How Political Organizers Are Channeling Parents’ Education Frustration

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Clarice Schillinger, who lives in the Philadelphia suburbs, wasn’t shocked when Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s election, riding parents’ anxieties and grievances with schools. She claims to have seen the writing on the wall.

“I hope the Virginia race really woke an up a lot of people and said, OK, there is still a groundswell of parents,” Schillinger said.

Tensions in school board meetings around the country highlight the political contrasts that are currently playing out in public schools, from fights over the teaching of critical race theory to the enforcement of mask and vaccine mandates.

But, beyond the weekly fireworks and Virginia, there’s a common thread that binds many parents together: a sense of being forgotten.

According to an early September USA Today/Ipsos study, 55 percent of parents felt their children fell behind due of virtual learning during the coronavirus outbreak. And some of them point the finger at school districts, teacher unions, and politicians.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of parents are organizing on Facebook to keep schools open.

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 48 percent of parents believe they should have a large role in what their kid’s teacher teaches.

Keri Rodrigues is the president of the National Parents Union, an organization that works to strengthen the voices of parents.

According to Rodrigues, a long-time Democratic organizer in Massachusetts, CRT and other politicized topics serve as a diversion from the origins of more prevalent parental problems, such as school closures, transportation difficulties, anxiety and despair, and student quarantines due to Covid-19.

Read More: Florida Republicans Pass Bill Setting Stage For Clash With Biden Over Vaccine Rules

“They are totally correct in stating that we are enraged. They’re completely incorrect about what we’re truly upset about “Rodrigues explained. “I would say that 90 to 95 percent of the parents I spoke with are profoundly furious, deeply frustrated, and deeply afraid, because they witnessed the catastrophic failure of our public school system in their living rooms with their own two eyes.”

“It’s because we shuttered schools and didn’t trust public health professionals and scientists to tell us when to reopen them,” she explained. “It’s the reality that Democrats have chosen to listen to special interest organizations rather than their voters at this time… The majority of parents I’ve spoken with are just unwilling to back down and think that the system would be able to take it from here.”

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