About 15 years ago, Minnesota was dealing with a bunch of ignorant radicals who were packing school boards, and had even captured the position of educational commissioner in the form of Cheri Yecke. It was ugly. I was attending school board meetings that featured train of young earth creationists standing up to parrot nonsense…but, fortunately, we also had genuine grass roots people standing up to oppose them. We’ve still got wretched right wingers filling school boards, but at least I think we totally crushed the creationist insurgence here, and Yecke is long gone.
Now, though, the US (not so much Minnesota) is dealing with another group of astro-turfing assholes, Moms for Liberty. There are signs that they are getting desperate. Would you believe Moms for Liberty was trying to build a claque to attend a school board meeting? They were recruiting “talented clappers” to pack the audience.
#BucksCounty GOPers are desperately recruiting "Talented Clappers" to support @PennridgeSD far-right school board majority, @Vermilion_Edu & newly proposed Hillsdale 1776 curriculum b/c they're all overwhelmingly unpopular. *And no worries if you don't have to live in district🤡* pic.twitter.com/05a04aZbDO
— BucksCountyBeacon (@BucksCoBeacon) August 25, 2023
It’s not working.
What’s happening instead is that the general public is getting fired up. They hate those arrogant Karens. They’ve recently won school board elections, but like the creationists, as word gets around, the public rises up and notices and starts firing back.
Most of the attendees saw that appeal as a minor victory, or at least as evidence that they were gaining ground in the battle for control over the school district — one of hundreds of similar battles unfolding all over the country. Yes, the Pennridge school board was dominated by far-right members, one of whom had been present in Washington for Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally-turned-riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Yes, at least five of the nine board members were linked to Moms for Liberty, a right-wing “astroturf” organization that has orchestrated a national campaign to remake public education along arch-conservative and anti-intellectual lines. But Pennridge board meetings for months had been dominated by outraged parents speaking out against the Moms for Liberty incursion and the board majority’s apparent agenda. Conservative forces were sufficiently worried about the optics, it appeared, that they were eager to pull in “talented clappers” from outside the community.
A tightly packed group of Moms for Liberty supporters did indeed show up, huddled together in a few rows of seats. Their mood could best be described as “glowering.” These were not exactly the “joyful warriors” that Moms for Liberty proudly proclaims fights on their behalf. That term would better fit the majority of attendees at Pennridge High that night, who needed no coaxing to whoop and applaud as one speaker after another took the mic, defending the basic freedom to read whatever books one wants, and denouncing the ahistorical and misleading curriculum that conservative board members wanted to force upon the district’s teachers.
This is news that gives me a little optimism. I think the public at large wants to do what is right, even as a minority of hateful, motivated scumbags exploit the system to secure some degree of power. Temporarily.