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Paul Dorr is a little-known figure who has led numerous successful campaigns against bond issues in rural America over the past 25 years. He opposes public education. He believes that all education should be centered in religion and the church. Dorr is also active in opposing abortion and supporting gun rights. He burns books that he does not approve of.
A viral Facebook video offers some clues. It shows Paul Dorr, father of Aaron, Ben and Chris Dorr, burning books he checked out from a local library.
It turns out the elder Dorr educated his 11 children at home, and took them along to protest outside abortion clinics as part of Operation Rescue.
Like his sons, Paul Dorr is active in politics. He’s developed a reputation as a fierce opponent of public schooling and works as a hired gun to help defeat school bond referendums across the Midwest.
But as Paul Dorr says, his reason for attacking public schools is “almost always not my client’s reason.” His clients may simply want to keep property taxes low.
But Paul Dorr’s plan is to eliminate public education entirely – to see the public education system “one day be gone, and restore education back into the hands of families, the parents and the Christians.”
This article describes his efforts to defeat a school bond issue in Worthington, Minnesota, intended to build a new high school.
Paul Dorr is:
…a vehement opponent of public schools and supporter of religious-centric home-schooling who’s led campaigns that have helped defeat scores of bond issues in nine states — mostly in the upper Midwest — for the past 25 years. “Public education is a sin against God,” he has said.
In the election season three years ago, Dorr was working as the communications consultant for a group called the Worthington Citizens For Progress Committee. It had created the flier.
Dorr would eventually sharpen the anti-school-bond group tactics with a Facebook page, website, videos and memes to target local businesses, politicians and media.
The material accused the school district of exaggerating the harm if the bond didn’t pass. It claimed the school board was mismanaging money and was incompetent, even deaf. The committee encouraged people not to eat at restaurants where school bond information was displayed and wrote critically about business leaders who supported the new school.
Dorr, who doesn’t live in Worthington — or in Minnesota, for that matter — was deploying tools of attack that seemed more fitting for political combat on a national stage, not a school bond vote in the American countryside. People were stunned.
Two months after the first signs of Dorr at King Turkey Day, the district lost its referendum vote — the first of four failed attempts between the fall of 2016 and the winter of 2019 to raise taxes for a new school.