August 10, 2021

Why school boards are now hot spots for nasty politics

Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

Shouting. Interruptions. Delays. Even police arrests.

In just a few months, the most local of all local forms of American governance—the school board—has been beset with drama. Board meetings, far from being quiet, by-the-books affairs, have turned into to ground zero of the nation’s political and cultural debates.

All the while, school boards’ work has become more visible than ever, with meetings that once were only in person now often livestreamed and archived on YouTube.

What all this means yet for school district governance isn’t entirely clear. But it will almost certainly complicate board members’ and superintendents’ jobs this fall. They’ll need to balance conceptual debates over race and equity with the tangible responsibilities of spending significant amounts of federal cash and adjusting yet again to a rise in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant.

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