Two oil tycoons are spending millions to gut TX public education


For decades, two oil and fracking tycoons from West Texas have been funding some of the most radical conservative political candidates in Texas, in a force that previous associates say is aimed at completely changing general public education and learning with Christian-based mostly private schooling, in accordance to a new CNN report

Above the past decade, Tim Dunn and his wife, Terri, have poured more than $18 million into far-correct political motion committees and political candidates for point out and area positions across Texas, whilst Farris Wilks and his wife, Jo Ann, have presented extra than $11 million, in accordance to CNN’s evaluation of Texas Ethics Commission knowledge.  

The pair’s paying areas them between the largest political donors in the condition, and has been concentrated on molding point out and nearby coverage to align with their significantly-ideal political targets. Reshaping education in Texas, previous associates told CNN, has lengthy been their leading precedence.  

“The goal is to tear up, tear down general public training to nothing at all and rebuild it,” Dororthy Burton, a former GOP activist who joined Wilks on a 2015 speaking tour, instructed CNN. “And rebuild it the way God intended training to be.”  

Both Dunn and Wilks have been the driving monetary drive powering substantially of the state Republican party’s concentrating on of “crucial race idea” becoming taught in Texas schools, funding political candidates and community university board candidates eager to consider aim at university administrators and academics whose curriculum includes the history of racism in the U.S. 

On the state degree, Dunn and Wilks-backed lawmakers passed a monthly bill last yr that prevented faculties from mandating discussion of any “widely debated and currently controversial challenge of community plan or social affairs.” Gov. Greg Abbott reported the invoice was created to do away with so-termed essential race theory from Texas school rooms, according to CNN.   

The two adult men have also poured tens of millions into the marketing campaign coffers of the state’s most vocal CRT opponents: Sen. Ted Cruz condemned CRT as “a lie” and “every little bit as racist as Klansmen in white sheets” in a speech delivered to attendees of  the 2021 Religion and Flexibility Coalition Road to The greater part Convention. The junior senator also authored a cost-free e-e book teaching conservatives how to “fight’” essential race idea previous 12 months. Four several years previously, Wilks, his brother and their wives gave $15 million in donations to tremendous PACs supporting Ted Cruz’s presidential marketing campaign.  

Other beneficiaries of Wilks’ largesse consist of Texas condition Rep. Matt Krause, who built national headlines in 2021 following publishing a self-compiled list of 850 books—many dealing with race—to be reviewed for prospective banning from Texas universities. 

Dunn and Wilks have also directed considerable funding towards the rolling back of protections for LGBTQ youth in Texas universities, CNN’s assessment showed. In Houston’s northern suburbs, for illustration, state Rep. Valoree Swanson unseated a 14-12 months average incumbent in 2016 with a campaign financed in big element by a Dunn and Wilks-funded PAC.  Swanson has due to the fact authored a bill banning trans pupils from enjoying on K-12 athletics groups not aligned with their gender assigned at delivery. Although similar expenses have failed to pass the Texas legislature in the past, Swanson’s was signed into law past year—a victory some level to as an instance of Dunn and Wilks shifting Texas Republicans even even further to the proper.   

“They’re efficiently investing their revenue and they are transferring the needle on policy in Austin,” Scott Braddock, the editor of Texas political news group Quorum Report, explained to CNN. “These are intense people investing a great deal of funds in our politics to reshape Texas, this kind of that it matches up with their eyesight.”   

Wilks’ and Dunn’s assaults on general public educational facilities are element of the right’s greater energy to undermine have faith in in public education and learning, experts and advocates told the Texas Observer

“For people to be receptive to spectacular adjust in general public schooling, there have to be clear challenges with public instruction that damage the college students and the mothers and fathers,” stated Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston. Immediately after pushing these narratives, Rottinghaus explained, a generation of Wilks and Dunn-funded mouthpieces in state and regional positions can present non-public religious educational facilities as “a far better way.”


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