Colorado school board contests, stoked by COVID, draw intense partisan fervor and big money |

Colorado school board contests, stoked by COVID, draw intense partisan fervor and big money

Coronavirus measures, teaching on race motivate national groups, wealthy individuals and both Republican and Democratic parties to get involved in local races across the state

Sandra Fish, Nancy Lofholm and Erica Breunlin
The Colorado Sun

DENVER — While school boards are technically nonpartisan, the lines in many contests are clear.

Teachers unions, church groups and other special interests have joined the Democratic and Republican parties in endorsing candidates. Mask and vaccine mandates, critical race theory and even the 2020 election results are among topics up for debate, according to the groups’ candidate questionnaires.

The phenomenon echoes a nationwide trend of contentious, well-funded school board contests — mired in policy disputes around the coronavirus pandemic and the social justice movement — and comes after frequently disruptive school board meetings where community members complained about mask rules and vaccine requirements. “Saturday Night Live” even parodied a raucous school board meeting in its season-opening show earlier this month. Many of those criticizing mask and vaccine rules are parents, some of whom are stepping up to run for open board seats, seeking to repeal coronavirus rules from within.

Kim Langley is one parent running for a board seat in Summit School District. She’s banded together with three other women who call themselves the “4 For the Kids” slate. She describes the group — three moms and a grandmother — as grassroots and as being concerned with academics and budget issues in the mountain district. But she also said she wished politics were less evident in school.

She has concerns over how issues around social justice and gender identity are incorporated into coursework, insisting it’s “the job of the parents” to teach kids about those issues at home. Teachers, she said, think they have the right to “almost raise our kids for us.”

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