When education became a focal point in gubernatorial elections this November, it was no surprise to Keri Rodrigues, president and co-founder of the National Parents Union. Rodrigues had been traveling the country for weeks, meeting with parent advocacy groups in city after city, and working with them to get their grievances heard and addressed by local school boards. The parents she worked with were angry, frustrated and energized.

But these parents, in both their concerns and backgrounds, differed from those to whom politicians seemed to be pandering. While pundits seized upon issues like critical race theory as a driving force in recent election results, Rodrigues talked to parents who just wanted to make sure their kids had a competent bus driver and got a hot school meal. She didn’t see parents angry about culture war issues, but parents who were worried about their kids learning in a safe and inclusive classroom.

“I feel confident when I say the critical race theory stuff is flashy and sexy because people are losing their minds on microphones in meetings, but it’s not what we’re seeing across the country,” said Rodrigues. “We can say with fidelity it’s the transportation crisis, and lack of social-emotional learning.”



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