School board meeting Credit: Steven M. Fale

Last spring, when the odds seemed far longer, Bob Cousineau, a social studies teacher at Pennridge High School, predicted that whatever happened in his embattled district would become a national “case study” one way or another. It would either create “the blueprint” for outside political interests to enact a complete takeover of local public schools, he said, or “the blueprint for how to stand up to it.”

For much of the past two years, Pennridge School District, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania—one of Philadelphia’s suburban swing counties—has served as an experiment in how far conservatives can pull public schools right.

Until this past November, its nine school board members had all been elected as Republicans, including a five-member majority reportedly affiliated with the activist group Moms for Liberty. Policies introduced by the board and district administrators in recent years have been sweeping: Two separate groups focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues were shut down; LGBTQ+ “Pride” rainbows were banned alongside other “advocacy” symbols; curriculum was repeatedly changed or […]

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