Our Kids are COUNTING on US. Stop Extremists.



Stealth candidates aren’t new to Kansas politics. More than 30 years ago Dr. Bob Meneilly, founding Chairman of Mainstream Coalition, warned against the rise of extremists in politics, and specifically of stealth candidates infiltrating our school boards to cause harm to our public schools and communities.

The difference now is that stealth candidates just aren’t as stealthy. When they recite talking points verbatim we can easily track it back to the original source of outside interest groups. Their playbook is public domain for those who care to look. That’s why for an off-year when we typically see around 20% of registered voters turn out, everyone is talking about school board elections. 

You likely don’t need a refresher on the horrendous happenings surrounding school masks, Critical Race Theory, banned books, transgender students, and public school finances at school board meetings. Parents who might in better times volunteer to run an elementary school fundraiser are now loudly threatening school board members during public meetings. It’s amazing that anyone would want to run for our school boards at all right now.

And yet, we do have an abundance of excellent candidates for local school boards this year. There’s been enough ink wasted on those who are, frankly, unqualified puppets cashing in on the emotional chaos wrought by our political system. I don't want to talk about them, or their dark money ties to national groups that have no business being connected to education or students. Instead, I want to talk about those who are the right candidates for our schools, teachers, students, and communities.

These candidates are incumbents who have survived multiple COVID academic years and fight every day for what’s best for our children. They are newcomers who have watched the hatred spewed at school board members and have still decided that they have the passion to help our students. They’re scientists and educators and district graduates who believe in the dignity and rights of every student, teacher, and administrator who enters these schools. 

The right candidates this year will promote policies that prepare our students for success, because they believe that our schools are doing amazing work despite everything that has been thrown at them lately. They will follow best practices regarding public health and safety and bring in innovative, evidence-based programs that promote a diverse and welcoming environment for all students. The right candidates understand that our schools are the heart of our community, and they will do everything they can to build them up, not tear them down.

Take away the divisive rhetoric, escalated rumors, and anonymous comments on social media, and ask yourself what you want out of an elected official in your community. We need elected leaders who listen to public opinion, but also to science and expertise, before making decisions. We need elected leaders who put their constituents, and especially those who have been historically underrepresented, ahead of party politics or outside interests. We need elected leaders who care about our students and teachers and want to build future leaders with critical thinking skills and respect for their neighbor instilled within them.

Dr. Bob knew where we were headed and called on us decades ago to stop it. This election is bringing out some of the nastiest traits in our neighbors and ourselves, and without an intervention, these behaviors are going to continue well past the November 2nd election. The only way to stop the wrong candidates from taking over rational policies that the majority of us support is to call them out and vote to keep them out.

Michael Poppa, Executive Director Mainstream Coalition

Published in the Kansas City Star, Friday, October 29, 2021.

Please vote. Our kids and our communities are counting on us. Find your ballot, and polling place at KSBallot.org and share these graphics to get the word out about the facts of these important school board races. 

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published this page in Blog 2021-10-29 09:46:14 -0500
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