similar measure in the next legislative session.

Politico notes that many education officials in Florida actively opposed or defied Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies on mask mandates and other issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that added political affiliations to school board ballots could lead to a movement to oust those who push back against the governor.

"We’re out there trying to elect good conservatives that will follow essentially the governor’s mission as it relates to education," Florida state Sen. Joe Gruters, a Republican who chairs the state’s education committee and heads the Republican Party of Florida, told Politico.

"When you have a leader like DeSantis come out and say that there should be no lockdowns, if you have a Republican elected official, you would think they would probably give him the consideration and probably go along with what he asked," he added.

"There’s a major underestimation nationwide, even on the political side, that these parents are really frustrated," said Bridget Ziegler, a school board member in Sarasota County whose husband, Christian Ziegler, is vice chair of the Florida Republican Party.

Education professor Martin West of the Harvard Graduate School of Education told Politico that making school board races partisan could cause the current combative political climate to grow even more divided.

"I do think party labels would produce more informed voters," West said. "But, at the same time, it would likely accelerate an emerging trend of nationalization of local education politics."

Original Article