EDUCATION MATTERS: Partisan politics infects school board elections

Marsha Sutton
Marsha Sutton

By Marsha Sutton

Contributor

Need candidates for office – Can you help?

The header on the “urgent call to action” email sent out by the chair of the San Diego County Republican Party delivered its message in unambiguous terms.

In case there was any doubt about the theme, the first sentence amplified the point: “I need your help to field candidates for specific office where an incumbent did not file for re-election, and we don’t have enough (in some cases, any) Republicans running.”

Coming from the chair of the local Republican Party, this plea for more Republican candidates seemed an appropriate call to action. It did, that is, until one read the offices listed in the email for which Republicans were being sought – among them, school board races.

I thought school board races were supposed to be nonpartisan. How naïve of me.

I was brought to my senses after reading all of Republican Party Chair Tony Krvaric’s email blast, wherein he implored recipients to recruit Republican candidates for 40 races county-wide – among them 21 school board races, including the north county school districts of Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, San Dieguito, Cardiff and Carlsbad. The letter was sent Aug. 10, one day before the filing deadline for races where an incumbent chose not to run again.

“The opportunity is tremendous; we can pick up seats and win by default if no one else filed,” the letter continued. “We can make sure that the Democrat who filed has a contest and doesn’t win by default, and – with an incumbent not filing – we have a great chance to win seats.”

Krvaric’s letter concluded with the following statement: “Thank you for helping us put more Republicans in office throughout San Diego County. As you very well know, these offices are stepping stones to higher office, and I’ll be darned if I will sit idly by and allow Democrats to get on these. As a wise man once told me, ‘Little Democrats become big Democrats.’”

When contacted about this email, Krvaric wrote, “We're here to elect Republicans to ALL offices. There are no nonpartisan offices. All offices are opportunities to put Republican ideas of smaller government, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility into action.”

It would be hard to argue with those three particular ideas, not exclusively Republican by the way. It’s the other, more controversial positions endorsed by many ultra-conservatives in the Republican Party that, when applied to school districts and children, are more problematic.

School boards are no place for partisan politics. Remember the debacle the past two years over Obama’s innocuous speech to school children at the start of school, asking them to work hard and be good citizens? You would have thought he was asking each child to join the Communist Party, the way conservatives protested.

The Republican agenda has at times included such far-right ideology as the promotion of creationism over evolution in biology classes, distortion of historical facts in textbooks, censorship of English literature and library books, prayer and religious activity in school, questionable First Amendment rights positions, anti-gay views and undue interference in health and sex education classes.

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