For educators and students, the summer of 2021 was filled with thoughts of returning to school buildings after a long stretch of virtual instruction. For political strategists and pundits, it marked a new season in electoral politics—the time to start defining the issues that will shape midterm elections. And so, right-wing journalists and think tanks were busy manufacturing a moral panic, knowing that stoking public fear is a reliable strategy for bringing conservative constituents to the polls.
This brief offers guidance for fostering productive dialogue in the face of manufactured dissent—and for reclaiming space, in both rhetoric and reality, for equity-focused efforts, anti-racist history education, and culturally affirming instruction. It is designed for system, district, and school leaders who are doing important equity-focused work and looking for ways to communicate more effectively on these issues.