search
Sections List
American Journal News

Michigan governor nominee Tudor Dixon pushes GOP 'culture war' rhetoric about education

Michigan gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon focuses on favorite Republican themes such as ‘critical race theory,’ ‘school choice,’ and ‘parents’ rights’ in campaign appeals to the GOP base.

By Adrian Cole - August 17, 2022
Share
Tudor Dixon

Several of the Republicans who ran in their party’s primary for governor of Michigan this summer cited their opposition to the COVID-19 safety policies of incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, such as mask mandates and the closures of schools and businesses, as their motivation to run for office. They blasted Whitmer for policies put into place on the recommendation of public health experts that were intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.

Now that Tudor Dixon has clinched the GOP nomination for governor, she is repeating the criticisms on which she based her primary campaign, tweeting on Aug. 11, “Parents will be the decision makers in the 2022 elections and liberal lockdown governors face particular peril due to their policies’ harsh impact on children. @GretchenWhitmer was the cruelest of them all.”

Dixon, the only woman on the statewide GOP ticket, promotes herself as a champion of families and children, focusing much of her campaign on talking point issues Republicans have used in previous cycles to engage their base voters, including “parents’ rights,” “school choice,” and “critical race theory.”

Josh Cowen, a professor of education policy at Michigan State University, told the American Independent Foundation that Dixon has “picked up on the fact that there are parents out there that are angry. Pandemic closures, transgender issues, CRT: Moms don’t like what schools are doing, but she hasn’t fully fleshed that out yet into a coherent policy.”

Centering Whitmer as the enemy of education and families in Michigan, Dixon attacked the governor over gender issues, saying during her primary election night speech on Aug. 2, “This is going to be an epic battle between a conservative businesswoman and mother and a far-left birthing parent and career politician”; tweeting the next day, “Thank you President Trump! It’s time to elect a real woman in Michigan”; and responding to a statement from Whitmer’s campaign on the race between her and Dixon, “What is a woman? @gretchenwhitmer.”

Dixon is also repeating charges that Whitmer’s closures of schools in response to pandemic threats has caused damage to Michigan children, telling Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” on Aug. 11 that she shared on Twitter:

We really believe that parents are going to get involved in this election in a way they never have before, because not only do we have this attack on women, an attack on our young girls, but we’ve also had an attack on education from this governor. She shut our schools down longer than almost any other state. In fact, we even had schools shut down at the beginning of this year, and she said nothing. And then when our students were desperately in need of a chance to catch up, she was given an opportunity to have reading scholarships and she vetoed that. So parents are going to look at this and say, Now our schools are failing, we had a 50% failure rate on our literacy exams after those reading scholarships were vetoed, and parents are saying, Who is going to do something to get our kids back on track?

The educational issues page on Dixon’s campaign website includes “Preserve Parents’ Rights,” “Protect Girls’ Sports,” and “Create Education Savings Accounts.” The brief descriptions under each heading reveal a focus on cultural issues: The section on “Parents’ Rights” says that Dixon would “Require school districts to put all curriculum and teaching materials online for parents to see and ban school personnel from talking to Kindergarten-3rd grade children about sex and gender theory secretly behind their parents’ backs,” for example, harking back to Florida’s recently enacted “Parental Rights in Education” law, known by opponents as “Don’t say gay.”

The section under the heading on girls sports misgenders and dismisses the rights of transgender girls: “Protect young girls from being forced to compete against biological boys in school sports by banning born boys from playing on girls’ teams in school-sanctioned, gender-specific sports.” It meshes with recent efforts by the Michigan Legislature, which in April of this year passed a bill prohibiting athletes who are “biologically built like a boy” from participating in girls sports.

When it comes to funding education in the state, Dixon’s website says, “Empower parents to decide which education environment is best for their child. Allow families to use the state’s per-pupil funding amount on public, private, charter, virtual, or homeschooling options.”

“Think of it like this,” MSU’s Cowen told TAIF. “If her overall strategy is the gender, dog-whistle, anti-woke agenda, the tactic is school vouchers, which Betsy DeVos has been pushing nationally for decades.”

DeVos, a long-time right-wing Republican activist and donor, is a supporter of unregulated charter schools and school vouchers that would redirect public funding from public schools to private and charter schools. DeVos served as secretary of education under former President Donald Trump and recently said she thinks the Department of Education should be abolished. She and her family endorsed Dixon in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Allowing such funding would require an amendment to the state Constitution, which currently bars it.

In a website post on so-called “school choice,” the ACLU said in 2016 that “voucher and tax credit programs typically funnel taxpayer funds into private and often religious schools that are free to discriminate against students on a variety of grounds and are exempt from meeting the same educational requirements as public schools. … Beyond classroom material, private religious schools can and do discriminate, for example, by excluding students on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or disability.”

Cowen noted that Michigan already has one of the largest “school choice” programs in the country, and that this year 1 in 4 kids will go to school outside their districts. 

In a recent column published by the Detroit News, Cowen pointed out, “The plan that Tudor Dixon and Betsy DeVos are proposing not only complicates the tax code further, it’s also unnecessary if the idea is to simply support kids where their parents choose to send them.”

In July, Whitmer’s office celebrated the state’s school budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which allocates $9,150 per pupil in every school district, the highest amount in the state’s history, and includes $475 million for school infrastructure, funds for mental health resources and special needs children, and an additional 1,300 spots in preschool programs. The budget passed with bipartisan support.  

This month, however, in an effort to have the Republican-led House pass school voucher legislation, a DeVos-backed group called Let MI Kids Learn turned in more than 500,000 signatures on a petition calling for the Legislature to vote on establishing publicly funded student savings accounts that could be used for private schools or tutoring costs. Whitmer vetoed a similar proposal last year,  saying it would reduce state revenue by $500 million annually while effectively making private schools tax shelters for the wealthy. 

The Bureau of Elections is reviewing the petition.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


Read More
Alaska House committee advances, expands proposal to bar trans girls from girls sports

Alaska House committee advances, expands proposal to bar trans girls from girls sports

By Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon - April 16, 2024
Senate clears gallery, passes bill to arm Tennessee teachers

Senate clears gallery, passes bill to arm Tennessee teachers

By Sam Stockard, Tennessee Lookout - April 10, 2024
Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

Not if, but when: Parents of slain Parkland students urge Utah lawmakers to pass school safety bill

By Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch - February 21, 2024
Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

Ohio Democrats introduce education bills for universal school meals, teacher pay raises

By Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal - February 15, 2024
White House calls for focus on tutoring, summer school, absenteeism as pandemic aid winds down

White House calls for focus on tutoring, summer school, absenteeism as pandemic aid winds down

By Kalyn Belsha, Chalkbeat and Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat Colorado - January 22, 2024
As legislative session opens, Alaska House Republicans reject attempt to override school funds veto

As legislative session opens, Alaska House Republicans reject attempt to override school funds veto

By James Brooks, Alaska Beacon and Claire Stremple, Alaska Beacon - January 17, 2024
AJ News
Latest
Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

By Jesse Valentine - May 24, 2024
What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

By Chabeli Carrazana and Shefali Luthra - May 22, 2024
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - May 21, 2024
House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

By Jesse Valentine - May 14, 2024
Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

By Jesse Valentine - May 09, 2024
Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

By Jesse Valentine - May 07, 2024
Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

By Jesse Valentine - April 30, 2024
Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - April 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
Louisiana declares abortion drugs ‘dangerous substances’ to add harsher penalties

Louisiana declares abortion drugs ‘dangerous substances’ to add harsher penalties

By Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator - May 24, 2024
These U.S. Supreme Court cases could affect abortion access nationwide

These U.S. Supreme Court cases could affect abortion access nationwide

By Charlotte Rene Woods, Virginia Mercury - May 24, 2024
Mike Rogers’ ties to Chinese telecom giants fuel hypocrisy scandal

Mike Rogers’ ties to Chinese telecom giants fuel hypocrisy scandal

By Jesse Valentine - May 23, 2024
New rules protect pregnant workers, but red states sue over abortion provisions

New rules protect pregnant workers, but red states sue over abortion provisions

By Anna Claire Vollers - May 22, 2024