Parent groups are challenging Newton and Wellesley Public Schools for implementing social safe spaces and antiracism education in the classrooms

Even Boston’s most liberal suburbs are not immune to right-wing activism aimed at limiting how public schools can address social inequality. Both Newton and Wellesley have recently become targets of a conservative group that’s helping fuel vitriolic protests at school board meetings across the country. 

Parents Defending Education group is suing Wellesley Public Schools over the district’s creation of optional discussion groups where students and faculty can discuss race. Newton, meanwhile, has been flagged by the group because of a PowerPoint presentation that pledged a commitment to antiracism at an elementary school. 

“[Newton Public Schools] is committed to working tirelessly to ensure that we propel our community forward into an antiracist future,” reads the commitment. Parents Defending Education takes issue with this statement. 

In this year’s elections, parental control over children’s public education content emerged as a polarizing issue nationwide. Mask mandates, vaccination requirements and education about race divided parents. School board meetings in states like Virginia and New Jersey became confrontational and hostile affairs. Parents Defending Education, which advocates against “indoctrination” in public schools, is one of the driving force