Center for Political Awareness

Former Far-Right Hard-Liner Says Billionaires are Using School Board Races to Sow Distrust in Public Education

The largesse from billionaires Tim Dunn and brothers Farris and Dan Wilks has made its way into local politics across Texas. Courtney Gore, a Republican school board member in Granbury, says it’s part of their strategy to build support for vouchers.

Photo: Courtney Gore, vice president of the Granbury Independent School District Board of Trustees, listens to public comments during a February meeting. Credit:Shelby Tauber for ProPublica and Texas Tribune

 

When Courtney Gore ran for a seat on her local school board in 2021, she warned about a movement to indoctrinate children with “leftist” ideology. After 2 1/2 years on the board, Gore said she believes a much different scheme is unfolding: an effort by wealthy conservative donors to undermine public education in Texas and install a voucher system in which public money flows to private and religious schools.

Gore points to West Texas billionaires Tim Dunn and brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, who have contributed to various political action committees that have poured millions into legislative candidates who have promoted vouchers. The men also fund or serve on the boards of a host of public policy and advocacy organizations that have led the fight for vouchers in Texas.

In recent years, the largesse from Dunn and the Wilks brothers has reached local communities across Texas, including Granbury, near Fort Worth, where fights over library books, curriculum and vouchers have dominated the community conversation.

Gore said that she believes school board candidates are being recruited, at times without their full knowledge, in an effort “to cause as much disruption and chaos as possible” and weaken community faith in local school districts.

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