Excerpt: In a typical back-to-school season, markers and poster board might be on a classroom supply list. This year, they’re also hot items for protesters attending their local school board meetings. Mask mandates, critical race theory, “you name the issue and people want to speak out,” says Heath Miller, a high school band director in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who considers this the most stressful period of his 20 years teaching.
In recent weeks, individuals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, lit masks on fire outside a school board meeting. Pro-mask protesters in Fort Worth, Texas, staged a mock funeral outside the school board president’s home in August. The critical race theory debate continues to burn after erupting last spring, with new laws passed in eight states banning teachers from covering “divisive topics” and multiple other states considering restrictive measures. Loudoun County, Virginia, saw contentious clashes over the district’s expansion of transgender student rights.