No one ever said change would be easy. But the prospects for school reform in Delaware took a step backward in several districts.
You may recall a post or two ago I talked about dueling endorsements from the Patriots for Delaware (P4D) and the Democratic Socialists of America Delaware chapter (DSA), although the latter only implied their list was one of preference rather than endorsement given the “right-wing” nature of Patriots for Delaware. And by the time the smoke cleared on Tuesday night, it was apparent that the upstart Patriots group has some work to do.
Out of five (there was a late add in Smyrna) candidates that P4D endorsed, all five (including one incumbent) lost. The percentages varied from 20.58% for the Patriot-backed candidate in the Red Clay district to a close 47.92% from the incumbent who lost in Woodbridge. Even more infuriating, though, was that the quintet all lost to candidates preferred by the DSA. (In three of the races, it was obvious since there were only two running.)
But while the DSA could be happy that they knocked off all five P4D candidates, the other five they backed only went 1-for-5, including a big defeat here in my Laurel district. If anything, however, Ivy Bonk probably handed victory to the retread who was trying to get back in after losing last year because she split the opposition vote, meaning Joey Deiter fell seven votes short, 147 to 140. Bonk had 71, so it’s no stretch to figure most of those would have voted for Deiter if it were a two-person race.
So now that Patriots for Delaware has been through a race cycle, they have some lessons to learn. For one thing, candidate recruitment begins now. We know that pretty much every school district in Delaware will have a school board election next year, so there should be an effort to find someone in every district who can be trusted and won’t need vetting. (And some advice for those considering it: start culling anything remotely objectionable from your social media accounts.) We know those who purport to be “investigative” journalists tend to point their magnifying glass only one way, so be cognizant of that fact.
The second part is trying to figure out a way to seize the narrative. The key issues this time around were reopening schools after the pandemic and the battle against Critical Race Theory getting a foothold in the schools. Meanwhile, other kids in parochial schools have been in class all year and are being taught a proper appreciation for both history and one another. Find the success stories: good kids who go to these alternative schools (or are homeschooled) and hold them up as ideals when compared to public school kids. And ask the questions: why can’t public school kids measure up, and how are those on the school boards going to address the problem? (Hint: it ain’t more money.)
I know that P4D is trying to get people interested in taking the time to attend their local school board meetings, and that’s a good idea, too. If a rogue board knows there is public scrutiny, they may think twice about taking objectionable steps. Our side pays taxes, too – in fact, we may pay more than the other side does.
It was a great idea for Patriots for Delaware to take that first step, and now they have some inkling what to expect. Hopefully come May of next year, they will be celebrating some initial victories on the road back to sanity for the state of Delaware.