San Jose Spotlight’s recent article on MAGA school board candidates provided valuable help to voters in our community by identifying the local embodiment of the national, far-right movement to have candidates infiltrate local school boards, including those right here in Silicon Valley.
Over the past two years, a local Republican group recruited candidates to run for school board and use code words and euphemisms such as “Critical Race Theory,” “parents’ rights,” and “school safety” to oppose fact-based teaching about race and ethnicity; research-based social and emotional learning; age-appropriate sex education; and rules and practices that ensure a safe and accepting environment for LGBTQ+ kids.
Some of these candidates and online commenters have objected to use of the term “infiltrate” to describe their effort. But it’s entirely appropriate because the group mentioned above offered training sessions that included specific instruction on how to hide the candidate’s true intentions by not mentioning their agenda when speaking to a general audience.
A recent op-ed by Robert Varich, a Campbell Union High School District trustee running for reelection, provides an example of such obfuscation.
Varich protested that Union School District candidate Zoila Rollins only “wants some level of parental oversight over textbooks,” which almost sounds reasonable until you realize the same rationale has been used to ban books in schools and libraries throughout the country. A review of Rollins’ website reveals further extreme views, including that she opposes the sex education curriculum because it “embraces a view of multiple genders” and she also opposes all social and emotional learning. LGBTQ+ kids, parents, teachers and staff deserve to have their gender and sexuality acknowledged and accepted, and all students and the broader community benefit from social and emotional learning at school.
These candidates and the organizations supporting them have a right to hold their minority point of view, but they’re not consistent with our community’s values of diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Ignore the orchestrated negative comments I anticipate will appear below. Do your own research, and vote only for candidates who share your values.
I’m confident that if Santa Clara County voters know who these candidates are and what they really stand for, they will choose to vote for people who truly reflect our community values for their local school boards.
Bill James is chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.