School board elections may shape future of 2024 political landscape

(NewsNation) — Voters will cast ballots across the U.S. for local and state races Tuesday — including 8,750 school board seats across 28 states.

School board elections have become the focus of substantial political spending in swing states, and these elections may serve as an indicator of how the political landscape for the 2024 elections will take shape.

Americans have witnessed national debates unfold within local school boards since the pandemic, involving disputes about mask mandates, school closures, restroom policies and book bans.

Now, an unusual influx of political action committees are channeling funds into school board races which are typically reserved for presidential and congressional campaigns.

All eyes will be on the school board races in Virginia and Pennsylvania with Tuesday’s elections anticipated to witness a record voter turnout.

In Pennsylvania, both conservative and liberal political action committees are funneling substantial funds into school board races, aiming to secure their support in preparation for the 2024 elections.

One of those groups, Moms for Liberty, said it’s advocating for families to have the ultimate decision-making power in their children’s education.

“The real issue here is you think you should protect children from their parents, I reject that notion,” said a Moms for Liberty parent. “Parents as a whole are more trustworthy than any government entity.”

“Let’s face it, there’s been a lot of stress and a lot of things that happened in the country over the last few years. So, what we’re seeing is voters and organizers and parents and people who normally wouldn’t consider themselves political, paying attention, getting involved, and speaking up to make changes in their community,” explained Dominique James, a political consultant.

A similar battle played out in Virginia, where in 2021, a dispute over restroom policies led to the arrest of Scott Smith, who alleged that his daughters had been sexually assaulted in a bathroom by a student who he claimed was pretending to be transgender.

These disputes over parents’ rights in schools played a significant role in propelling Virginia Gov. Glen Youngkin into office in Virginia last year.

“The law of the land is that parents get to decide whether their child wears a mask in school or not and that will not change. I encourage all school divisions and all parents to be aware of what was accomplished last year that gave parents the ability to make that decision,” Youngkin said.

With the 2024 presidential and congressional elections still one year away, both sides hope that solidifying their support at the school board level will give them an advantage and help sway the balance in their favor.

“We’ll want to pay attention and understand that the messaging and the conversation and these very intentional strategic culture wars that are happening, they are going to influence the conversation, and what we’ll see play out in November,” James said.

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