DSA In Schools


The Democratic Socialists of America’s long march through our K-12 institutions

Executive Summary

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have an established track record of expounding radical, divisive and antisemitic ideologies. Publicly available information and documents reveal that DSA supporters have infected every level of K-12 schools. From school board members to teachers unions and staff, individuals connected with DSA across the country are exploiting their positions to push politically-charged and troubling content on children. They advocate for dismantling capitalism, pushing for the Green New Deal, defunding law enforcement, implementing critical race theory, and supporting minors seeking gender surgery without their parents’ consent. Their goal is to push these topics on children as young as 5 years old.

Parents Defending Education takes a deep dive into DSA, the policies they are pushing on children, and the extent of their presence in U.S. schools.

Full Report

The Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, seek to advance its ideology by using the K-12 education system. Over the years, the DSA has grown in its membership, increased numbers inside of teachers unions, won school board seats including board presidents, advanced its political agenda through district policies, and has created youth clubs inside schools.

The DSA seeks to gain control of both the teachers unions and the school boards, which would allow it to negotiate from both sides of the table.

Its political platforms include the implementation of a Green New Deal for Public Schools, “protecting” transgender students, promoting student activism, and defunding the police. The DSA also advocates for minors having access to “gender affirming care” without parental consent.

The DSA has partnered with teachers unions, Black Lives Matter at School, groups that promote antisemitic ideology such as the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), and antifascist activist groups.


In the summer of 2022, National Black Lives Matter at School endorsed and promoted the Democratic Socialists of America National BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group’s Educators for Palestine Series titled “Learning Toward Liberation: Rooting Our Pedagogy of Palestine in Humanity and Justice!”

The endorsement states that “from SNCC, to Malcolm X, to the Black Panthers, to Angela Davis, to Nelson Mandela, to Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives, Black leaders and social movements have always stood in solidarity with Palestine and Palestinians.” It continues by quoting Ghassan Kanafani, a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Marxist-Leninist of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The DSA’s Educators for Palestine Summer Series aimed “to create a space for education workers to come together with experts in the field of teaching Palestine to learn, discuss, and equip ourselves with the knowledge and practices needed to bring the truth about Palestine into our classrooms.”

Sessions include “Palestine: The History of a People” which focused on understanding “the history of its people and their heroic resistance to Zionism,” “Teaching Palestine with Humility” led by Jody Sokolower of the Middle East Children’s Alliance’s Teach Palestine Project and Lara Kiswani of Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), and “Navigating Pitfalls and Backlash.”


The Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, is a socialist organization that wants to replace capitalism with “democratic socialism, a system where ordinary people have a real voice in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and society.” The DSA states that it seeks to “win ‘radical’ reforms like single-payer Medicare for All, defunding the police/refunding communities, the Green New Deal, and more as a transition to a freer, more just life.”

The organization states that its purpose is to “reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, age, religion, and national origin, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo.”


Democratic Socialists of America proclaims it is socialist and has a vision of a “humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships.” The DSA claims that it is “democratic” because “transformation can only come from the bottom up.” It states that “socialism is the complete realization of democracy.”

The socialist organization believes that the “historical development of U.S. capitalism was heavily reliant on the theft of people’s lives and land, through the enslavement of Black people and genocide of Indigenous people.” It also seeks to overcome “the old, barbaric order of capitalism” and liberate the working class from the “parasitic death-drive of capitalism.”

The DSA concludes by stating that “transformational change in society does not come from moral righteousness or a checklist of policy positions, but from growing and wielding power.”


The DSA-LA chapter’s education platform states that it refuses the “privatization of our public goods, including our education system and resources” and that it is “against a pro-capitalist pedagogy that reinforces oppressive socio-economic relationships and structures through a deliberately narrow curriculum designed to uphold American imperialism.”

Its list of demands include:

  • “Support a Green New Deal for Public Schools in LA County”
  • “Expand Community Schools model across LA”
  • “Reinstate and seek new progressive property taxes that redistribute funds from high-earning to low-income areas to pay for public schools”
  • “Protect and expand student rights to self organize and self advocate for a better quality education system and social and economic justice, among other issues”
  • Support implementation of a broad anti-racist and anti-imperialist ethnic studies school curriculum
  • “Support the right to hold student-led social and economic justice actions on K-12, community college, trade school, and college and university campuses in LA”

According to a January 8, 2018, post titled Educating for Socialism, the author states that “some educational ideologies are more aligned with DSA’s goals than others.”

Those “aligned” ideas come from Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, whose “radical or critical pedagogy has an incredible leftist history.” The DSA uses these sets of ideologies which includes a “commitment to the potential for education to free us from the dominance of white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy in which we live.”

The author states that “K-12 education has socialized most of us to see education as a transaction; that is, students are consumers of information delivered by experts, the teachers.” The author declares that the DSA should “consider de-emphasizing the role of experts” and that “putting experts at the front of the room shifts the dynamic to an audience of learners waiting for learning to be done to them.”

Towards the end of the post, DSA member Duane Campbell notes that Freire’s work is often “described as Critical Theory, or, at times, Critical Race Theory, and begins with an analysis of class conflict and the ideological hegemony of the ruling class.”


The DSA’s Gender and Sexuality Justice platform states that the DSA is a “socialist feminist organization.” It also fights against “systems of oppression and exploitation including patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy.” The DSA states that it seeks “nothing less than liberation,” and defines it as “all genders having freedom and control over their own lives and bodies through ending exploitation.”

The organization’s demands include:

  • “Free contraception and birth control for all who want it, provided by the state”
  • “Free abortion on demand”
  • “Quality, age appropriate, and comprehensive sex-ed taught in schools”
  • “Enact a single-payer Medicare for All system that provides free queer sexual health and gender affirming healthcare, including HIV care, PrEP, fertilty [sic] treatments, birth control, abortion care, mental health care, hormone replacement therapy, and gender-affirming surgeries”
  • Allow trans minors to access gender affirming care without parental consent
  • “End the repression of sex workers and fully decriminalize sex work nationwide”
  • “End conversion therapy and provide stronger supportive care for minors whose families abandon them”


The DSA also touts its Green New Deal proposal, which is a “vision of racial, gender, economic, and environmental justice.” The proposal is “rooted in a concrete analysis of ruling class power, which is located in control over investment and production of surplus value.” It also states that using a capitalist approach to “climate change and other environmental crises” would “further exploit and immiserate the working class.” The Green New Deal proposal “aims to rebuild the public sector and the labor movement as both a means and an end.”

According to the DSA’s Green New Deal platform, “capitalism has created an existential crisis for humanity through endless extraction, exploitation, and destruction of our planet.”

Demands include:

  • “decarbonize the economy within a decade”
  • “Democratize control over major energy systems and resources”
  • “Center the working class in a just transition to an economy of societal and ecological care”
  • “Ensure land and resources are prioritized for building resilient communities and ecosystems for the many, not the few”
  • “Demilitarize, decolonize, and strive for a future of international solidarity and cooperation toward global climate justice”
  • “Redistribute resources from the worst producers”

The DSA calls for a “revolution in public education” through the advancement of a Green New Deal for Public Schools. The DSA states that along with its “Green New Deal Campaign Committee and teacher unions nationwide,” it will take a “whole child” approach to building better public schools. The plan includes over $1trillion in proposed funding to retrofit schools with green energy initiatives, the creation of millions of jobs centered around K-12 schools, and a redistribution of funding to reverse “decades of systemic racism and opportunity gaps for Black and Brown students.”


  • Defund the Police
  • “Decarcerate our schools by repealing truancy laws, ending all zero tolerance disciplinary policies, suspensions and expulsions, surveillance of students, and removing police — both public and private — from all schools, colleges, and universities”
  • “Implement and fully fund programs for desegregation and integration for all public schools”
  • “Increase access to education for immigrants by increasing funding for prekindergarten through college education and funding for adult education, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), High School Equivalency (HSE), prep, and English Language Learners (ELL) and Multilingual Learners (MLL) programs”
  • Disconnect property taxes from school funding and fully fund public education

According to a statement from 2017 regarding LGBTQ and intersex rights, the DSA claims that it “supports making public schools safe and bias-free for LGBTQIA+ students, defending their free speech and expression in schools” and the “freedom to organize gay-straight alliance clubs in all levels of education.”

At its 2019 convention, the DSA voted on and approved Resolution #9: Establishing a National Anti-Fascist and Direct Action Working Group. The resolution states that the “DSA will create a national working group dedicated to antifascist organizing” and tasked with “providing information and instruction to help DSA members to disrupt fascist organizing” and “coordinating antifascist praxis with existing antifascist and community defense groups.”


At the Democratic Socialists of America’s 2023 Convention, the governing body passed a resolution titled “Run DSA Candidates for School Boards.” The amendment states that “one of the main tactics of the far right at present is to conduct takeovers of school boards in order to attack trans and queer youths, suppress intellectual freedom, and gut the public school system.” The resolution continues: “the teacher movement is the tip of the spear of a revitalized labor movement and school boards races are a clear way to build relationships with teacher unions by showing ourselves to be the strongest fighters for teachers and quality public education for all.”

The amendment concludes: “Resolved, that [the] DSA commits to running candidates in school board races and to fight ring wing [sic] and neoliberal attacks on public schools by bringing together DSA, teachers, support staff and education worker unions, and grassroots parent and student groups behind candidates dedicated to building the working class [sic] movement.

The resolution further states that it is “resolved” that the “DSA reaffirms its commitment to trans and queer rights, and to defending democracy against the ascendent far right, and DSA condemns to the strongest possible degree the growing and ongoing movement to eliminate trans people from our society.”

One of the amendment’s authors penned a piece in support of the proposal titled Run DSA Candidates for School Boards!The argument states that “the current political movement is incredibly dangerous for trans people.” The author claims that “far right figures are advocating what is tantamount to genocide” and “the Republican Party is in the process of codifying this into law.”

Stopping “anti-trans organizing around school boards” is “important to prevent conservatives from bubbling into more cohesive forces in new areas.” They continue by adding that if they “are able to break them at the local level, it will be harder for them to gain momentum at the state and federal level.”

The author states that by focusing on school boards, the DSA can develop “the infrastructure and skills needed to run and win larger races” and “by electing socialists” into school board seats, they can “set new, model policies protecting trans kids.”


(This is not an exhaustive list. If you are aware of DSA influence on your school board, let us know here.)


Glendale Unified School District

Ingrid Gunnell (2022-Present)

Los Angeles Unified School District

Kahllid Al-Alim (Currently running)

Karla Griego (Currently running)

According to a July 2019 United Teachers Los Angeles document titled “Building the Power to Reclaim Our Schools,” Karla Griego is listed as part of “UTLA’s regional rank-and-file area chairs.” Kahllid Al-Alim had assisted the teachers union with leading “small group meetings” with community members to “tease out issues.”

Jackie Goldberg (Board President, 2019-Present)

Rocio Rivas (2022-Present)

On March 15, 2023, Rivas released a message titled Los Angeles Unified Convenes Greening Schools and Climate Resilience Committee. Chaired by Rivas, the newly created committee will “assess and propose policies, practices and resources needed to create District-wide sustainable, healthy, resilient, and equitable learning environments.”

The committee includes fellow DSA member and board president Jackie Goldberg, academics, climate activist nonprofits such as the Sunrise Movement LA, and Katie Theel, “The committee includes fellow DSA member and board president Jackie Goldberg, academics, climate activist nonprofits such as the Sunrise Movement LA, and “Katie Theel, DSA, Green New Deal for Public Schools.”

According to Rivas, “‘Greening our schools is essential to meeting the climate crisis while nurturing our students and communities. We must ensure all of our schools have equitable opportunities to bring trees, gardens, water recapture, reusables, and so much more to their campuses.'”

In 2021, and renewed again in 2022, the Los Angeles chapter of the DSA passed a resolution demanding a “Green New Deal for Public Schools LA.” The resolution states that it has an opportunity to “advance anti-capitalist demands for green investment in public education; retrofitting schools to create healthy learning environments, calling on LAUSD and other county institutions to create pressure for green energy, and creating green union jobs in the process.”

Listed campaign goals include building a “Green New Deal for Public Schools Coalition with unions and community groups, including at least one union co-sponsored event and at least one union or Central Labor Council resolution passed in support,”

Manhattan Beach Unified School District

Jason Boxer (2020-2023)

Oakland Unified School District

Mike Hutchinson (Board President, 2023-Present)

Sasha Ritzie-Hernandez (Lost bid for seat)


Denver Public Schools

Auon’tai (Tay) M. Anderson (2019-2023)


Fayette County Public Schools

Dr. Arnold Farr (Lost bid for seat)

Jefferson County Public Schools

Dr. Chris Kolb (2020-Present)


State Board of Education

Michelle Fecteau (2013-2020, AAUP-AFT Executive Director 2007-Present)


Moorehead Area Public Schools

Kara Gloe (2017-2021)

Mounds View School District

Jon VanOeveren (Lost bid for seat)


Clark County School District

Lola Brooks (Vice President, 2016-Present)

New York

Riverhead Central School District

Colin Palmer (Board President, 2021-2024)

Saratoga Springs City School District

Natalya Lakhtakia

Syracuse City School District

Twiggy Billue (2022-2025)


Parkland School District

Marisa Ziegler (Vice-President, 2020-2024)


Maryville City Schools

Don Jones (Lost bid for seat)


Arlington Independent School District

Hunter Crow (Lost bid for seat)

Austin Independent School District

Andrew Gonzales (2022-Present)

Pasadena Independent School District

Crystal Davila (2021-Present)


Chesapeake Public Schools

Blaizen Bloom (Lost bid for seat)


Milwaukee Public Schools

Derek Beyer (2019, Lost bid for seat)

Bob Peterson (Board President, 2019-2023)

Missy Zombor (2023-Present)

On October 22, 2023, Zombor posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”


(This is not an exhaustive list. If you are aware of DSA influence in your local teachers’ union, let us know here.)


Oakland Education Association

The Oakland Education Association (OEA) and the DSA often partner on issues. In 2022, the OEA was “proud to announce” that the DSA had endorsed their candidates.

United Educators of San Francisco

On May 19, 2021, the United Educators of San Francisco (UESF) passed a resolution endorsing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. It was the first teachers union in the country to do so. According to the DSA’s “Red Star Caucus” in San Francisco, it noted that it had an “emerging rank-and-file movement within UESF” and it claimed they were responsible for the resolution. The Red Star Caucus is a “revolutionary Marxist” subgroup of the DSA.

The UESF often partners with the DSA for actions and strikes.

United Teachers Los Angeles

According to the DSA, the United Teachers Los Angeles, or UTLA, is comprised of “dual members of DSA-LA and United Teachers Los Angeles.” In June of 2023, the DSA and UTLA members joined the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in its writers and cast strike.

According to a March 3, 2023, World Socialist Web Site article, it states that “both the UTLA and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education are controlled by the DSA. “

It continues: “Jackie Goldberg, for decades a fixture in local Democratic Party politics, has been president of the Board since this January. Rocio Rivas, another DSA member, is also on the board. The UTLA’s president is Cecily Myart-Cruz, who specializes in using racial politics to divert attention from the class struggle.”

In 2019, UTLA president Cecily Myart-Cruz (then vice-president) was a keynote speaker at the DSA National Convention. That same convention featured a keynote address from controversial figure Linda Sarsour.

A Los Angeles Magazine expose on Myart-Cruz was quoted as saying in regard to the school lockdowns that it was “ok that our babies may not have learned their times tables” but they did “learn resilience.” She asserted that “‘learning loss’ is a fake crisis.”


Colorado Education Association

Bryan Lindstrom

In April 2023, teacher, Colorado Education Association (CEA) member, and DSA member Bryan Lindstrom submitted a resolution to the CEA that stated that the CEA “believes that capitalism requires exploitation of children” and in order to “fully address systemic racism (the school to prison pipeline), climate change, patriarchy (gender and LGBTQ disparities), education inequality, and income inequality is to dismantle capitalism and replace it with a new, equitable economic system.”

On June 11, 2021, Bryan Lindstrom posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) that “at the end of the day it’s just my students and me in our classroom and we will be discussing race, class and gender in my history classes, regardless of what laws and policies people want to pass. Critical race theory is a component of everything I do.”


Chicago Teachers Union

Jackson Potter (CTU Vice-President – 2022-Present, CORE, Socialist)

On January 21, 2021, Jackson Potter was on a panel for the DSA-LA titled “A Panel on Union Reform with Union Reformers.”

Jesse Sharkey (Former CTU President, CORE, International Socialist Organization now part of DSA)



Beth Kontos (2018-Present)


Portland Association of Teachers

On November 7, 2023, the Portland DSA posted about supporting the Portland Association of Teachers in its contract negotiations with Portland Public Schools. The union went on strike and closing down classes for over eleven school days.


The Young Democratic Socialists of America, or YDSA, is the youth activist arm of the DSA, and “a national organization of recognized campus chapters and several hundred activists.” The YDSA works with “labor campaigns to organize student workers of staff,” they “campaign to divest our schools from fossil fuels,” and “organize to defend immigrants through campaigns for sanctuary campuses.”

YDSAs can be found in K-12 schools across the country in the form of student clubs. Below is a list of schools that have current or past club offerings.


Los Angeles Unified School District – Cleveland Charter High School

Riverside Unified School District – Riverside STEM High School


Cherry Creek School District – Cherry Creek High School


School District of Palm Beach County – Wellington Community High School


Fayette County Public Schools – Bryan Station High School

New Mexico

Albuquerque Public Schools – Cibola High School


Easton Area School District – Easton Area High School


Austin Independent School District – Anderson High School

Comal Independent School District – Canyon High School

Dallas Independent School District – Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School

None of our lists above are exhaustive. If you are aware of DSA involvement or influence in your schools, on your school board or in the local union, let us know here.