The movement against Critical Race Theory (CRT) in Guilford Public Schools (GPS), a Connecticut school district, claimed a victory last week, when a handful of concerned parents ousted Republican incumbents sympathetic to the district’s progressive agenda from the running for the school board.
On July 22, the Guilford Republican Caucus congregated to vote on which nominees would make it onto the Republican ticket for the Board of Education. The turnout almost reached 200 people, which is an unusually large number of Republicans for a Guilford town meeting.
Out of eight total candidates competing for a spot, five parents new to the local political arena running on an anti-indoctrination platform outscored three incumbents 2-1, securing Republican endorsement for the general school board election in November. The five each earned over a hundred votes, while the three incumbents garnered 71 votes, 48 votes, and 47 votes, respectively.
Danielle Scarpellino, a GPS parent who has helped expose the Democratic-dominated school board’s schemes to integrate CRT into Guilford classrooms this past year, was one of those five front-runners.
In an interview with National Review, Scarpellino said the three incumbents had earned a reputation for rubber-stamping the superintendent’s equity and inclusion initiatives and accepting the status quo of a racialized curricula in Guilford. She said she and the other four challengers had built a coalition through Truth in Education, a grassroots organization of concerned citizens lobbying against CRT in the school district.
Scarpellino said that she and her colleagues’ latest triumph represents progress for their mission, but more obstacles lay ahead.
“In order for our cause to come to fruition, which is to keep the evil tenets of CRT out of our children’s education, we need to flip the board,” she noted.
The board comprises nine members, including four Republicans, four Democrats, and one swing seat. To retain a majority and steer decision-making on the panel, the anti-CRT alliance needs to lock down the swing seat. To maximize their chances of gaining it, the Republicans are putting all five newcomers on the ballot, rather than the minimum four, Scarpellino said.
While the GOP ouster was one battle won in the fight against CRT in Guilford, Scarpellino warned, “We haven’t won the war. The other side is a well-oiled political machine with the backing of the superintendent, the mayor, secretaries, etc. That’s what we’re up against. Our fear is that our message will get drowned out.”
The five candidates are now campaign strategizing, Scarpellino said, to defend against that possibility. While Guilford is overwhelmingly Democratic, the town is home to a large politically unaffiliated population. The task is to educate and convince those voters, she said.
Even less politically involved members of the community are starting to notice a lack of transparency from the school board, Scarpellino suggested.
“We are sharing information, sending out facts about what’s happening in our schools. They can’t believe it. Add to it that every time someone goes to the board they deny they’re teaching CRT even though we have evidence. They’re gaslighting us by saying ‘there’s nothing to see here’,” she said.
“There is no public debate, no discussion. The board is shutting down all conversation by making that disingenuous statement. We may not be PhDs, or experts in education, or reporters, or detectives, but we’re not stupid. Parents are the experts on their children,” Scarpellino affirmed.
Nick Cusano, another one of the five Republican contenders for the school board, said concern for his children motivated him and the others to enter the race. “We are all parents with students in the school system. That’s the uniting piece that brought us all together,” he told National Review.
“I have no political ambitions. I did this because I’ve seen the assignments tinted with CRT. We have nothing to gain from this except the education our children deserve. I can’t just sit by and do nothing. This was my call to action,” Cusano shared.
Bill Maisano, a third nominee on the Republican ticket, said he got involved when he witnessed progressive curriculum pushing on his kids, with no room for disagreement or debate. He believes the Republicans can persuade even liberal voters by simply spreading awareness of what’s happening in Guilford schools.
“People tell me quietly and privately that they support me but are afraid to be vocal. We can find common ground with liberals by informing them,” Maisano said.