In addition to being the seat of state government, Wake County is also home to North Carolina’s largest public school system. Wake County public schools serve roughly 160,000 students – just about 20,000 more than its closest competitor, Mecklenburg county (making it the 14th largest in the entire United States). With 31 high schools, 38 middle schools, 119 elementary schools that are run by more than 20,000 teachers and staff, the Wake County school system is a major operation.
Public education is one of the most sacred responsibilities that we entrust to our public officials. The education of the next generation of North Carolinians is a serious endeavor, which deserves similarly serious and knowledgeable leadership. Unfortunately, North Carolina’s public schools – like those around the country – have recently experienced an unrelenting assault from right-wing culture warriors seeking little more than a toehold of power and a microphone. Many of these people do not care about, or even fundamentally believe in, public education at all. Indeed, their stated goal is to tear down our schools – not to make them better.
To this end, Carolina Forward is proud to announce our slate of endorsements for the Wake County school board. We are confident that this group of education leaders will help make North Carolina’s largest school system even better, and they deserve your support.
Not sure what school board district you live in? Review the Wake County school board district map – or just review this list when casting your ballot.
In two races (Districts 4 and 6), we have endorsed two different candidates for the same seat. This is because, in our view, either candidate would make a fine choice. Our interest is in supporting candidates who fundamentally believe in strengthening public schools – not in using their position as a vehicle for promoting reactionary culture politics, as some candidates are doing.
(Protip: save this image to your phone for easy sharing with your friends and neighbors; and, of course, for reference when filling out your ballot.)
Schools as a battleground
Following Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, his former advisor and white nationalist Steve Bannon announced a project to mobilize hardcore MAGA supporters to “take over the school boards.” This initiative had a precedent; in 1996, Christian ultra-fundamentalist leader Ralph Reed led a similar effort. Both projects were essentially an attempt to channel highly partisan right-wing energy into local political offices, where they could carry out a reactionary culture war agenda.
Bannon’s call, like Reed’s, found a response – this time, in MAGA world. Full of outrage over imagined grievances – from Trump’s defeat, to conspiracy theories about COVID and vaccines, to a chilling obsession with children and sex – MAGA supporters lined up to run for local school boards. Wake County is no exception. Every single district race is also contested by a MAGA candidate responding to Steve Bannon’s call.
Just one example is Michele Morrow, candidate in District 9. Morrow is a January 6th insurrectionist who kicked off her campaign with noted anti-gay bigot, Lt. Governor Mark Robinson. Like many garden-variety conspiracy theorists, she believes that public schools are hotbeds of communism, vaccines contain tracking microchips, and that “Islamists” and “communist China” are taking away Christmas trees. To state the obvious, this is the work of a mentally unstable person in need of professional help – not someone in a position to assume leadership of North Carolina’s largest school system.
The good news? Steve Bannon’s school board takeover attempt seems to have significantly deflated. Wake County voters should make sure it does exactly that in our state by supporting the Carolina Forward candidate slate.