Texas’ education establishment is thoroughly rocked after conservative candidates opposing critical race theory (CRT) won more than a dozen elections around the state.
The 1776 Project PAC, which opposes the application of CRT in education, endorsed 15 candidates for the May 7th school board elections, and all 15 of them won. The endorsees represent school districts from suburban Dallas-Fort Worth, suburban Austin, and the Houston metropolitan area.
“Parents across Texas were offered a clear choice between the status quo which included years of lockdowns, local mask mandates, social emotional learning, online classes, and critical race theory and demanded a change,” Ryan Girdusky, the 1776 Project PAC’s chairman, told Chalkboard Review staff in an email.
“The 1776 Project PAC spent on behalf of 15 candidates and we were able to amplify the message that school boards could change if conservatives engaged in the public school process. Luckily for children across Texas, they did in big numbers,” Girdusky continued.
One of the most impressive victories came in Frisco, Texas, a traditionally conservative city 20 miles north of downtown Dallas that has seen enormous growth over the past two decades. There, anti-CRT candidates Marvin Lowe and Stephanie Elad overcame considerable opposition from both the local political establishment and the Democratic Party to win their seats.
“My victory is another example of parents taking back their local school boards, which has been occurring across the country for over a year now,” Elad told Chalkboard Review staff in a private communication. “Parents’ rights have slowly been removed from public schools for years and now the tipping point has been reached. They are paying more attention to what is occurring, and what isn’t, in our schools and they now realize it is time for change.”
But an equally impressive victory occurred in Fort Bend County, near Houston. There, Jim Rice, a former president of the Texas Association of School Board Officials, which has refused to denounce the National Association of School Boards for its letter labeling angry parents as domestic terrorists, was defeated by Rick Garcia, a small business owner and former history teacher who was backed by the local Republican Party.
However, some conservative activists are concerned that these victories may not be enough. “This heightened effort by conservatives and concerned parents will have to be sustained for future success,” said Chuck DeVore, the vice president of national initiatives at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“As a right-to-work state with no collective bargaining for government employees, Texas technically doesn’t have teachers’ unions. But many teachers have a fear of being sued for classroom actions and the teachers’ associations offer legal protection against that for some $500 a year in fees—a portion of which goes into politics,” DeVore continued.
Meanwhile, state officials have indicated that parental rights will be of paramount concern going into the 2023 legislative session. In January, Texas governor Greg Abbott announced the development of a “Parental Bill of Rights,” which would include curriculum transparency measures. He followed this with a May 10 declaration that he supported private school choice efforts.
In any case, the May 7 elections represent a seismic shift in Texas politics. The innate trust that had been previously given to community schools is no more, and CRT has been one of the primary catalysts for that shift.