Of all the elections slated for this November, perhaps the most bizarre — and certainly the most spiteful — is the race for the Guilford County School Board.
Under a law passed in 2013, new districts were drawn to parallel those the Republican-controlled General Assembly created for the Guilford County Commission in 2011. The pattern is and was calculated to favor GOP representation. The new map double-bunks eight sitting board members, guaranteeing that at least four of them will not return.
Further stacking the deck, the restructuring reduces the number of at-large seats from two to one.
And to twist the screw even more: All races will now be partisan, an abandonment of any pretense that the education of our children be free from political maneuvering.
It should surprise no one that the bill shaking up the school board was written by state Sen. Trudy Wade, whose interest in things that seem beneath her station go back at least this far.
And like Wade’s Gambit — her attempt to pull a similar caper on the Greensboro City Council — this one is rife with unintended consequences.
Byron Gladden, a genuine activist who goes by the moniker Bishop Dean, has already locked down District 7, which runs along the entire east side of Greensboro, by virtue of no one else showing up to run against him. Districts 1, 4 and 8 will be settled in the primary, two going Democrat and one going Republican. District 2’s chances with the GOP benefit from the High Point Hook, incorporating the white, affluent rim of the city. The architects of the redistricting likely feel that District 6 will likely follow suit.
GOP candidates have an edge in each remaining district, large swaths of rural areas that burrow into small slivers of the progressive parts of the Greensboro.
The numbers become particularly important when we consider that the current school board — the one that is largely on the way out — voted to sue the state of North Carolina in 2014 over the issue of teacher tenure, which sunsets in the Old North State in 2018. The lawsuit is pending.
They say the statute, like many others our General Assembly has passed since 2010, violates federal law.
Mo Green, the superintendent when the lawsuit was filed, has already moved on to head the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation. If enough school board incumbents get knocked out, the suit could be quashed in the time it takes to call a meeting.
This little storyline might get lost come election time, with the presidential race sucking up most of the oxygen and so much on the line in the General Assembly. But all seasoned election watchers know that there’s lots of drama in the undercard if you know where to look.