In the March Primary Election, voters will be choosing between four Republican candidates for the State Board of Education District 12 seat. 

The State Board of Education (SBOE) sets the policies and standards for Texas’ government schools. This includes reviewing and adopting curriculum as well as establishing graduation requirements. 

The incumbent SBOE member, Pam Little, is also currently the Vice Chair of the SBOE. Little is a business owner of a Dallas-Fort Worth fencing company, and has a background in education, including as a college instructor. 

Chad Green is a current member of the McKinney Independent School District Board of Trustees. His background is in business development, and he has also helped with educational organizations such as McGraw-Hill, the Northwest Evaluation Association, and The Princeton Review.

Real estate agent Jamie Kohlmann has a background in nonprofit management, consulting, and development. She also worked as an education policy analyst at Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Dr. Matt Rostami opened his own medical practice in Texas and is a retina specialist and surgeon at Lone Star Eye Specialists in Frisco, Texas.

Little, Green, and Kohlmann responded to a list of questions sent by Texas Scorecard on how the candidates will handle current education issues. Rostami declined to answer.

When asked how each candidate will determine suitability for instructional materials, Green and Kohlmann said the suitability rubric would be the main source of information. Little said parental involvement and adhering to state laws are also a crucial component.

“First and foremost we need to prioritize parental involvement and respect for parental authority,” Little said. “Parents should be regarded as the primary decision-makers in their child’s education, and their input should be sought before any instructional materials are selected. This ensures that the values and beliefs of families are respected and reflected in the educational materials provided to students.”

“Furthermore, adherence to state laws, such as SB 3, the Texas Penal Code, and the Texas Education Code, is crucial in evaluating the suitability of instructional materials. These laws provide a framework for determining what is appropriate for students in terms of content and presentation,” Little continued.

“The rubric adopted in December is strong and capable of filtering out materials that are age inappropriate,” Green commented.

Kohlmann said that aside from the rubric, three main questions should be asked.

“Do these instructional materials enable a young adult to more readily thrive in a profession of his or her choice that adds value to society? Do the values infused in these instructional material lead the learner to adopt a mindset of personal responsibility and a bias to action rather than adopt a grievance and victim-first mindset? Are these materials free of political bias, allowing students to assess evidence and make up their own minds, free of coercion?” Kohlmann said.

“If the answer to any of those questions is no, then they don’t belong in Texas schools,” she concluded. 

On whether health materials should use terms like “pregnant person” or “people who menstruate,” all three candidates gave a resounding “NO.”

“Absolutely not! As a staunch advocate for children’s education, I have consistently opposed the use of such terminology,” Little said. “At the November SBOE meeting, I vocally challenged a publisher for including such language in their materials. By standing firm against this attempt to politicize and distort scientific concepts, I ensured that the book in question was rightfully rejected by the board. It’s imperative to maintain a commitment to factual accuracy and uphold traditional values in educational content and promoting American exceptionalism.”

“No. A pregnant person is a mother or woman,” Green said.

“Absolutely not. Only women (with XX chromosomes!) can be pregnant or menstruate,” Kohlmann said.

Each candidate was also asked how they will ensure that history is being taught factually, without influence from Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or Critical Race Theory perspectives.

“Ideologies such as the 1619 Project, which seek to rewrite history through a woke lens, have no place in our social studies instructional materials,” Little said.

“We need to reject the influence of DEI/CRT. I will fight to ensure that students receive a well-rounded education that equips them with a true understanding of the past,” she continued. “Drawing upon my background in history, I have fought for the importance of teaching students about America’s exceptional journey, including its founding principles, dedication to liberty, and role as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. By grounding historical education in the principles of American exceptionalism, we instill in students a sense of pride in their country’s heritage and inspire them to uphold its values.”

“That is a deeper issue,” Green said. “We will have to train and completely read the materials and have a rubric that shows 1619 project and DEI and how they may be embedded but ultimately our reviewers will have to be employees that are not woke. TEA personnel needs to be restructured and overhauled.”

“‘Control-F’ (Find) for ‘1619’ and excise any misguided ideology from our history textbooks,” Kohlmann said. “Any mention of equity or broad based identity-related history must be eliminated and replaced with the role of individual initiative and merit.  We must present our flaws with the lens of learning from the past that allows us to drive forward to a worthy future.  Finally, we must ensure the horrid histories of Communism, Marxism, and other destructive ideologies are presented in an authentic, fact-based way.”

Regarding the support of school choice in Texas, all candidates said “YES.”

“Absolutely, I wholeheartedly support school choice for Texas students. Parents are the primary stakeholders in their children’s education, and they should have the freedom to choose the educational environment that best suits their child’s needs and values,” Little said. 

“By promoting school choice, we promote competition and innovation in education, ultimately leading to improved outcomes for students,” she continued. “Every child deserves access to a high-quality education tailored to their individual learning styles and aspirations, and school choice is instrumental in making that a reality.”

“Yes, I support school choice,” Green said.

“Unequivocally yes—and my public record of the past 18 years (former Education Policy Analyst at TPPF, former Executive Director at Texas Families First, and now mom of three who took my oldest two out of school early last spring to drive to Austin and support school choice bills on the House Public Ed testimony day) validates this,” Kohlmann commented.

The primary election is March 5.

Amelia McKenzie

Amelia is a senior at Liberty University in Virginia. She is studying Digital Journalism and is currently a fellow with Texas Scorecard.