LETTER: Vote against the growing ‘conservative influence on school district agendas’

August 27, 2023

To the editor:

As a former public school teacher and long-time volunteer political activist in Anoka County, nothing scares me more right now than the growing conservative influence on school district agendas and in school board elections, especially in Anoka-Hennepin District 11.

Anoka-Hennepin has School Board elections this fall, in Districts 1, 2 and 5. While Erin Heers-McArdle, who has been an invaluable board member standing up for the rights of disabled students, seeks re-election in the Anoka area district, two of her fellow board members, from Blaine and the Brooklyn Park-Brooklyn Center areas, are retiring this year.

The Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance, which has one current Board ally in District 4’s Matt Audette, are showing support on their Facebook page for the three conservative candidates in all three races. (Editor’s note, school board races are officially nonpartisan).

Teachers and parents must be partners in the education of our Anoka-Hennepin students, but teachers are the trained professionals in charge of their classrooms, while parents’ greatest responsibility is to support the teachers and their children at home and in extra-curricular activities. School administrators and specialists are the professional experts in charge of school direction and curricular choices.

I fear a group that sees parents and other residents as having a greater responsibility for our schools than is their traditional role.

We’ve seen and read of school boards taken over by the radical right, attacking the books selected by the professional school personnel, attacking the books in the library, attacking teachers who espouse a “too liberal” curriculum, attacking schools that are open and affirming of their gay, lesbian and transgender students, and attacking the teachers unions that protect their members under state and national labor laws. I’ve witnessed Anoka-Hennepin Board meetings with a constant flow of anti-school, uninformed, hysterical right-wing propaganda from the mouths of area residents and parents.

I will be working this fall to support candidates that will not ban books, will not bring homophobic attitudes, will not embrace the falsehoods of the anti-critical race theory advocates, and will not be on a constant attack of the superb professional administrators and teachers in Anoka-Hennepin School District.

Wes V.