AMAC Exclusive – Shane Harris
Last Thursday, hundreds of parents, educators, and concerned citizens gathered in Goldsboro, North Carolina, for a “Rally to Save our Schools” hosted by 1776 Action, a group founded in the spirit of former President Trump’s 1776 Commission to protect parents’ rights and promote “honest, patriotic education.” With Republican Senate candidate Ted Budd and North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson in attendance, the event highlighted that education and indoctrination in schools remain top concerns for both candidates and voters, even while economic issues dominate.
As schools resumed session in August and September, education once again exploded into the national spotlight, just in time for the final push to Election Day. A majority of Americans in both parties say education is important to them in deciding their midterm vote, and more parents say they are likely to vote in Tuesday’s elections than said the same four years ago.
Hoping to capitalize on the continuing backlash against woke curriculum and a lack of transparency when it comes to education policies, conservatives have looked to build on the momentum that helped lead to a wave of electoral success in recent months. Throughout the country, conservative candidates for school boards and other state and local posts promising to give parents more input and remove Critical Race Theory and radical gender theory from schools have won a string of victories, nationalizing the fight against far-left ideologies in K-12 classrooms.
In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin made education the centerpiece of his winning campaign last year, proving that the issue can be a winning one for the GOP. In the final weeks of that race, 1776 Action hosted a similar rally at which Youngkin spoke and promised to restore “excellence” to Virginia’s schools. Youngkin also signed the group’s “1776 Pledge,” in which candidates and officeholders affirm that they believe several basic truths about the country and education, including that “the United States of America is an exceptional nation whose people have always strived to form a more perfect union based upon our founding principles” and that “our children and grandchildren should be taught to take pride in their country, to respect our founding principles of liberty and equality, and to have a sense of American history that is both truthful and inspiring.” Pledge signers also promise to “promote a curriculum that teaches that all children are created equal, have equal moral value under God, our Constitution, and the law” and “prohibit any curriculum that pits students against one another on the basis of race or sex.”
Republican Ted Budd is now hoping that his signing of the “1776 Pledge” and participation in 1776 Action’s “Rally to Save our Schools” will also be followed by an electoral victory on Tuesday. Budd, who is vying to hold a key GOP Senate seat, has made parents’ rights a major focus of his campaign, in particular sounding the alarm against sexually explicit content in schools. At the 1776 Action event last week, Budd asserted that “parents – not the government – should control the direction of their children’s education.” He went on to state that “it is the responsibility of schools to prepare our kids to lead productive and successful lives after graduation, not force-feed them the latest woke left-wing propaganda. Critical Race Theory and similar false and destructive ideologies have no place in our classrooms.”
The rally also featured brief remarks from Sandy Smith and Bo Hines, the Republicans running to represent North Carolina’s first and thirteenth congressional districts, respectively, and two more pledge signers. Both Smith and Hines reiterated that students deserve an education free from partisan bias and inappropriate content, and promised to pursue federal legislation that codifies parents’ rights when it comes to their children’s education.
Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson – another pledge signer – also spoke at the event, earning a standing ovation from the crowd on hand. “We’re going to protect our kids and we’re going to get our kids right, come hell or high water,” he promised. “Our schools should be focused on preparing our kids for successful lives. But too many are being abused by activists intent on waging an ideological crusade. It’s completely inappropriate and only vigilant parents can stop it.” Robinson, whom many in GOP circles view as a rising star within the party, has focused heavily on cultural issues like woke indoctrination in schools since his election in 2020.
1776 Action is planning to host a similar event in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on Monday night with their national spokeswoman and former U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Barnette as a headliner. Barnette also spoke at the North Carolina event, where she urged attendees to get involved in their local schools and vote for candidates who commit to protecting parents’ rights. “It’s hard to believe just how corrupted and misguided much of the educational bureaucracy has become,” she said. “It’s time for serious leaders who will use their platform and the power of their office to stand up for parents and children.”
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.