AUSTIN (KXAN) — It may not be the sexiest race on your ballot and you’re not likely to see flashy commercials during Cowboys games for the candidates, but if you live in Central Texas, you’re likely to see a District 5 State Board of Education (SBOE) seat on your ballot this election and you should be paying attention.

“The State Board of Education is hugely important because when we think about education in Texas, K-12, a lot of that is very much top-down, coming from the state, not bottom-up, coming from the school districts,” said Brian Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin.

The SBOE, made up of 15 members elected from different Texas districts, determines critical guidance for schools — curriculum, textbooks, what can be taught and how it’s taught. Smith said if you have kids, this is one of the most impactful roles when it comes to your children’s education.

It’s also a state position where sometimes candidates fall through the cracks because people don’t read up, and it’s something that could truly impact the quality of your child’s education during their 12-13 years in Texas public schools.

“We’ve seen one of the new battlegrounds in the United States is now schools and school districts over Critical Race Theory, mask mandates, books, all sorts of things,” Smith said. “The people that we elect to the state board are the ones that are going to shape the curriculum.”

Who’s running for SBOE District 5?

District 5 covers parts of Travis County and Bexar County, along with Hays, Caldwell, San Saba, Llano, Mason, Gillespie, Blanco, Comal, Kendall, Guadalupe and Kerr counties. Here’s who’s running for the District 5 seat in 2022, in the order they appear on each ballot.

Meet the Democratic candidates

  • Rebecca Bell-Metereau (incumbent): Bell-Metereau is running to keep her SBOE District 5 seat. She is a teacher and professor of English and film at Texas State University.
  • Juan Juárez: Juárez says he would be the first openly gay member of the SBOE. He is the principal at KIPP Austin College Prep, according to its website.
  • Kevin Guico: Guico says he would be the first Asian-American member of the SBOE. He has worked at public schools in Texas and is listed as a manager for Empower Schools, a nonprofit that works with school districts.

Meet the Republican candidates

  • Robert Morrow: A controversial politician and a longtime educator is back again after forcing a runoff in the 2020 election for this seat and losing. The GOP publicly denounced Morrow before that election saying in a press release that Morrow “has a history of misogynist and vulgar language.”
  • Mark Loewe: Loewe, who comes from a STEM background, taught graduate level physics courses at Texas State University, San Marcos, according to his website.