Across North Texas, school board candidates backed by powerful parent movements won big in Saturday’s local elections, knocking out incumbents and district insiders.
In almost every race where parents stepped up to run, voters chose candidates who were outside the local education establishment and who campaigned on respecting parents and putting kids first.
Winning candidates promised to focus on literacy over leftist ideology like critical race theory and sexualizing kids, as well as academic and financial transparency and accountability.
“This is a national movement of parents all over the country who are tired of the liberal agenda in our schools and the fiscal irresponsibility that Texas taxpayers have had to pay for,” said Kathy May, a Keller mom and grassroots activist for parental rights in education.
One of the biggest sets of victories happened in Keller, a suburb north of Dallas-Fort Worth, where sexually explicit books in school libraries were a hot topic.
Keller Independent School District voters elected Micah Young, Joni Shaw Smith, and Sandi Walker—a sweep of pro-parent candidates that knocked two incumbents off the board and created a conservative majority along with trustee Dr. Charles Randklev.
The three were among nine area school board candidates highlighted by Gateway Church during their April 30 service as “church family members.” All nine won in Saturday’s local elections.
Voters in Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District elected conservatives Kathy Florence-Spradley and former Colleyville City Councilmember Tammy Nakamura, who beat an incumbent.
Conservative grassroots education advocates celebrated the wins, but Nakamura noted the narrow margins.
“Too close for comfort,” she said.
Conservative voters delivered another close win in Frisco Independent School District, where parent-movement candidates Stephanie Elad and Marvin Lowe rocked the local education establishment.
Elad, a Frisco mom and outspoken education advocate, easily defeated two challengers for an open seat.
Lowe, a father of four Frisco ISD students, beat incumbent Natalie Hebert by just 53 votes.
“Something has changed over the past several years and it has not been for the better,” he said in response to an attack by McKinney Mayor George Fuller on Lowe and Elad, in which he endorsed their opponents.
Lowe said the district’s CRT-inspired policies and curricula “short circuit excellence in our district.” Sexually explicit library books created controversy as well.
Hebert reportedly lashed out on Facebook following her loss to Lowe. Screen shots provided to Texas Scorecard appear to show Hebert accusing opponent Kelly Karthik and local realtor Hava Johnston of being “responsible for grave damage” to the district.
In another close race, Garrett Linker beat Lane Chamblee by about two dozen votes for a seat on the board in Prosper Independent School District, where parents and officials also clashed over explicit books.
While the candidates’ campaigns were challenging, the really hard work lies ahead for the newly elected school board members.
“It’s imperative that the citizens who got these new people elected stay engaged,” said Danielle Weston, one of two Round Rock ISD board members fighting for reforms in their district. “Don’t underestimate the number of adults who benefit from the status quo. They will not give up easily.”
Election results are unofficial until votes are canvassed, and candidates in close races may request recounts.
Hebert announced Monday she is asking for a recount.
But Saturday’s school board elections showed that Texans want changes in their public schools and expect school officials to respect parents, focus on academics, and put kids first.