October 12, 2023 | OPINION | By Marynn Krull
Disclaimer: The author is an intern with Common Sense for D11, a slate of candidates running for school board. This article was not sponsored by Common Sense for D11.
“Just wait until you get to college.”
Growing up, when I complained about the highs and lows of public high school, well-meaning teachers, parents and peers reassured me that college would be a more accepting, exciting, and engaging place. While I agree with the general premise, the issues high schoolers are facing today are much bigger than inevitable rites of passage. Unlike the conventional smelly locker rooms and fights in the hallway, we have the ability vote censorship, racism and homophobia out of our public schools.
As a graduate from Colorado Springs’ largest school district, I was deeply disheartened watching the District 11 school board descend into homophobic, white Christian nationalism. It’s hard to sit back and think, “At least I got out of there,” when I know movements like this are happening in school boards around the country.
School board elections have become the newest political battleground, through which politicians use manufactured fears to censor classrooms and control the worldviews of future voters. Caught in the crosshairs of these political agendas are students with no voting power to decide what kind of atmosphere they want to learn in.
In 2021, a massive influx of dark money swamped teacher-backed candidates and flipped the district’s school board to a conservative majority.
Throughout their term, the conservative school board has banned teachers from asking students about their pronouns, advanced proposals to censor books in school libraries, dissolved the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and kneecapped the Healthy Kids survey, which provides critical data on student mental health and safety.
The board has repeatedly acted in the interests of extreme political minorities, while ignoring the pleas of parents, teachers and students. District 11 students have been protesting the board since January, but protests alone do not win elections. Put simply, the events in the district are the unfortunate results of fascist fearmongering.
It is an enormous privilege that at Colorado College, we can count on a fair, honest, and accurate depiction of history and steadfast protection of our civil rights and liberties. We were able to choose those guarantees for ourselves, but public-school students can’t. They’re at the whim of highly politicized school board elections flooded with thousands of dollars in secret political spending.
This November, it is our responsibility to speak for the high school students in our community who cannot speak for themselves.
Colorado College students may live in Colorado Springs for just a few years, but by voting, we have incredible power to make The Springs a safer and more tolerant place to live for generations to come.
Especially considering that off-year, local elections such as this year’s tend to have low voter turnout, just a few CC votes could decide who ends up on the District 11 school board.
Colorado Springs and CC were founded just three years apart; CC students have been instrumental in the founding of various political movements, organizations and businesses that constitute Colorado Springs today. Colorado College voters may be enough to beat $130,000 of dark money.
We can break the liberal CC bubble and make Colorado Springs a more tolerant, hospitable and safer place to live – but only if we get off our asses and vote. I’m sure those high school students in District 11 would if they could.
The last day to register to vote in Colorado is Monday, Oct. 16. The polls close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 7. More details about registration and voting can be found at the CC Votes website.