By Jeremiah Poff
Republican gains Tuesday went beyond the high-profile contests in Virginia and extended to down-ballot races nationwide as conservative candidates took incumbent liberal school board members out of office.
While party affiliations are often eschewed in school board races, conservative and GOP-backed candidates won school board election victories over teachers union-backed candidates across the country, often in districts where debate over critical race theory had flared up or draconian school mask policies and other COVID-19 related restrictions were still in place.
In Douglas County, Colorado, just south of Denver, four conservative candidates defeated a slate of candidates backed by local teachers unions and who marketed themselves as the “CommUNITY” slate.
The Denver Gazette reported that the results flipped the school board from a 7-0 teacher-friendly board to one controlled 4-3 by conservative-backed candidates. The catalyst for the results, the outlet reported, was the current board’s decision to defy county health guidance and institute a districtwide mask mandate in schools.
The Douglas County Health Department had ordered school mask policies to be optional, but the district school board implemented one anyway and sued the Health Department over the order.
In Johnston, Iowa, north of Des Moines, opposition to school mask mandates and critical race theory was the platform of three victorious candidates, all of whom had been endorsed by the conservative group 1776 Action, the Des Moines Register reported.
Two of the candidates ousted the sitting school board president and vice president, while the third filled an open seat vacated by a retiring incumbent.
Banning critical race theory was also the rallying cry for Andrew Yeager, who won a landslide victory in his bid to join the school board of the suburban Dallas city of Southlake, NBC reported Tuesday, casting Yeager as a “diversity plan opponent.”
Yeager had aggressively campaigned on shutting down a board proposal, dubbed the Cultural Competence Action Plan, that would have implemented diversity training and modified the district’s school curriculum. With his victory, the majority of the board now opposes the plan.