A sea change in public school districts across the country appears to be on the horizon as conservative candidates are running for – and winning – crucial school board seats. As the curriculum debate has continued over the past two years, concerned parents are doing more than just complaining at board meetings about progressive ideology being infused into K-12 classrooms. They are seeking a seat at the table. The question is: Will this development result in actual change?
Texas has seen the most dramatic electoral shift so far. In Tarrant County, ten of the 11 right-leaning school board candidates won their elections – and the other still might, pending the outcome of a runoff in June.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) and far-left ideas on gender identity and sexual orientation are at the center of the nationwide conflict. Conservatives have taken issue with what appears to be a widespread attempt to indoctrinate young children with progressive ideology without their parents’ knowledge. It became a hot-button issue during the COVID-19 pandemic when children were taking their lessons at home through online Zoom meetings. Parents began hearing the material being taught to their children. What followed was a national trend in which parents showed up at school board meetings to vociferously denounce the material.
The movement to take back America’s school boards is receiving a massive outpouring of financial support. PACs and corporations dropped hundreds and thousands of dollars into Texas candidates seeking to oust school board members who have allowed or even supported the injection of leftist ideas into the state’s classrooms.
High-profile conservatives tout these wins as evidence the public is on their side in the education debate. “It’s a sign that the issues we’re prioritizing are the ones that win elections,” Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi told The Dallas Morning News. “You’re gonna see us broaden the scope of the number of races we will be involved in in the future.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also celebrated the victories. He tweeted:
“Conservatives won school board elections across Texas.
“Parents are more involved and active in school elections and school policies than ever before.
“No one cares more about children than their parents.
“The power of parents will continue to expand in Texas.”
But if current developments are any indication, the Lone Star State is not the only one that will see significant conservative school board victories. In Nebraska, two candidates who campaigned on fighting back against leftist ideas in the classroom are making a strong showing in their races. During recent primary elections, Sherry Jones of Grand Island and Elizabeth Tegtmeier of North Platte won major victories. Jones won about two-thirds of the votes in her district. Tegtmeier received most of the votes in her region with a 3-to-1 advantage over the runner-up.
Of course, one would be remiss to overlook what is happening in Florida at the moment. The Tallahassee Democrat noted that “Florida Republicans are amping up their focus” on school board races and “promoting a sophisticated training and broad recruitment campaign expected to result in dozens of conservative contenders” in these campaigns, which start next month. Their objective is to win dominance over each of the Sunshine State’s school districts and send the progressive types packing.
When it comes to combatting progressive ideology in K-12 classrooms, conservatives seem to be successful in the messaging battle. But politically, they have not yet gained much ground. Republican governors and conservative state legislatures in Texas and Florida have passed laws designed to limit the teaching of far-leftist ideas on race, gender identity, and sexuality. But state-level measures do not seem to be as effective.
A more localized solution could be what is needed to kickstart the movement to take these concepts out of the classroom. School board members are closer to the situation and have more direct influence. And when it comes to government solutions, this may be as effective as one can expect.
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