VIDEO: The ‘great awakening of the conservative Hispanic’
I think we are seeing a great awakening of the conservative Hispanic. We're really challenging the mindset and the model of what a conservative is. I think the values that we vote for are rooted in families and opportunities. We just want to do right by our families.
This week on ALEC TV Livestream, ALEC Public Affairs Director Catherine Mortensen and ALEC Digital Engagment Manager Leo Briceno spoke with a newly-elected school board member from the Spring Branch Independent School District in the Houston, TX suburbs. John Perez is one of three newly-elected board members in that district and is part of the larger national movement toward parental empowerment in public schools.
Catherine Mortensen: I know you have at least one child in the public schools in Spring Branch, Texas. Do you have other children and what has their life been like the past two years of COVID?
John Perez: Actually, I have four kids. Two sets of twins, which include two graduating seniors and two rising sophomores. Their experience has been good. My wife and I are pretty vigilant. We’ve stayed on top of their assignments and their extracurriculars. We’re fans of the nuclear family, we’re devout Catholics and strong conservatives. But, at the same time, I know that not every child has that support in our district. We have to serve every child no matter their origin story and at the end of the day, what I worry about and what was one of the reasons I jumped into the race races, I saw some things happening that didn’t sit right with me. Some school assignments come back to our house where Critical Race Theories were creeping in.
While there was a lot of bad with COVID, it also allowed a lens into our classrooms, and I think parents woke up and realized we had been pretty trusting. In some cases that was warranted, but we have some faith that our schools are serving our kids with everyone’s best interests in mind.
Leo Briceno: At what point did you recognize that this was an issue that you had to get involved in personally?
John Perez: It was about a year ago. The school board election prior to ours was contentious. For a little bit of background, there was a candidate who had run twice, and she lost for her second time in May of 2021. And as a failed candidate twice, she filed a lawsuit as a disenfranchised Hispanic. We are still fighting that lawsuit. One of the one of the reasons I was compelled to run is, as a Hispanic, I was not raised to live in America with the mindset of, “If at first you don’t succeed, lawyer up and get handed a seat on the board.”
Catherine Mortensen: It doesn’t sound like you ran with any real political agenda in mind but focused on student education. Your county voted heavily in favor of President Biden in the last election, so, clearly, you got a lot of votes from people who typically vote for liberal and progressive policies. We’re seeing a lot of that shift in school board elections across the country.
John Perez: We tried hard to keep it nonpartisan, though I think some of the issues did bring out the conservative in me. When you’re talking about keeping politically fueled agendas out of the classroom, you’re going to be attacked as the conservative in the room. While I am not ashamed to step up and say I am a conservative, but I also know this is a non-partisan role and I will serve all my constituents.
But I do think we are seeing a great awakening of the conservative Hispanic. We’re really challenging the mindset and the model of what a conservative is. I think the values that we vote for are rooted in families and opportunities. We just want to do right by our families.