Peter Montgomery: The Right-Wing Political Machine Is Out to Take Over School Boards by Fanning Fears of Critical Race Theory
Peter Montgomery, writing at Right Wing Watch, lays out some of the behind-the-scenes work going on among some right wing groups.
The right-wing campaign to stifle teaching and discussion about racism in U.S. history and institutions is fearmongering about critical race theory to mobilize right-wing activists and conservative voters to take over local school boards.
The Leadership Institute, which has trained generations of right-wing activists, is promoting a 20-hour online course to train conservatives how to run for their local school boards in order to “stop the teaching of Critical Race Theory before it destroys the fabric of our nation.” Critical race theory is an academic analytical framework for exploring the existence and impact of systemic racism. Over the past year, the term has been aggressively deployed as a right-wing culture-war weapon that is being used to smear educators and social justice activists. Campaigns against efforts to examine racism in school settings are often combined with attacks on other initiatives to promote inclusion, such as anti-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Right Wing Watch previously reported that Intercessors for America and the Center for Renewing America, the latter run by former Trump administration official Russ Vought, are distributing a toolkit that encourages conservatives to “reclaim” their schools by taking over local school boards through campaigns focused on opposition to critical race theory. The Leadership Institute, with its new course, appears to be following their lead.
An email promoting an online presentation about the Leadership Institute’s new training sessions, which begin on Aug. 9, declares that “conservatives are preparing a school board takeover and you can get involved.” The presentation was made by the Leadership Institute’s director of international trainings Ron Nehring, a protégé of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist who ran as a Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. of California in 2014 and served as a spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“The left has spent many years and vast funding to stack local school boards,” the Leadership Institute’s website claims. “America’s children suffer the effects of this liberal domination every day.” The group adds, “Patriotic Americans must take back the schools.”