News Briefs

Seven of 10 Kansas school board candidates backed by 1776 PAC win

By: - November 3, 2021 5:09 pm
The three Olathe school board candidates endorsed by 1776 Project PAC prevailed Tuesday, based on preliminary vote totals, and overall eight of 10 school board candidates in Kansas backed by the PAC won seats. The PAC sponsored this mailer to influence voters in Olathe. (Kansas Reflector)

The three Olathe school board candidates endorsed by 1776 Project PAC prevailed Tuesday, based on preliminary vote totals, and overall eight of 10 school board candidates in Kansas backed by the PAC won seats. The PAC sponsored this mailer to influence voters in Olathe. (Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Seven of 10 local school board candidates in eastern Kansas won election Tuesday after endorsed by a political action committee fearful an academic curriculum referred to as critical race theory could be introduced in the state’s classrooms.

Preliminary counts showed candidates backed by the 1776 Project PAC performed well in the Olathe, Lansing and Blue Valley school districts.

Among the 10 PAC-endorsed candidates for school board in Kansas, two won in Olathe, three prevailed in Lansing and two were victorious in Blue Valley. One of the Olathe races was too close to call, with the PAC candidate and a rival both at 49%. A PAC-sponsored candidate lost in Blue Valley as did another in the Shawnee Mission district.

Olathe school board member Kristin Schultz lost to challenger Robert Kuhn by about 2,400 votes of more than 23,000 cast. Kuhn was among the candidates supported by the 1776 Project PAC.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to step into my board responsibilities,” Schultz said, “and I wish my successor clarity on public education issues and dedication to the same.”

In this election cycle, the 1776 Project PAC and candidates beholden to the organization’s agenda flooded homes in Johnson County with campaign mailers.

The 1776 Project PAC said on social media “our candidates” were leading 44 of 58 campaigns associated with the political action committee. The PAC endorsed school board candidates in Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Critical race theory and COVID-19 were topics of conversation in Kansas elections as candidates sought wedge issues to influence voters.

The Kansas State Department of Education says critical race theory wasn’t part of the curriculum in the state’s public schools. The 1776 Project PAC claims Kansas schools do incorporate critical race theory.

In legal scholarship and university academic circles, critical race theory takes the view racial division was constructed to advance interests of white people at the expense of others.

The Kansas school board candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project PAC sought support among voters by tapping into criticism of race theory and claiming it was inspired by Marxist thought and designed to undermine capitalism.

The PAC’s candidates had to agree to restore “honest, patriotic education that cultivates in our children a profound love for our country” and involved curriculum that “teaches that all children are created equal, have equal moral value under God, the Constitution and the law.”

Some candidates in these Kansas school board races also campaigned in support of unilaterally allowing parents of public school children to make decisions on masking and testing implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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