All across Kansas, people who never thought they would run for office are seeking election in nonpartisan races for local school boards, city councils, and other local offices. Many of them say they feel compelled to run after seeing how school districts and other local government entities blithely stripped Kansans of their freedoms and prevented their children from getting the education they deserve. Many school boards claimed to be following the science, but they selected which science to follow and which science to ignore.
This swell of new candidates for office isn’t sitting well with entrenched bureaucracies and their allies in media like public radio station KCUR, which says some candidates are unfairly engaging in party politics. Their real objection, however, is not about party affiliation. It’s about a philosophical divide between those who prioritize government interests and those who put taxpayers first.
Those philosophies are not matters of party. The Kansas Freedom Index, for example, routinely shows some Republicans who frequently vote for matters of constitutional liberty and economic freedom and many other Republicans who often vote against those issues.[i]
Teacher unions have long had a major influence on school board elections, and groups like the National Education Association and their local affiliates absolutely have a partisan viewpoint that prioritizes their interests over students’ best interests. Their political action committees fund candidates who share their viewpoints, and the vast majority are Democrats. That is their prerogative, but it is absolutely partisan.
KNEA – the Kansas chapter – infamously opposed legislation, along with the Kansas School Board Association, that would have ensured that children wouldn’t be promoted to the 4th Grade until they could read at grade level. They said it would make the kids feel bad if they were held back. It would also undercut their claim of sky-high student achievement, and they couldn’t let parents see the truth.
By the way, the 2019 state assessment shows Kansas has more high school students below grade level in math and reading than are on track for college and career.
The NEA makes no bones about pushing critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and other propaganda that says the United States is a white supremacist nation and which pits children against each other based on the color of their skin. How is that not partisan?
Special interest groups that put government interests ahead of taxpayers have long held sway over local elections. They want them to be officially declared nonpartisan – meaning no party affiliations are disclosed – because party labels might sway voters.
The faux outrage over partisanship entering local elections is hilariously hypocritical. Some of the indignation comes from organizations that routinely accuse The Sentinel’s owner, Kansas Policy Institute, of being partisan because of their policy beliefs. But they insist that their policy positions are not partisan.
Partisanship may most often be associated with party identity, but it is like ideology at its core. We all have an ideology – a collection of beliefs and ideas – but some people use ‘ideologue’ to criticize someone with whom they disagree…just as they apply a negative connotation to ‘partisan’ while extolling their own partisan ideology or claiming that they ‘just follow the numbers/science/experts.’
Everyone is entitled to their partisan ideology. This is still America, after all. Embrace it and civilly explain your position. But please stop criticizing others for behaving as you do.
[i] The Kansas Freedom Index is published by Kansas Policy Institute, which owns The Sentinel.