The GOP Has Gotten Smoked in Recent School Board Races – What Happened to CRT and Gender Ideology Momentum?

gop school board losses
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

I remember the night Donald Trump won the Presidency. I was away from home in Alabama for military training and had final exams the next day – I remember that distinctly because I griped the entire day about how they should’ve pushed the exams up a day so that we could stay up to watch the results.

No matter which way the cookie crumbled history would be made, and I wanted to see it.

I naturally watched the results because all Americans should stay awake to find out who their country’s leader is. However, I was not anticipating the result that was delivered. The ‘silent majority’ had spoken and chose The Donald. 

As we slide into another election season, I sense that the GOP is assuming that the same ‘silent majority’ will show up and have their voice heard, that the ‘little guy’ and ‘everyday man and woman’ will say with their votes that they have had enough of Sleepy Joe and his progressive handlers.

But is their assumption misplaced? Are they doomed to disappointment? 

While the right made huge waves, winning school board seats and beating back radical left-wing ideologies like critical race theory, the most recent elections show conservative candidates getting battered.

All Signs Point To Yes

I want to say I was shocked by this past midterms, but honestly, I didn’t expect a red wave.

I am of the same camp as James Woods, who so expertly put his analysis of the midterms as:

“Only one clear truth emerged from this election: this country is evenly divided and each side thinks the other is literally insane.”

This past midterm was the worst performance in decades for the party not in the White House; it was truly embarrassing. The GOP sure did try to rally, though, and spin their epic failures into gold by pointing out their narrow win in the House and, of course, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ ability to solidify Florida as a red state. 

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The midterms showed that it’s not just the Republicans that have a silent constituency; there could be a silent progressive majority. Or perhaps voters just aren’t going to get excited about a man like Dr. Oz even though he essentially ran against a vegetable – much like the kind found in his infamous crudites – and other such candidates of equal ridiculous quality.

But it wasn’t just Senate and House seats that didn’t flip as hoped by the GOP. School board races had and continue to have a unique interest that seemed relatively mundane before, and the results were mixed.

A Bizarre Battleground

School board politics never used to get my blood pumping. Still, lately, I’ve been to several school board meetings in my home county of Loudoun in northern Virginia, the infamous DC Metro. Not every meeting is Fox News-worthy. Often I wonder if my heart has stopped beating out of sheer boredom. 

But thanks to COVID, parents are finally paying attention to what is happening to their children in the public schools they pay for. One would’ve thought school boards across the nation would’ve flipped red, even though school boards are “nonpartisan” most of the time, or at least that’s the lie you’re meant to believe.

However, there were significant losses in the suburbs of Texas last year.

As Democrat winner Tiffanie Harrison stated, she believed the reason the Republican didn’t beat her was:

“Children aren’t red or blue. They just need people that are willing to serve them.”

Interesting take, I would argue you don’t serve the child, you serve the parent, but I’ll save that for later. Fast forward to this month, and Democrats handily beat many of their Republican challengers in school board races in Illinois and Wisconsin.

RELATED: Biden Vows to Veto Republican Title IX Bill Protecting Women’s and Girl’s Sports

As the executive director of the National Education Association, Kim Anderson, pointed out:

“Where culture war issues were being waged by some school board candidates those issues fell flat with voters. The takeaway for us is that parents and community members and voters want candidates who are focused on strengthening our public schools, not abandoning them.”

Somebody pinch me; I actually agree with someone from the NEA.

I Got 99 Problems

The public school system has been terrible for over 30 years; parents have just now woken up to it because they were forced to. I am one of the lucky ones who can homeschool my kids, but many families do not have this luxury.

Last year I volunteered on a campaign, and my candidate’s challengers often declared they would “Abolish the Department of Education!” and “Get Rid of Public Schools!” which was met with uproarious applause at all the GOP events. But I knew, and they knew deep down, that they wouldn’t be able to do either of those things, nor did most of them actually want to.

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Public education, if focused on, you know, education, is a Godsend for single parents, low-income families, and countless other families that do not have the luxury to pursue alternative schooling for their children.

The founder of the conservative 1776 Project PAC, Ryan Girdusky, rightly said after the recent school board losses:

“Don’t assume that a blanket message on critical race theory or transgender issues is going to claim every district – it’s very personalized.”

Wait a second, you mean you can’t just tell people all of their problems and no solutions and expect they’ll vote for you? What a novel concept.

Should We Dial It Down?

I know what you’re thinking, dear reader; you are thinking to yourself, Kat, these are school board races. They don’t matter anyway and aren’t a barometer for larger elections with more significant consequences, such as for President.

First, let me tell you, these days, nothing is much of a barometer; why do we even have pollsters? They don’t get it right, and when they get it wrong, they always blame the voters.

Second, you need to pay attention if you think the Presidency is more consequential than your local school board. We’ve essentially had an overripe avocado as Commander-in-Chief for the last two years, and so far, by the grace of God, we haven’t been wiped clean off the planet. 

School boards matter immensely as the members of those boards influence what can and can’t be taught to your children, the decisions that affect the safety of your children, and how your tax dollars are spent. These are the same school boards that opt to teach children about their various privileges, as seen in Fairfax County, Virginia, or have bathroom problems, like in Loudoun County. 

However, even with these fundamentally wrong actions happening in schools nationwide, some in the GOP advise watering down the message.

Republican pollster Dan Judy said of candidates addressing trans issues:

“The tone of how this is handled is extremely important because the vast majority of people, regardless of their views on trans issues, don’t want to treat people, especially children, cruelly.”

So, should Republican candidates dial back their attacks on school boards that wish to allow boys into girls’ locker rooms, bathrooms, sports, and various other previously protected areas for girls?

Too Late?

The bad news is politically and strategically, Mr. Judy is not wrong, more than likely. We live in a world where the average voter is even more uninformed, and at worst misinformed, than ever before.

Hell, I got into a debate with a former work associate who claimed I participate in indoctrination because I don’t teach my six-year-old the benefits of authoritarianism. Just meditate on that for a minute; I’ll wait.

The worse news is that we are all to blame for the state of politics today. Our political parties on either side have become lazy, assuming that white suburban women will vote for them. After all, we are all ‘Mama Bears’ – a term I find irritating as if the only thing that incenses me is anything pertaining to my children.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said of the recent Republican school board losses:

“Fortunately, the voters saw through the hidden extremists who were running for school board…”

No, J.B., the voters didn’t see through anything; they probably didn’t care enough to pay attention, many forgot to vote, and others voted for the name they recognized versus the issues that mattered. Much as it will be, I predict when voters head to the booths in 2024. So much for the silent majority.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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