The QAnon Plan to Infiltrate School Boards
Unions are preparing for latest fight in culture war over school curriculum
After failing to overturn the 2020 Presidential election and taking part in the deadly January 6 insurrection, dangerous QAnon supporters and their far-right cohorts have their sites set on a new governmental branch, school boards.
QAnon, which is a conspiracy theory that has gained prevalence on the far right, believes that a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, including Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey, and President Joe Biden, are secretly eating white children and taking over the world. Their neo-Nazi beliefs are anti-Semitic, purporting that wealthy Jews finance these pedophiles and control the media. Additionally, despite bans on Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, QAnon’s promoters also are spreading false information online about COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, the Sandy Hook mass shooting, refugees and immigrants, and the presidential election.
Since the Capitol riots and the attention that has come to followers of Q, supporters have begun to distance themselves from the now toxic name Qanon, but that doesn’t mean that they have given up pushing the core messages. According to NBC News, many of these Q disciples have decided that running for school board or local office is the best way to spread the Q gospel, even if they don’t outright say that they are QAnon supporters.
The danger is that it’s fairly easy to get elected to many school boards, often needing only a few thousand votes. Yet once you are on the school board, you have the ability to help shape the curriculum in the district and vote on things like a new teacher's contract or funding for the school. Teachers fear that as more of these people get elected to school boards, there will be more scrutiny over the subject matter that is taught especially in areas such as health, history, and science.
In June the National Education Association (NEA) warned that “conspiracy theorists and proponents of fake news are winning local elections. And their new positions give them a powerful voice in everything from local law enforcement to libraries, trash pickup to textbook purchases.”
In recent months they have used school boards as a flashpoint to push their ideas with videos from across the nation showing them attending local meetings to grandstand about masks which they believe “make it easier for sex traffickers to target kids in our community,” vaccines, and Critical Race Theory, which they believe is being taught in schools to indoctrinate students into leftist ideology. There is no evidence that Critical Race Theory, a law school-level class, is being taught in American schools.
In Grand Blanc, Michigan, voters elected Amy Facchinello, a QAnon supporter, to a six-year term in November with just 26% of the vote. After she was elected students found some of her tweets supporting the radical movement.
The new Grand Blanc school board member Amy Facchinello believes in Q Anon, which is a conspiracy that claims Hillary Clinton leads a Satanic cabal of pedophiles among MANY other things. I made a thread of her RTs / tweets showcasing this. Someone like this shouldn’t hold office. pic.twitter.com/15ObxqQqAp
— Lucas A. Hartwell (@LucasAHartwell1) November 14, 2020
Teachers in the district fear that now that she is on the board she will push a radical agenda to whitewash the curriculum at the school.
“[Facchinello] talked a lot about ‘outside forces infiltrating our schools,’” says Patty Duffy, a retired teacher in the district, including the 1619 Project, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalism project that launched in 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving in Virginia. “Nobody in Grand Blanc teaches the 1619 Project, but she’s afraid they will,” says Duffy, who taught English for 35 years and now works as an adjunct professor at Mott Community College. “She doesn’t want a fair view of American history—she wants a whitewashed one. She wants [a history] that looks like her.”
Duffy, along with about 100 retired teachers, students, and community members has been holding protests about her position on the board and have called for her to resign immediately with signs saying “Keep Q Out of Schools,” or “You Already Destroyed the Capitol, Now Stay Out of the Schools!”
Duffy has promised that if Facchinello doesn’t resign, she will start a recall effort to remove her from the board. This is a similar playbook that conservatives are taking as recalls of school board members have surged in recent months. These recalls are largely fueled by the false notion that students are being taught Critical Race Theory in schools. At least 51 recalls, targeting 130 elected school board members have been filed this year, more than twice the normal average.