A coalition of educators, families, students and advocacy groups on Thursday urged Minnesota voters to watch out for “extremist” candidates running for local school board seats this fall.
“We are concerned that a toxic national movement is about to sweep into Minnesota school boards, through elections in a dozen key districts, mostly in the suburbs,” Denise Specht, president of the state teachers union Education Minnesota, told reporters.
While it’s a relatively slow year for school board elections in Minnesota, competition and spending over open seats in more than 40 districts is heating up. In some districts, as many as 12 candidates are running for three or four open seats, prompting observers to implore voters to make sure they know the views of the candidates before they vote.
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“We know that hate is on the rise,” said Beth Gendler, executive director of Jewish Community Action, who joined Specht Thursday along with representatives of local parent groups and LGBTQ+ advocates.
“We want Minnesota voters to be aware of what's actually on the ballot in school board races across our state this year,” Gendler said.
Last year’s school board elections saw increases in spending and heightened tensions as parent groups, teacher unions, networks of political donors and families took an increasing interest in schools and school policies.
Several different groups have endorsed school board candidates in this year’s election. The Minnesota Parents Alliance, a conservative group that launched last year, has endorsed more than 40 candidates in 20 different districts. It’s also spent time training candidates.
Education Minnesota has put together a list of dozens of school board candidates endorsed by local unions in 11 districts. OutFront Minnesota has also made candidate endorsements in 17 districts.