News Release

Half the candidates for governor in South favor restrictions on teaching about race, SEF profiles show 

NEWS RELEASE – October 31, 2022

Contact: Alan Richard,, (202) 641-1300

ATLANTA — Nine of the 18 major candidates for governor in the South this November back restrictions on classroom lessons about race and other topics in K-12 public schools, the Southern Education Foundation’s (SEF) new summary of candidates’ positions on education issues shows.

Voting for Justice in Education: 2022 Candidate Profiles for Governor and State Superintendent, officially released today by SEF, summarizes the education positions of 18 Democratic and Republican nominees for governor in the nine southern states holding gubernatorial elections this year. 

In those nine southern states electing governors next month, SEF’s candidate profiles show that:

  • At least nine of the 18 major-party candidates for governor have signed restrictions on classroom teaching about race into law or otherwise support such restrictions.
  • Only one of the region’s 18 major-party candidates has pledged to repeal a law that restricts teaching about race-related topics.
  • At the time of SEF’s analysis, little or no details could be found on the positions of the remaining eight candidates for governor on the issue. 

SEF is a 155-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working for justice and opportunity in education, especially for students of color and students living in low-income families, primarily in the 17 states served by the organization.

SEF opposes measures that discourage–or prohibit–many teachers from exploring topics about race and inequality in a professional manner.

“If we ban classroom lessons on these topics, especially with little or no evidence for doing so, we keep students from learning the nation’s full history and developing the critical thinking skills that come from a more accurate and complete presentation of the American story,” SEF President and CEO Raymond Pierce said.

“These types of debates also distract us from deeply important education issues that impact every student and family in the South,” said Fred Jones, SEF’s director of public policy and advocacy, whose team at SEF monitors state education policy efforts throughout the region. 

“Many students in the South still need high-quality early childhood programs, better-prepared and -supported teachers, well-resourced schools that meet their needs, and support services in schools to nurture the whole child,” Jones said. 

Earlier this fall, SEF sent questionnaires to the major-party candidates for governor in nine states. SEF also surveyed state education superintendent candidates in the three southern states electing those leaders in November: Georgia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. The profiles are based on candidates’ responses to the SEF survey or SEF’s review of their campaign websites and news reports on these issues.

SEF’s profiles review candidates’ positions on many key issues in education, including:

  • Increasing access and quality of early-childhood programs for birth to 5
  • Equitable school funding
  • Competitive pay and support for educators
  • Improving diversity among educators 
  • School privatization measures that send taxpayer money to private schools
  • Support for HBCUs in the state

Some Democrats and Republicans support additional K-12 school funding, more equitable distribution of school funding, expansions or improvements to early childhood programs, and higher teacher pay to help address teacher shortages, while other candidates are mostly silent on these issues.

Views on the subject of classroom instruction were more tempered among the six major-party nominees for state superintendent of education. Three of the candidates in state superintendent races generally support restrictions on classroom lessons about race and sexuality, but to varying degrees. At least two of the state superintendent candidates oppose such restrictions.

Contact SEF Communications for more information and interviews.


The nine states in this year’s profiles, where voters will elect governors and/or state education superintendents:

Alabama (governor)

Arkansas (governor)

Georgia (governor and state superintendent)

Florida (governor)

Maryland (governor)

Oklahoma (governor and state superintendent)

South Carolina (governor and state superintendent)

Tennessee (governor)

Texas (governor)

Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation continues to advance educational opportunity and equity. SEF is based in Atlanta, Georgia.