School board elections are supposed to be nonpartisan, but this year’s elections became partisan battlegrounds as conservative groups mounted campaigns to train and elect parents with their values to school boards, while Democrats and teachers unions supported their own sets of candidates to oppose them.
As of Friday night with only an estimated 11,000 ballots countywide remaining to be counted, 30 out of the 56 school board candidates in San Diego County endorsed by the local Republican party in contested races had been elected or were ahead in vote results.
About half of the 67 candidates in contested school board races endorsed by Reform California, a conservative political group, were elected or leading. So were 60 percent of the 56 candidates in contested races endorsed by RMNNT, a conservative group affiliated with the Awaken Church that seeks to raise a political “army,” has posted election fraud conspiracy theories and has suggested that families take children out of public schools and home-school them.
“Overall, we’re pleased because we made a lot of progress in, number one, getting candidates this cycle to actually put up to run who are parent-oriented and reform-minded,” said Reform California Chairman Carl DeMaio. “And secondly, the results actually are great in certain school districts where we had concerns.”
The Republican party, Reform California and RMNNT had all made an effort this year to recruit parent candidates to take over school boards, motivated by unhappiness with pandemic school closures, mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the performance of union-backed board leadership. Some candidates endorsed by these groups have also criticized school districts’ racial equity initiatives and programs meant to help LGBTQ students.
In many of the districts where conservative candidates captured seats, registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats. But candidates with conservative backers also scored single seats on some boards in blue-leaning areas, including Chula Vista, Carlsbad and Del Mar.
About half of the 67 candidates in contested school board races endorsed by Reform California, a conservative political group, were elected or leading.
The goals of our School Board Reform Initiative were to recruit, train, mentor and support good candidates for school boards – and support our allies on school boards as they fight for real reform. We aim to do the same in 2024 and beyond! Check out and support our School Board Reform Project below.
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