Conservative school board candidates emerged victorious in a number of elections across the country this week, even as the predicted Republican wave failed to materialize in the nation’s midterm Congressional elections.
The victories by conservative, pro-parental rights school board candidates spanned Republican-leaning states like Florida and South Carolina to swing states like Michigan and more Democratic-leaning states such as Maryland and New Jersey.
Tina Descovich, the co-founder of the parent activist group Moms for Liberty, told the Washington Examiner that the success of parental rights school board candidates was a testament to the continued resonance of the grassroots parents movement that began during the height of school closures and lockdowns during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The more work we do, the more we shine light on what’s happening [in schools], the more people get awakened,” Descovich said. “Once we have these parental rights candidates seated, we will see them making decisions and [enacting] policies that bring parents back into the schools. … All research points that when parents are involved in their child’s education, that is the best predictor of educational success.”
Moms for Liberty endorsed 270 school board candidates across the country prior to Election Day. While a number of races, especially in California, remain uncalled, Descovich said that the organization is on track to see over 50% of its preferred candidates win.
“Parental rights are fundamental rights and it is nonpartisan,” Descovich said. “I don’t understand why so many people have tried to take that issue and divide us. All parents that I know … even my friends that are Democrats, are registered independents … they want to direct the upbringing of their children. They don’t want someone else telling them how to raise their child.”
Corey DeAngelis, a senior fellow at the pro-school choice organization the American Federation for Children, noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that as parental rights issues became more prevalent and school choice policies have become increasingly popular, even Democratic candidates have softened their tone on education issues.
“After Tuesday night, it’s clear that for both parties, it is now becoming politically profitable to support education freedom. That’s because parents have woken up,” DeAngelis wrote. “There may not have been a red wave or a blue wave, but there was a nationwide school-choice wave. … Josh Shapiro (D) of Pennsylvania and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) of Illinois both endorsed private-school choice less than two months before the election and came out victorious. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) of New York also won after she publicly supported—for the first time — eliminating the cap on New York City charter schools.”
The organization did not fund any candidate’s campaigns, with the exception of Florida, where the group maintains a small political action committee.
Conservative school board candidates in Florida had a banner night on Election Day, winning races all over the state. Several of the candidates who won were endorsed by Moms for Liberty and by state Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who took the unusual step of weighing in on the local elections.
But in addition to Florida, Descovich said that the organization’s endorsed candidates were successful everywhere, especially in South Carolina, where conservative candidates flipped control of several school boards, including the Charleston school board, from a liberal majority to a conservative one.
The group was not the lone organization to engage in school board election campaigning. Another PAC, the 1776 Project PAC, backed dozens of candidates all over the country with digital and print advertisements, many of whom also won.
The PAC’s efforts helped conservative candidates take control of the Brandywine, Michigan, school board, as well as the Carroll County school board in Maryland.
But several high-profile school board races remain undecided in the days after Election Day.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, where the school board made national headlines in 2021 amid allegations it had covered up the rape of a student while attempting to pass a pro-transgender policy, conservative candidate Tiffany Polifko is clinging to a razor-thin lead of fewer than 200 votes over Nick Gothard, who had the support of the local Democratic Party and the teachers union for the board’s Broad Run district seat.
The teachers union’s preferred candidate for the Leesburg district seat, Erika Ogedegbe, currently holds a much more comfortable lead and is likely to prevail against conservative candidate Michael Rivera and self-described independent Lauren Shernoff.
In Arizona, the race for two seats on the Scottsdale school board remains unresolved, though conservative candidate Amy Carney is currently among the top two vote-getters. Election results in Arizona have been slowly trickling in for days and will likely not be fully reported until next week.