Arts & Culture News

Chip and Joanna Gaines Donated to a Campaign Aiming to Stop Critical Race Theory

Joanna and Chip Gaines at an event in 2019, two years before making a donation to a school board member advocating to stop the teaching of critical race theory.
Joanna and Chip Gaines at an event in 2019, two years before making a donation to a school board member advocating to stop the teaching of critical race theory. Larry Busacca/Getty
On Wednesday, The Dallas Morning News reported that Waco's Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV fame donated $1,000 to Shannon Braun's campaign for the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD school board. The article reported the couple was listed under Braun's endorsements tab on her website, but that tab is no longer there.

Braun, Chip Gaines' sister, is running against incumbent trustee Mindy McClure in a June 5 runoff. Braun is running on the platform to "give our kids the education they deserve," and she is also fighting against the school district's teaching of critical race theory, which is an academic movement that teaches "that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies," according to Education Week.

Her fight against critical race theory should be an easy win, since the district does not include the theory in its curriculum and has no intention to do so. Still, Braun calls critical race theory "the single most divisive threat" in education. Her strategy to avoid division, other than to see critical race theory where it isn't, apparently is to reflexively reject anything anyone else dares propose that has any whiff of the theory, which she's selling as an imminent threat.

"I will vote down anything and everything that further promotes critical race theory in our school district and actively work to remove all critical race theory," Braun says in a video posted on her campaign Facebook page.

In a statement, GCISD says — again — that the district does not teach critical race theory.

"The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, are state standards for what students should know and be able to do in each grade level," the statement reads. "These are adopted by the State Board of Education and are then shared with school districts across the state to determine curriculum to best meet these standards. 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 TEKS. This does not mean, however, that Critical Race Theory is part of GCISD’s curriculum."

Braun did not respond to our multiple requests for comment.

The Gaines, who are credited with transforming Waco and increasing its tourism through their Magnolia brand, have been quiet about their political beliefs. In 2017, BuzzFeed reported that the couple attended an anti-LGBTQ church, to which the pair responded that they urge everyone to treat people "with dignity and with love."

An email to Magnolia's PR team went unanswered. 
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Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner