Dozens of races that took place across the country on Tuesday were a showdown over education policies, from school mask requirements to history curricula. While conservatives have capitalized on the education culture wars to win the top election for Virginia’s next governor, the results of other contests have been mixed.
Races in 76 school districts in 22 states featured candidates who took a stand on race in education or critical race theory, according to Ballotpedia, a political monitoring website. Critical Race Theory, a graduate law school concept that examines systemic racism, is rarely taught in schools. He nonetheless ignited the conservatives, foreshadowing a valuable political tool for Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.
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Conservatives campaigning against critical race theory have won school board seats in several suburbs across the country, from Douglas County, Colorado to Southlake, Texas. In the tight race for governor of Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin showed up on a platform touting parental controls on schools and attacking progressive-led initiatives designed to make schools more inclusive. Youngkin took victory on Tuesday night with 50.7% of the vote, a major upheaval for Democrats in a state where President Joe Biden won 10 percentage points last year.
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“Youngkin’s victory will send shockwaves across the country – parents across the country are speaking out because they want more weight and better options for their children,” said Carrie Lukas, vice president of conservative association 501 (c) (4) Independent Women’s Voice, in a statement. “They want school systems that remember they work for parents and children, not for militant bureaucracies. And they want schools that educate, rather than indoctrinate.
Much of the race in recent weeks has focused on Loudoun County, whose school board has been embroiled in controversies since it passed various diversity and inclusion initiatives, including a policy allowing transgender students to ” use the toilets associated with their gender identity. The policy became a rallying point for right-wing experts after reports of two sexual assaults at Loudoun schools, one of which took place in a bathroom. (The author of this case, whose gender identity has not been confirmed by the authorities, was recently convicted; the incident occurred before the entry into force of the integration policy of the kind.)
But Loudoun County has always voted for Youngkin’s Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, in double digits. And elsewhere, many candidates who fought COVID-19 restrictions and anti-racism courts lost their election candidacy on Tuesday, including several who led high-profile campaigns in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Connecticut.
In Wisconsin, an effort to recall members of the Mequon-Thiensville school board accused of promoting critical race theory failed. Each of the incumbents won more than 58% of the vote in their races, according to unofficial results released by the district on Tuesday.
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Yet conservative victories elsewhere suggest that critical race theory will continue to dominate political rhetoric, especially in swing states or tight races in Congress.
In Pennsylvania, for example, four of six school board seats opened in the Central York School District went to Republicans, according to unofficial but final results. The margins in the race were slim, illustrating how difficult debates over anti-racist school initiatives have become. This fall, the district lifted the almost one-year “freeze” on anti-racist books and resources from diverse perspectives.
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In a neighborhood in the Dallas area, critical breed theory was the genesis of a bitter struggle this spring. Shortly after a TikTok video showing a group of white teens shouting racial slurs went viral, the Carroll Independent School District created both a diversity council and an action plan to ensure that its classrooms were actively anti-racist.
But Tuesday night Andrew Yeager, a vocal critic of the diversity plan, easily won a school board seat, beating his opponent, a former teacher, by more than 30 percentage points.
Yeager’s victory follows a spring victory by two other conservative and anti-diversity candidates for the school board. According to NBC News, all three candidates were supported financially by Southlake Families PAC, a group that describes itself as “unabashedly rooted in Judeo-Christian values,” and was formed specifically in response to the diversity plan.
“The results are in and I’m honored to have earned your trust and confidence,” Yeager, a television executive, said in a Facebook post. “As the next CISD school board administrator, I will always work in the best interests of our students, promote transparency in leadership and policies, and work towards responsible financial management. ”
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Contribution: The Associated Press
Contact Alia Wong at (202) 507-2256 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @aliaemily.