U.S. schools have emerged as a key political battleground.
Numerous fights are being waged coast-to-coast, as conservatives and progressives battle over controversial lessons and policies, including the teaching of critical race theory, and drag queen performances at schools, often without parental consent or knowledge.
One of the key ways many have sought to redress the indoctrination of students into ideas and concepts inconsistent with the basic goals of the education system — reading, writing, arithmetic — is to take over local school boards, which often have a great deal of influence on policy and curriculum.
This year is primed to be ripe for competition, as thousands of school board seats are up for re-election in more than half the states in the U.S.
Over 24,000 school board seats in 35 states are up for election in 2023, according to information released by Ballotpedia.
“The approximately 24,100 seats represent 36 percent of the 66,831 total school board seats in the 35 states holding elections in 2023,” Ballotpedia says. “Most districts have half or one-third of seats up for election in 2023, and others have a quarter or one-fifth of seats up.”
In 25 states, more than 90 percent of school districts will hold regular school board elections.
As Ballotpedia notes, across the U.S., school board elections are held on one of three schedules: annually, every two years during odd-numbered years, or a combination of districts with annual or odd-year elections and districts with even-year elections.
“Most districts have half or one-third of seats up for election in 2023, and others have a quarter or one-fifth of seats up,” Ballotpedia adds.
Data provided by the organization shows that since 2018, the number of school board seats held by incumbents has seen a decline, indicating that efforts by parents to disrupt the status quo and wedge their way into these positions may be working.
Education is a top issue for candidates headed into the 2024 election cycle, with numerous states and congressional officials proposing parental rights bills that would give parents more control of what children are being taught in schools.