State Board of Education set to go further right with new Republican members

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The board of trustees that oversees what 5 million Texas students learn in public schools could move further right after Tuesday’s election.

Above the races loom burning questions that have dominated debates about public education in Texas: critical race theoryLGBTQ student rights and the availability of various library books.

Each of the 15 seats on the state Board of Education is eligible for re-election after redistricting changes the areas it represents. There are currently nine Republicans and six Democrats.

Republican nominees for the board include conservatives who have leaned into red meat issues, including a nominee who was in Washington during the insurgency.

In North Texas, three incumbents appeared well positioned to fill their seats, based on Tuesday’s early results.

  • Democrat Aicha Davis is seeking re-election to her Dallas-area seat against Republican Kathryn Monette.
  • Fort Worth Republican Pat Hardy takes on Democratic challenger Luis Miguel Sifuentes and independent Kathi Arocha.
  • Fairview Republican Pam Little, vice chair of the board, takes on Democrat Alex Cornwallis and Libertarian Christy Mowrey.

In the race between Democrat Tracy Fisher and Republican Evelyn Brooks for District 14, which has been redrawn to dive into the Denton area, preliminary numbers showed Brooks with a wide lead.

Their race was, in some ways, a reflection of the tension over the GOP leadership and its influence on public schools. Fisher, a longtime Coppell school board member, was a lifelong Republican discouraged by culture war rhetoric. Brooks, who primarily homeschooled her daughters, leaned into a platform that denounced critical race theory and comprehensive sex education.

Republican-turned-Democrat and anti-CRT candidate face off in Texas school board race

Another notable race is Houston-area District 7, where Republican Julie Pickren took the lead, based on early results. She is a former administrator who was in Washington during the January 6 uprising.

Newly elected board members reorganize social studies classesgiving them a meaningful voice in how a generation learns the history of Texas, America, and the world.

Has conservative pressure derailed the rewrite of Texas social studies?

The board will also have power over the expansion of charter schools. These high-profile issues draw big money into races that are generally more sleepy.

Patriot Mobile Action – the Christian conservative PAC that funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into supporting local school boards in Tarrant County – weighed in on a few SBOE races.

The furor over so-called critical race theory has prompted much of the increased attention to these races. The CRT is an academic framework that studies how policies and laws support systemic racism, but conservative experts have decried it after confusing it with diversity and inclusion efforts, anti-racism training and multicultural lessons.

The DMN Education Lab deepens coverage and conversation about pressing education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, The Murrell Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Sydney Smith Hicks, Todd A. Williams Family Foundation and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.

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