Josh Kraushaar in a recent National Journal column points out the Democrats' very real vulnerabilities in the education area:
"Culture wars" has become a shorthand term for a series of issues that drive passionate debate but have little day-to-day relevance on the lives of Americans [like Dr. Seuss books, etc.]....
But another front of the culture wars doesn’t neatly fit that mold. The increasingly heated debates over education—ranging from the slow pace of school openings to curricular changes to the elimination or rollback of gifted-and-talented programs for top students—are now galvanizing political issues at the local level and becoming relevant nationally as well. And unlike the evanescent nature of made-for-cable-TV policy fights, the disruptive changes driven by left-wing activists directly affect every parent with school-age children.
Republicans were slow to appreciate the political potency of these issues, but it’s now a central part of party messaging....
Even liberals are warning about the likelihood of a backlash if Democrats fail to rein in the excesses of their activist class. “On education, the steady march of ‘anti-racist’ ideology into curricula of not just elite private schools but now public schools will generate a backlash among normie parents that the administration is studiously ignoring,” wrote progressive-minded political analyst Ruy Teixeira. “The administration is doing nothing to head off this impending culture war in the schools because to do so would bring the wrath of the stridently woke sector of the Democratic Party down upon Biden’s head.”
Kraushaar goes on to discuss findings from a recent poll by Parents Defending Education, a new group formed in opposition to overtly ideological curricula in the schools. The poll, conducted by Competitive Edge Research, a Republic-leaning market research firm, should be treated as an advocacy poll. But that does not mean the findings are wrong, merely that they should be treated with caution and, one hopes, clarified by further research. The questions, at any rate, are fairly straightforward and, in my view, are getting at genuine public discomfort with developments in school curricula. That said, here is the summary of their findings:
* 70% of respondents said it is not important or not at all important for schools to “teach students that their race is the most important thing about them” versus 25% who said this is somewhat or very important.
* 74% said they opposed teaching students that white people are inherently privileged and black and other people of color are inherently oppressed. Only 6% of respondents favored schools assigning white students the status of “privileged” and non-white students the status of “oppressed” – versus 88% opposed, including 78% strongly opposed.
* 69% opposed schools teaching that America was founded on racism and is structurally racist.
* 75% oppose teaching there is no such thing as biological sex, and that people should choose whatever gender they prefer for themselves. Only 18% supported teaching such concepts.
* 80% oppose the use of classrooms to promote political activism to students, including 64% who strongly oppose.
* When asked whether teachers should present students with multiple perspectives on contentious political and social issues, 87% agreed, compared to 6% who believe teachers should present one perspective that the school believes is correct.
* When asked whether their local K-12 school has increased or decreased its emphasis on issues of race, gender, and activism in the last two years, 52% said it had increased a lot or a little. Only 2% said it had decreased. Similarly, 57% said their local schools had become more political, with only 4% saying less political.
The warning signs here for Democrats are abundant. The topline is on the web and can be consulted for full question wording and results.