The Midterms brought some bad news for public education – Mother Jones – Mother Jones | Team Cansler

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How he delivered In his landslide re-election victory speech Tuesday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis repeated one of his favorite slogans: “In Florida, the awakened is dying.” DeSantis has emerged as the loudest advocate for parental rights, signing legislation to end Critical Race Theory (CRT) teaching and debate about gender identity and sexuality in schools. By building this political brand, he has not only bolstered his own standing, but symbiotically ushered a group of conservative foot soldiers into office – with the help of an army of mothers – where they will continue the mission of rooting out the “evil ideology” from the Classrooms at local school boards. “The DeSantis education agenda was on the ballot,” a spokesman for the governor’s campaign said in a statement after the election NBC News“And voters have made their voice clear: we want education, not indoctrination.”

DeSantis is credited with driving one of the country’s most sweeping legislation to expand school choice, a conservative agenda promoted by former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to channel public funds to private and charter schools involved with the proliferation of Parental allowance has gained momentum, rights groups nationwide. The unprecedented participation of Republican presidential candidates in local school board races bore fruit. Twenty-four of 30 candidates endorsed by DeSantis won elections, including six in the runoff.

Not all candidates who voiced extreme positions needed the governor’s Midas touch to do well. A newly elected Collier County school board member who is not a DeSantis supporter said after winning the election that he would like to see corporal punishment returned to the classroom and fewer “rights” for LGBTQ students, the school said Naples Daily News. On his website, Jerry Rutherford says he supports having cameras in the classroom and eliminating “leftist anti-American propaganda” from K-12 education.

But it wasn’t just in Florida, or even at local school board races, that anti-CRT warriors emerged victorious. In states like Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, conservatives alleged to be dealing with culture war issues have claimed positions as state education councilors and education inspectorates. Broadly speaking, state boards of education have the authority to set statewide policies and academic and teacher standards, while superintendents oversee state departments of education. In some cases, these races presented voters with diametrically opposed candidates: longtime educators and proponents of public schools on one side, and advocates of academic freedom and school choice who support coupon programs and homeschooling on the other.

South Carolina is a case in point. Republican Ellen Weaver, a defender of vocal school choice and president and CEO of conservative think tank Palmetto Promise Institute, beat veteran teacher Lisa Ellis to become the state’s next education inspector. It boiled down to promises to expand educational opportunities and pass a parental rights bill, an idea popularized by DeSantis with the Don’t Say Gay Act. “Parents have the God-given right and ultimate responsibility for their children’s education,” says their campaign website. “We must defend their unequivocal right to be fully informed about their child and to make decisions for their child: academically, medically or otherwise. South Carolina schools will work with parents, not usurp them.” As a candidate, Weaver condemned the presence of “pornographic” books in school libraries and “wokeism and sexualization agendas.”

In Oklahoma, Governor-elect Kevin Stitt secured another term in a duel with Democrat Joy Hofmeister, the state’s superintendent of public education. Hofmeister will be replaced by Stitt’s choice and current Secretary of Education, Republican Ryan Walters, who received more votes than Stitt in his race. A self-proclaimed “trusted and trusted conservative,” pro-life, and Second Amendment supporter, Walters pledged to eliminate the CRT’s “dangerous and racist philosophy” from every curriculum. “In Oklahoma, we will do more than any other state in the country to empower parents,” he said on election night. Both Stitt and Walters have backed a failed bill to implement a voucher program that would allow parents to use public funds to fund private schools.

Culture war fanatics haven’t had success everywhere. In some gubernatorial elections, these candidates lost their bids or underperformed. At the local level, sweeping through voters rejected the majority of extremist school board candidates in Michigan, where Democrats will have one trifecta with control of the governorship and state legislature for the first time in decades. In Colorado, Democrats retained their majority on the state board of education, which oversees about 2,000 public schools. This month, the board approved partisan revisions to make the social studies standards more inclusive of marginalized perspectives from Black, Latino, Asian American, Indigenous peoples and religious minorities, as required by state law, but not without controversy. Democrats have fended off efforts by Republican board members to replace a civics curriculum developed by experts, teachers and community members with one that focuses on “informed and intelligent patriotism” and on a project called American Birthright by the conservative education coalition Civics Alliance based Republicans pushed to remove references to LGBTQ people and minority groups.

Republican as of Monday morning Tom Horne was a few hundred votes behind in the contest for Arizona superintendent. Horne, who held that role from 2003 to 2011, led a fight to ban the Mexican-American degree program in the Tucson Unified School District and worked to phase out bilingual instruction in favor of an English-only curriculum. This time around, his priorities include “getting critical race theory out of schools” and “parental choices.” Horne has also criticized his opponent, incumbent Kathy Hoffman, for focusing on social emotional learning, arguing that “teachers are discouraged from disciplining misbehaving students because discipline hurts their feelings,” and his idea Teaching accurate history seems to be defined by “patriotism.”

Elsewhere in the country, conservatives are bound to have more leverage in national politics. Nebraska elected three conservatives to the state board of education. In Texas, where all 15 state education board seats were up for election, 10 Republicans were elected, including several who opposed CRT. Among them was Julie Pickren, a conservative attorney and former Alvin Independent School District board member, who attended the January 6 rally in Washington, DC. In a poll of candidates, she advocated displaying the Ten Commandments in public school buildings (“Society needs reminders of God’s law to restore peace, justice and security”) and said children should be taught that there are only two sexes are. The new state board of education will play a crucial role in updating social studies standards, a revision that was pushed back to 2025 after criticism that the proposed changes would raise controversial issues related to CRT and “the belittling of the Judeo-Christian values ​​of our Society” included. ”

In Kansas, the state education board also saw a rightward swing, with seven Republicans and three Democrats now making up the ten-member board. Danny Zeck, who received more than 60 percent of the vote against the Democratic nominee, opposes transgender students playing sports that conform to their gender identity and believes teachers should be armed with licenses to wear in schools. “I’m concerned about some of the extremists that are finding their way into our local and state school boards,” said principal Sheila Albers, who lost her election for a district covering parts of Johnson County to conservative incumbent Michelle Dombrosky — backed by Kansans for Life PAC, which is dedicated to electing pro-life candidates. “I feel like there’s an effort to disappoint our public schools and not support teachers as professionals in the classroom, which I think ultimately harms children.”

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