WFU Professor Explains Why Education Is a Hot Topic in NC Election

With more than 1.4 million students enrolled in North Carolina public schools, education issues are always a factor in elections.

But this year, the loss of learning as a result of the pandemic, disputes over the curriculum and a greater awareness of the power of school boards put education front and center for voters, said Dani Parker Moorelecturer in multicultural education and director of the School, Education and Society minor at Wake Forest University.

She says many voters pay close attention to local school board races. From major social media campaigns to funding political action committees or PACs, these races are being amplified across the country and in North Carolina.

Parker Moore’s research addresses educational inequalities and opportunities for social action through qualitative research and analysis. Her current work examines the experiences and challenges that essential workers and parents/guardians have faced while facilitating online learning during the pandemic.

What are the top education issues voters are most concerned about in the 2022 midterm elections?

People are really concerned about COVID learning loss. They are really concerned about where their kids are now and feel like their kids are behind from that point on. The other part of this big conversation, not just in North Carolina but nationally, is that many educators are leaving the teaching profession. People worry about teaching conditions and teachers’ salaries. Many of these school districts are severely understaffed, and it’s not just teachers, but at all levels, including bus drivers, custodians, and teacher’s aides. »

Why are school board races in the spotlight?

“Curriculum and what parents think about certain issues are concerns of some voters. This includes heated debates about role of schools in teaching students about gender, sexuality and race. The term critical race theory is used in some campaigns. In In the past, school board races were often overlooked, but that has changed in recent years. In some districts in North Carolina, many or all of the school board seats are up for grabs. It’s basically about what are these types of partisan talking points and what are the values ​​of these candidates.”

Why are school elections important?

“School board elections are really important because if you look in general North Carolina law at what school boards do, they do a lot. They choose superintendents. Their main goal is that there is an opportunity for a good, fair and basic education for every child, but when you get there, they have budget control, decide what gets funded or not, create district policies – even have a hand in books are in schools. There’s a line in the general law that says if they don’t choose the state-adopted textbook, they can choose a different textbook. They can really influence the direction of the neighborhood.

Early voting in North Carolina runs through Saturday, November 5. The 2022 general election will take place on Tuesday, November 8.

Media note: Wake Forest University education professor Dani Parker Moore is available for comment during this year’s general election. Contact Keri Brown, 336-758-4442 or C: 336-971-5402 or media@badwfu.edu.

Jessica C. Bell