Conservative school board candidates handed humiliating loss in St. Louis area

Saint Louis Public School Carnahan High School Of The Future Trunk Or Treat event rightwing radio talk show host Marc Cox
Saint Louis Public School Carnahan High School Of The Future Trunk Or Treat event rightwing radio talk show host Marc Cox

Out of 13 right-wing school board candidates in the St. Louis area, zero won their races on Tuesday.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected their far-right options this week, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The conservative candidates were all endorsed by local right-wing radio talk show host Marc Cox, who advocated against a so-called “woke agenda” in public schools.

The losses of two right-wing candidates in the Francis Howell School District also marked the first defeat for the conservative political action committee Francis Howell Families, which was founded in 2021. For the past three years, the district in St. Charles County has been dominated by a conservative majority backed by the PAC that has acted to eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

Ted House, a former Democratic state senator and cofounder of the oppositional St. Charles County Families for Public Schools PAC, said the outcome made it clear that “the people of St. Charles County support public schools."

“We know we represent the majority who like their teachers and support their schools," he told the Post-Dispatch.

Elsewhere in the area, the conservative St. Louis County Family PAC raised nearly $20,000 just for its two candidates to lose to others endorsed by the local teachers' union. In at least two districts, an incumbent conservative was unseated by a newcomer who ran on a platform of teacher support.

Ultimately, conservative candidates lost in Clayton, Francis Howell, Fort Zumwalt, Lindbergh, Maplewood Richmond Heights, Mehlville, Parkway, Rockwood, St. Charles City, and Wentzville. School district funding initiatives also passed with overwhelming support in Lindbergh, Orchard Farm, Riverview Gardens, University City, and Valley Park.

Conservatives have shifted focus to local school boards in the past several years to enact policies restricting LGBTQ+ and racial subjects without the support of state governments. Right-wing groups have used local school board meetings to organize, in many cases bringing in people from outside the district to speak in support of their cause.

The elections in the St. Louis area reflect a recent effort to push back against conservative takeovers as well as voters' increasing disinterest in manufactured culture war talking points. Just last month, parents in Southern California also voted to remove two conservative school board members after they spearheaded a policy that forcibly outs transgender students to their guardians.