Concerns mount over 'extreme' school board candidates in MN
Friday, September 29, 2023
Nearly 100 school board elections are coming up in Minnesota this fall, with some gaining attention because of the candidates who are running. There's concern the push around the United States to infuse school boards with "culture war" issues is becoming a factor regionally.
On Thursday, labor and advocacy groups gathered to speak out about certain board races, mainly in the Twin Cities suburbs, and how some candidates have controversial platforms, such as limiting curriculum about race.
Denise Specht, president of the teacher's union Education Minnesota, said the movement isn't just being observed in states such as Florida. She said book-ban attempts are popping up here, as well.
"In the Bloomington public schools, there are more than 50 challenges to 30 titles in the school libraries already this year," she said. "Most of them are books with LGBTQ+ characters, which fits the national trend."
A school board candidate in Roseville faces scrutiny for writing a book that denies the Holocaust ever happened. The candidate, Vaughn Klingenberg, did not respond to a request for comment. Parent groups that support candidates with divisive views argue that students are being overly exposed to issues such as gender identity and diversity, and that the focus should be on achievement.
Beth Gendler, executive director of Jewish Community Action, pushed back against state-level affiliations such as the Minnesota Parents Alliance, that say voters need to tune out the concerns being raised.
"We are portrayed as threats to society by merely existing, or daring to ask that our stories be included when students are taught about history," she said. "We are not 'noise;' we are not a distraction."
Unlike conservative led-states, Minnesota's Democratic majorities make it unlikely that restrictions on curriculum or gender accommodations will be adopted in the near future. But the coalition calling attention to these candidates has said if elected, it could push to limit local enforcement of anti-bullying laws.
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