HGTV Star's Sister Elected to 'Fix Up' School District Plagued by Critical Race Theory

Shannon Braun, sister of Chip Gaines, campaigned against woke policies

Shannon Braun / Facebook screenshot
June 8, 2021

Shannon Braun, sister of Fixer Upper cohost Chip Gaines, won a seat on a Dallas suburb's school board Saturday after campaigning to fight the district's use of "woke" teacher training.

Braun earned a seat on the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District board of trustees in a June 5 runoff election, winning 52 percent of the vote. Braun campaigned against the school district's embrace of critical race theory, which she called "the single most divisive threat we have in education." She will replace incumbent Mindy McClure, who has sat on the school board for more than five years.

Parents across the country have attempted to thwart radicalism in education as critical race theory-based lessons have become increasingly common. In May, voters in Southlake, Texas, elected a slate of candidates who oppose "antiracism" to city and school board seats. Parents in Hamilton County, Indiana, launched an organization in April to oppose their school district's push for "antiracism" and critical race theory.

Braun did not intend to run as an anti-critical race theory candidate when she launched her campaign in February. Her platform originally consisted of raising teachers' pay, making the district's finances more transparent, and returning students to the classroom for in-person instruction.

Just before the general election, though, a parent sent Braun a document detailing some of the school district's teacher training sessions. One slide show presentation instructed educators on "white" and "Christian" privilege and systemic racism.

The document Braun received was one of many collected by Grapevine parents. Concerned about how the district was training teachers, these parents collected a slew of documents from the district's website and through open records requests.

One slideshow instructed educators to teach literature through "critical race theory" and "Marxist" lenses. Another document recommended that the district implement a racial quota for students in "gifted" courses.

Braun told the Washington Free Beacon that she decided to take a stand after seeing the "jaw-dropping" documents.

"Not in a million years would have thought the district would have what the documents show," Braun said.

In May, Braun pledged to vote against critical race theory "and the curriculum that promotes it."

"The single most divisive threat we have in education, critical race theory, is already in our schools," Braun said in a video. "Our school board has brought it into our district right under our noses because our community has not been paying attention. That stops now."

In an email to parents, district officials denied that students and teachers were learning critical race theory.

"The curriculum used in [Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District] does not include instruction on Critical Race Theory. … As we encourage our students to take ownership of their learning, they often have choice in how they approach an assignment or the topic they research and study, as long as they can demonstrate mastery of the [state standards]. This does not mean, however, that Critical Race Theory is part of GCISD's curriculum."

Braun took issue with the district's claims. She told the Free Beacon that teachers schooled in critical race theory transmitted the radical ideas to students, no matter what the district's curriculum said.

"The district claimed it wasn't there in the curriculum. And, no, there's no critical race theory class or critical race theory book," Braun said. "But it is a thought process. … You learn about what microaggressions are, and what your privileges are. So it's subtle, it's teaching kids to look at life through a lens. You evaluate things through that lens."

District communications director Kristin Snively told the Free Beacon that Grapevine-Colleyville stands by its email denying that it teaches critical race theory.

One Grapevine parent, who asked for anonymity out of fear of retribution, said the district's failure to acknowledge critical race theory-based lessons within teacher training documents disincentivizes parents from speaking out against it.

"Either they're being dishonest, or they don't know what’s going on in the district. They're out of touch, they don't know what's going on on campuses, and they don't have a good handle on things," the parent said. "It instills fear in parents because we do know the repercussions that might happen to students."

Braun said parents must stand up and fight against radicalism in the classroom.

"Parents are who [are] going to fix this stuff. It's not going to be a school board. It’s not going to be an administration. The parents have the power," Braun said. "Parents are not going to continue to do this."

Chip Gaines and his wife Joanna came under fire in May for donating $1,000 to Braun's campaign.

None of the seven sitting school board members responded to the Free Beacon's request for comment in time for publication. Braun will be sworn in later this month.