Turning Point USA, an organization that trains and mobilizes right-wing college students, launched a project targeting public school boards on August 15, the Documented newsletter reported. TPUSA’s “School Board Watchlist” urges right-wing activists to submit anonymous tips about “radical and false ideologies endorsed by school boards and pushed in the classroom.”
The project, like the larger right-wing attack on public schools and school boards, opposes initiatives that teach students about systemic racism in U.S. history and institutions, programs that promote the full inclusion of LGBTQ students, or steps taken to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Among the group’s complaints about “Leftist, racist, and anti-American propaganda” are districts “renaming schools and sports teams because of their ‘racist’ namesakes” and “continuing to use COVID as an excuse to maintain online learning and enforce abusive mask policies.”
“SBWL finds and exposes school board leadership that supports anti-American, radical, hateful, immoral, and racist teachings in their districts, such as Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project, sexual/gender ideology, and more,” declares the School Board Watchlist website.
Given the School Board Watchlist’s heated rhetoric about “blatant indoctrination” with radical ideologies, it is notable how little it takes to get a school district put on the “watchlist” and subject to being targeted in TPUSA’s “battle to reclaim our schools—and our nation’s future—by holding school district leadership accountable for their actions and the dangerous agendas they push in classrooms.”
In the case of Norman, Oklahoma, public schools—labeled one of the “most radical districts” by TPUSA—the offenses included a school board member’s heated rhetoric—later apologized for—in defense of mask mandates and the district offering trainings on unconscious bias and systemic inequality.
A report on Albuquerque, New Mexico, public schools notes that students are required to wear masks indoors and that one of the district’s high schools will award a ”Homecoming Court” rather than prom king or queen.
While the School Board Watchlist is described as a project of Turning Point USA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, TPUSA President Charlie Kirk has also publicly vowed to involve Turning Point Action, the group’s political arm, in school board races.
On Tuesday, Kirk appeared with religious-right activist pastor Jack Hibbs at a “Freedom Night in America” broadcast from Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Kirk used part of his time to slam Scottsdale Unified School District school board members for voting to require students to wear masks for the start of the new school year. He claimed that wearing masks harms children’s emotional and spiritual development. “God gave us a face for a reason,” he said.
Kirk showed video of his smug and combative remarks from a recent school board meeting at which he told school board members that he is a new resident of Scottsdale but felt like he was living in San Francisco “because of all of you and your self-righteous measures that you’re putting to abuse the children of this wonderful state.”
“Your time is soon up,” he told school board members. “The people of this state and this school district are rising up. There are recall measures in place. You have awoke a sleeping giant. I hope you enjoy your masked, short-term future here while it still lasts.”
Kirk told attendees at the Dream City Church event that he was happy with how many church members had turned out to the school board meeting. “Evil,” he said, does not like to be called out.
Kirk said Turning Point Action would do everything it could to gather signatures for the recall effort, which targets four of the five Scottsdale school board members.