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The Far Right War on Education


Not that I want you to start your Turkey Day with a long depressing article, though really, what could be more depressing than turkey. But this first hand story about what happened when right-wing extremists took over a large South Carolina school district is really, really depressing.

Two rallying cries of conservative activists in this country right now are banning uncomfortable discussions of history under the guise of “critical race theory” and forbidding students from learning about the existence of trans people. The messaging is clear and consistent from Tucker Carlson’s mouth to your racist cousin’s ears.

Unlike with Statehouse-level legislation, where watchdog groups like ALEC Exposed track the spread of “model legislation” from the American Legislative Exchange Council, we don’t have a robust way of tracking the spread of billionaires’ pet projects at the level of local school boards (Or maybe we do! Let me know if you have a good resource).

Read enough local news and you start to see the patterns, though. Conservative county council and school board members have no qualms about copying and pasting policies from each other.

Earlier this month in South Carolina, the Horry County School Board set aside a “restricted access” section of school libraries where students can’t read books without parental permission. Book bans and “library consideration policies” were on the agenda in Lexington 3 and Beaufort County school districts this week too, borrowing ideas from Florida’s latest book ban laws.

Following the template, Berkeley County’s school board voted last night to approve a similar book-banning regime, effectively overriding policies that were written by the district’s own school librarians last year.Aside from conservative media outlets, a vector for the spread of these policies is faux-grassroots organizations like Moms for Liberty, which now boasts 16 chapters in my state alone according to the Post and Courier. M4L-endorsed candidates just won 6 of 9 school board seats in Berkeley County and 5 of 9 seats in Charleston County where I live.

The only thing I can say is that liberals need to pay way more attention to school boards and just take them over like the right does.

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