Some of Texas’ most politically polarizing elections don’t take winners to Washington, D.C., but to Austin where a 15-member education board decides what 5.39 million public students learn.
The political races for State Board of Education are described as “sleepy” contests that sit lower on Election Day ballots and don’t draw media attention. Candidates rarely raise the millions in political contributions that grab national interest. In fact, stretching several thousand dollars and hand-shaking at candidate forums is the norm.
“I think they suffer the same problem as all races in public education,” said Troy Reynolds, founder of Texans for Public Education (T4PE), a group that supports public education and teachers. “When it comes to education, people’s eyes start to glaze over a little bit.”
But education advocates said more voters need to pay attention. These board members decide Texas curriculum and textbooks. Their actions get national attention — as was the case weeks ago when they discussed lessons on the Alamo and whether historical figure Helen Keller should be struck from third grade lessons on citizenship.