The fight against teaching critical race theory, false history, and radical gender ideology played out on several levels across the country this election with conservatives showing some successes but also some disappointing losses as the expected red wave never materialized.
On the plus side, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott each blew out their left-wing opponents having made education a centerpiece of their campaigns.
But in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Maine, the Republican candidate failed to capitalize on the national mood that was clearly trending in the direction of reform.
Also, several PACs steered millions of dollars to opponents of teaching woke ideology with decidedly mixed results.
The push has been boosted by Republican groups including the 1776 Project PAC, which steered millions of dollars into local school races this year amid predictions of a red wave. But on Tuesday, just a third of its roughly 50 candidates won.
Moms for Liberty, another conservative political group, endorsed more than 250 candidates, with about half winning so far. And despite resounding victories for Republicans including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, several gubernatorial candidates who leaned heavily on parents’ rights fell short, including in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas and Maine.
Liberal groups were somewhat successful in painting parental rights advocates as anti-public school supporters. While this is a nonsensical idea, it gained some traction with less ideological parents who objected to some of the changes in curriculum that the conservatives demanded. Teaching about race has always been a loaded subject in America, and while it’s clear the left has gone off the deep end in trying to shame white children for sins they’re not responsible for, taking responsibility entirely out of the subject of race is not the answer.
The answer is a dialogue between parents and the school board and input from parents into historically accurate curricula. The last thing parents want is to be dictated to by imperious teachers and their corrupt unions.
Ryan Girdusky, founder of the 1776 Project PAC, told the AP, “The messaging needs to be more positive,” he said. “Sometimes you lose moderate voters because you’re too hyperbolic and you’re not speaking truth to something very local to them.”
The 1776 Project PAC had some notable victories in the election along with some significant setbacks.
The group also fell short in its attempt to win majorities on boards in conservative Bentonville, Arkansas, and purple Round Rock, Texas. Its biggest victory was in right-leaning Carroll County, Maryland, where its candidates won three seats. All four of its candidates won in Florida, which has become a stronghold for the movement.
Despite the losses, some conservatives saw hopeful signs in DeSantis and Abbott’s high-profile victories. And even picking up scattered school board seats across the country should be viewed as progress for a Republican Party that has long neglected education as a priority, said Rory Cooper, a GOP strategist and former congressional staffer.
“We’re not seeing Democratic opponents go unopposed like they used to,” he said. “I’m counting this year as a victory.”
One possible reason that parents’ rights candidates weren’t as successful this year as they were in 2021 is that the issues that made parents very angry — unnecessary school closures and ludicrous pandemic restrictions — were mostly missing from the race. Much of the passion had gone out of the movement.
No matter the electoral outcome, parents have been energized about their children’s education in ways they never have been before. That bodes well for the future as teachers’ unions and liberal groups have now been placed on alert and are fielding their own candidates and pouring millions of dollars into these races.
The fight has just begun.