What started out as frustration over coronavirus rules and face masks has now grown into an effort across Wisconsin to recall dozens of local school board members.
Voters in the Mequon-Thiensville school district will decide on Nov 2 if four members of the local school board should keep their seats. Mequon-Thiensville is just the latest of Wisconsin’s school board recalls.
Mom Amber Schroeder told The Center Square that Mequon parents first started going to school board meetings to get their kids back in class, in-person, but then grew frustrated with what they saw from local school leaders.
“At first we were met with a pleasurable ‘Okay, give them their three minutes of microphone time. It’s no big deal. They will go away,’ And then you could tell they were getting annoyed by us,” Schroeder explained. “Then they stopped responding to our emails. They’re supposed to reply in 10 days. When they did respond we noticed we were all getting copied-and-pasted responses from not only our superintendent, but our school board as well.”
Schroeder said that opposition to even listening to parents’ concerns about masks for younger kids and the quarantining of healthy students led to more frustration from parents.
Then she said Mequon parents started noticing just what their kids were learning.
“This may have started because COVID opened a lot of parents’ eyes to the poor instruction our kids were getting during the virtual aspect of school last year,” But Schroeder said it has grown from there. “I point out to parents that our district is not the same district it was five, 10, 15, 20 years ago. People were shocked. And they still are.”
Schroeder said test scores and academic standards have slipped over the past year, but have been declining for years before that.
That total frustration is why Schroeder said parents in Mequon-Thiensville are pushing for a recall. It’s also why she says parents across the state are angry as well.
“You get one shot at educating our kids, and they are blowing it,” Schroeder said.
Mequon-Thiensville is not the only school district to see a recall.
Ballotpedia says Wisconsin has seen attempted recalls against 36 school board members in 16 school districts.
Republican lawmakers say that is evidence that parents across the state are trying to take back control of their local schools from what they characterize as “woke” local leaders or education bureaucrats.
“I think you’re going to see this more and more in different school districts because parents have had enough,” Rep. Barb Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, told The Center Square. “We have to be responsive to our constituents no matter what level of elected office we hold; me, school board members, and anyone else who is elected.”
Wisconsin’s former Lt. Gov, and current Republican candidate for governor, Rebecca Kleefisch echoed that.
“Parents have watched their kids suffer through anxiety, depression, and learning loss with no help from anyone. Their school boards have abandoned them,” Kleefisch said Friday. “We need to do everything we can to take back control of our schools and support these parents who care deeply about the futures of their children.”
Schroeder said she knows she’s not the only mom who doesn’t like what she’s seeing taught in her kids’ schools.
“They have to start sticking-up for their children, for their communities, for their families, and for their neighbors,” Schroeder said. “They don’t have to launch a recall, but they do need to get involved. They need to pay attention.”