There was a time when school board contests were often overlooked on the ballot. Those times are gone, as school boards, like everything else, have become highly politicized. The right-wing Return to Learn group, active in our county, says, “Beware of the school board candidate with an activist agenda,” meaning what they often refer to as “Marxist” agendas, not right-wing agendas. Republican candidates consistently invoke “parents’ rights,” code for allowing parents to ban books and restrict the curriculum to match their own beliefs.

In the nine school boards in Washtenaw County, particularly in the smaller districts, numerous right-wing candidates are vying for school board seats, and they know better than to state outright what their priorities are.  Darcy Berwick of Saline says that “in the rural districts, there’s a clear, concerted effort to use language that appears to be accepting and inclusive, but it’s not truly reflective of the actions candidates have taken.”

Berwick, who has been volunteering with Saline schools since her daughter was in kindergarten, has created a PAC to fight back. The Michigan Majority PAC aims to “help elect school board candidates who want to create diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accepting schools, who value educators and other experts, and who will work respectfully with our schools and our community.”

Berwick says she would have created the PAC even if the political controversies didn’t exist. “I would still be doing this to support qualified candidates,” she says. “Campaigns are not cheap, and they’re time-intensive. It’s hard to get the word out.” She is hoping to raise $25,000 to allow progressive candidates for the smaller boards to be competitive.  “We will support anyone who is qualified and will advocate for all our students, including the marginalized and most vulnerable.”

Read more about the PAC here and please donate what you can here. And, of course, VOTE!