School board races across the United States this week were a bit of a mixed bag for candidates opposed to what they say is the implementation of progressive ideologies in public schools although a political action committee says it has helped flip over 100 school board seats to conservatives in the last year.
With the increased attention in recent years on education and parental protests over what is being taught in their children's public schools, there was more national focus than usual on local school board elections during the 2022 midterms.
National interest groups launched in recent years have supported hundreds of conservative school board candidates devoted to pushing back against attempts to implement what they say is critical race theory, "woke" ideologies or sexually explicit material in classrooms and school libraries.
The 1776 Project PAC announced Wednesday that "from November 2021 to November 2022, the 1776 Project PAC has flipped 100 school board seats across the country." The political action committee is dedicated to "electing school board members nationwide who want to reform our public education system by promoting patriotism and pride in American history."
In an interview with The Christian Post, 1776 Project PAC founder Ryan Girdusky estimated that about 20 of the 50 candidates his organization endorsed won in Tuesday's elections.
The group highlighted some of its victories Tuesday night, reporting that both of its endorsed candidates won school board races in Pinellas County, Florida, and one seat apiece in Florida's Flagler County, Indian River County and Volusia County.
1776 Project PAC also reported that all four of its candidates won school board seats in Brandywine, Michigan, stressing: "We just flipped the Brandywine school board from liberal to conservative."
A similar scenario played out in Carroll County, Maryland, where all three of its endorsed candidates won, once again flipping the composition of the school board from majority liberal to majority conservative.
1776 Project PAC's endorsed candidates won seats on the school board in Bedford, Virginia, and Alliance, Ohio. Only one of its five endorsed candidates for the school board in Bentonville, Arkansas won their race.
Comparing results of school board races in the U.S. with the 1776 Project PAC's list of endorsed candidates reveals a mixed success rate for the group in terms of getting its endorsed candidates elected Tuesday night.
While the aforementioned candidates emerged victorious in their races, the 1776 Project PAC-endorsed candidates for school board seats in Hernando County, Florida; Lee County, Florida; Polk County, Florida; Niles, Michigan; St. Joseph, Michigan and Round Rock, Texas came up short.
Unofficial results from the Maryland State Board of Elections show two of the three 1776 Project PAC's endorsed candidates occupying two of the top four spots in the school board election in Frederick County, Maryland, about an hour's drive from Washington, D.C. The four candidates who receive the highest percentages win seats on the school board.
The 1776 Project PAC's efforts to elect school board candidates opposed to progressive ideology date back to 2021.
That year, the 1776 Project PAC saw four of its six endorsed candidates win school board races in New Jersey, two of its three endorsees win school board elections in both Ohio and Minnesota and three of its four preferred candidates in Virginia win their elections. Additionally, the group had a 70% success rate with its school board candidates in Kansas and a 100% success rate in Colorado.
Eleven of the 17 candidates the 1776 Project PAC supported in school board races in Pennsylvania last year emerged victorious as well. In school board races in Texas earlier this year, the group's endorsees had a 100% success rate.
In addition to the school board races, the 1776 Project PAC also supported the ultimately successful Republican candidate Ryan Walters in his bid to become Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Education. Girdusky also reported success in state board of education elections in Kansas and Texas.
Moms for Liberty, which characterizes its mission as "fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government," is another group that endorsed school board candidates running for office all over the U.S.
Many of their endorsed candidates overlapped with the list of candidates supported by the 1776 Project PAC, although Moms for Liberty endorsed more than 270 candidates in all.
Daniel Buck, the editor-in-chief of the education publication The Chalkboard Review, reported that, based on early reporting, the group won "over 50% of their school board races." He noted that candidates endorsed by teachers' unions "tend to win 70% of their races."
In updates posted on social media following Tuesday's election, Moms for Liberty reported that the Brick School Board of Education and the Point Pleasant Beach Board of Education in Ocean County, New Jersey, "now have school board members that value parental rights."
Additionally, Moms for Liberty indicated that all three of its endorsed candidates won school board races in Ocean City, New Jersey; five of its eight endorsed candidates won seats on the school board in Charleston County, South Carolina; six of its supported candidates emerged victorious in school board elections in Berkeley County, South Carolina; and four seats on the school board in New Hanover County, North Carolina, went to candidates the group supported.
Moms for Liberty touted additional victories in Rock Hill School District and Fort Mill School District in York County, South Carolina; Tipton, Indiana; and Iredell, North Carolina. Two of the three candidates supported by the group to serve on the school board in Shelby County, Tennessee, won their races, as did the organization's chosen candidates in Pulaski County, Arkansas; Brevard County, Florida; Collier County, Florida; Lee County, Florida; Manatee County, Florida; Pasco County, Florida; and Volusia County, Florida.
According to unofficial results, the candidate endorsed by Moms for Liberty also emerged victorious in a school board race in Laramie County, Wyoming, as did two out of three candidates it supported in Natrona County, Wyoming. In Harford County, Maryland, unofficial results show three of the four candidates endorsed by Moms for Liberty winning their races.
On the other hand, Moms for Liberty's endorsed candidates appear to have come up short in Hernando County, Florida; St. Johns County, Florida; Nueces County, Texas; Travis County, Texas; and Williamson County, Texas.
As many parts of the country continue counting their votes, particularly the heavily populated state of California, the group's overall success rate remains unclear.
Parents' rights groups have also emerged at the state level.
A look at the complete list of candidates endorsed by the Minnesota Parents' Alliance shows that the 50 winners declared so far account for less than half of the 119 candidates the group endorsed going into the 2020 election. Five of the 13 Minnesota candidates endorsed by Moms for Liberty and the Minnesota Parents' Alliance won.
"I think it's accurate," Girdusky said of the exit polling. "For people who were concerned about the general trajectory of their local education, that mattered a lot."
"People sit there, and they change their entire life for their children. They move to different school districts; they invest their life savings. This is not something small to them," he added. "This is their entire life, so they are nervous about the general trajectory, and it's not just the woke stuff."
Girdusky said many parents wonder, "are my children going to actually learn anything?" and "is this investment going to help them in their future?" A large portion of parents, he contends, are saying, 'I don't know.'"
"For a lot of Democrats, they insisted that all those concerns were fake," Girdusky said. "They weren't willing to give credibility to people's general concerns, and I think that's where the backlash comes from."
Girdusky said politicians can capitalize on education in future elections, saying they must "speak to parents' concerns."
"I think we're generally seeing a trajectory and a movement among voters who view Republicans as being the party of public education, which is a much newer development," Girdusky said.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org