By Laura Zorc via Fox News
To put it simply, the outcome of the midterm elections was not what we were expecting. The “Red Wave” never came to fruition. Although it is easy to focus on the negative and reflect on what went wrong, there were many victories at the local level which the mainstream media has largely ignored – do we really think this wasn’t on purpose?
School board elections across the country revealed that the American people favor anti-woke, pro-parental rights candidates who are committed to eliminating the left’s indoctrinating curriculum from schools. Many of these candidates received the resources and support they needed to take-on the left by way of groups like Building Education for Students Together (BEST).
Led by parents themselves, BEST hosted trainings as part of its education freedom initiative. Candidates who took part found tremendous success, with over 86 BEST-trained candidates winning seats this election cycle. Compared to years past, this past cycle was truly a watershed cycle for parental rights in education.
These are impressive outcomes, and this cycle should be a bright spot for us all in an otherwise tough election, nationally. While these wins will positively impact the next generation, these efforts did not come to fruition overnight. These school board wins were a culmination of sustained grassroots efforts over time. From the hard work in the early days of BEST’s founding in late 2020, to the victories of Election Night 2022, substantive change takes time, and grassroots parent-activists made key investments with the long term, big picture in mind.
Engagement is the key to successful grassroots activity. A candidate must engage with their constituencies before they can begin to educate, empower, or mobilize them. Outside of a viral moment, it is impossible to mobilize grassroots activists at a moment’s notice.
BEST focuses on engagements with parents of school children, school board candidates, and school board members. This three-pronged approach helps activists flip school board seats and elect like-minded candidates who stand for parental choice in education and curriculum transparency.
We saw this earlier in the year with Arizona’s transformative state-based legislation, AZ H.B. 2853, which ensured taxpayer dollars would follow individual students, rather than systems. A few highlights of H.B. 2853, among other things, include every Arizona family’s eligibility for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program, families will receive more than $6,500 per year, per child for private school, homeschooling, ‘learning pods,’ tutoring, or any other kinds of educational service that would best fit their students’ needs, and any child who wishes to opt out of their local public school (or who already has) will be allowed to join the ESA program under the bill. This was truly a win for students and parents over left-wing educators and teachers’ unions.
Since its founding in 2020, BEST has trained over 10,000 activists in key states: AZ, CO, WI, OH, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, and TX. In 2023, BEST plans to accelerate its efforts and train another 10,000 activists.
In 2023, BEST will continue to lead the education freedom movement by training more parent-activists on parental engagement and school board activism, adding more men to the school choice movement, and training more school board members on their rights, responsibilities, and roles. We will continue to lay the groundwork necessary in 2023 to achieve bigger legislative wins in the future. However, the work has to be put in now in order to reap what we sow.
Next year, dozens of BEST-trained school board candidates across the country will begin the process of correcting many wrongs within our nation’s education system. Dramatic changes will not occur overnight, but we now have a strong foothold to build upon in the coming years, which will improve the educational wellbeing for the next generation. We are taking back our schools, and BEST will continue to advocate for parental rights with their children’s education and remove the woke garbage that is harming our children, prioritizing the basic educational needs for our children.
Laura Zorc is the Director of Education Reform at FreedomWorks.