It goes without saying that the last several years have been a bleak time for public education. But in the 2023 elections, educators, parents, and education advocates have reason to celebrate. Across the country, many results showed a ray of hope when it comes to students’ rights, increased funding, censorship, and other crucial matters affecting our schools. Let’s dive into the good news and see what the future holds for education.
1. Texas passes some pro-education amendments
In the heart of Texas, voters have spoken loud and clear. A series of constitutional amendments that will have a significant impact on education has been approved. Here are just a few of the propositions that passed:
- Allowing cities and counties to exempt child care providers from property taxes on any facility used to run a child care business.
- Authorizing the state to create the Texas University Fund, a $3.9 billion endowment to help “emerging” research universities across the state enhance their research capabilities.
- Providing some retired Texas teachers with cost-of-living raises to their monthly pension checks.
Though many election results in Texas saw an increase in demonstrably partisan board members, these amendments are a start for a state with a notably anti-education leadership. Education advocates hope this is the start of a wave of similar positive actions.
2. Pennsylvania’s Moms for Liberty members lose critical districts
Pennsylvania witnessed a remarkable shift in its school board landscape. Right-wing school board members connected to the extremist group Moms for Liberty lost in two critical districts: Pennridge and Central Bucks. These boards flooded their zones with new policies last year, including banning Banned Books Week, dismantling DEI initiatives, and requiring schools to out LGBTQ youth with a “gender identification procedure.”
This electoral outcome sends a powerful message that values diversity, inclusion, and equitable education. It’s a testament to the fact that education should be guided by expertise, not ideology.
3. A victory for trans kids in Kentucky
In Kentucky, despite $2 million in aggressive anti-trans ads, governor Andy Beshear surged to victory. Beshear, who vetoed legislation prohibiting gender-affirming care, even secured victory by a larger margin than in 2019.
While not directly connected to education, this outcome reinforces that DEI matters in our educational system and in our political leadership. It’s a victory for every student who deserves to learn in a safe and supportive environment.
4. DEI candidates win a 6-3 majority in “culture wars” battleground district in Virginia
Loudoun County, a suburb of Washington, D.C., gained national attention after several contentious school board meetings in 2021 and investigations on the teaching of critical race theory. This year, with all nine seats up for grabs and only two incumbents running, the winning candidates ran campaigns focused on the district’s stellar reputation for academics, a return to DEI initiatives, and toning down the culture wars.
Though the 2023 elections certainly had their share of not-great news, many results provided us with a beacon of hope for our schools. Let’s extend that hope toward advocating for a better future for education, which means a better future for us all.