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Politico has analyzed the success of New Jersey school board candidates who espoused platforms decrying Covid-masking and vaccination policies and LGBTQ-inclusive student learning standards. The results (behind a paywall): while “tracking right-wing wins is an imperfect science,” far-right candidates had some success but there was no “red wave.”
According to the NJ Schools Boards Association there were 1,569 open school board seats and 2,151 candidates running this year — a ratio of 1.37 candidates to available seats. Forty-two percent of candidates were incumbents and 660 seats were uncontested. Politico also factored in information from the New Jersey Project’s database associated with “NJ Fresh Faced Schools,” a far-right network that advocates against Covid mitigation mandates, including masking and vaccination, as well as LGBTQ-inclusive curricula and comprehensive sex education. The group had issued a list of 194 “preferred” candidates.
Politico collated that list with each county’s election results and found 117 school board candidates with right-wing stances on curriculum standards, Covid mitigation strategies and “parental rights” were voted into office earlier this month.
The analysis notes that the state teachers union, NJEA, “was also pouring money and influence into district races,” particularly candidates who favor policies that emphasize LGBTQ-inclusion, Covid mitigation, and what some call “Critical Race Theory.” From Politico: “The New Jersey Project’s endorsed candidates beat out NJEA-backed candidates, including in Wayne, the district where NJEA President Sean Spiller taught, Sparta and Ringwood.” Moms for Liberty, which opposes LGBTQ-themed books in school libraries, “ recently celebrated ‘flipping’ the Cape May school board to favor “parental rights” candidates.”
Alyssa Bowen, managing editor and senior researcher from True North Research, a progressive national watchdog group that tracks dark money and corporate influence in politics, said that while right-wing school board candidates did not sweep New Jersey races, groups like The New Jersey Project and Moms For Liberty are ‘trying to play up their success’ in order to boost fundraising for future races. ‘I don’t think this is going to end here,’ Bowen said, noting national conservative groups are working hard to bolster local PACs. ‘That infrastructure is going to grow.’