Friday, September 9, 2022

The Midterm Power of Parents - WSJ

Ms. Murray did nothing to diffuse the frustration during a train wreck of a Sunday CNN interview, in which she refused to criticize school shutdowns. “Was it a mistake to keep children home from school so long during the pandemic?” she was asked. Ms. Murray excused the “local school officials” and “our scientific experts,” who she said were trying “to protect their children” from a pandemic “that was killing millions of Americans” (the official U.S. death toll is slightly over one million).

Ms. Smiley responded by highlighting the steep learning losses and releasing her own reform plan, which would expand school choice for low-income families, provide curriculum transparency, and reroute some U.S. Education Department dollars to higher teacher pay. The broader Smiley message is that educators need to get back to teaching “the basics” rather than “divisive” topics—a sentiment that polls show resonates loudly with parents across the political spectrum.

The question: Where’s the rest of the party? Republican Glenn Youngkin proved the power of furious parents a year ago, when he channeled anger over Covid school policies into an unexpected Virginia gubernatorial win. And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis re-highlighted the potency of that voting bloc this year, turning a fight over sexual ideology in the classroom and school choice into a GOP advantage. Mr. DeSantis only a few weeks ago used continued parental anger—and his endorsements—to help flip control of several large school boards that had put unions ahead of kids.


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