A decade ago, Charlie Kirk founded Turning Point USA, whose stated intent is playing “offense with a sense of urgency to win America’s culture war” on high school and college campuses. Now, the organization has turned its attention to an even younger demographic, announcing the launch of Turning Point Academy, a supposedly anti-“woke” “educational movement” curriculum which aims to bring conservative values and right-wing talking points into elementary and high school classrooms.
Recent TPUSA campaigns, which feature at least one K-12 school and incentives for young people to attend the organization's annual conference, come amid a broader political landscape in which right-wing media and political figures, including Kirk and others associated with TPUSA, have been lobbing false accusations that Democrats are forcing a “woke” agenda on children that amounts to sexual grooming.
On June 7, TPUSA put out a press release announcing that it would be opening its first “brick and mortar” school, Turning Point Academy, in collaboration with Dream City Christian Schools in the Phoenix, Arizona, area. According to the release, “Dream City Christian, a Turning Point Academy,” is the first in a “growing network of schools” that will incorporate the curriculum and structure designed by TPUSA and Kirk.
This curriculum attempts to undermine what right-wing figures have identified as threats to conservative education. Rather than arguing that this educational project is apolitical, as other right-wing figures have, Turning Point Academy is proud to announce that it is “Christian, Classical, conservative, church-based and cost-affordable.” Turning Point Academy assures parents that “CRT, postmodernism, ‘Wokeism,’ deconstructionism, queer theory, radical LGBT agendas, and anti-American ideas such as the 1619 project will have no place at our institution” and promises “to never waver from the truth and to teach self-government and liberty to students.”
Dream City Christian is an existing K-12 private school that claims the “current political and spiritual climate in the country is in turmoil” and that a “well-established biblical worldview is a must for every student.” This combined ethos of Christian education and right-wing politics makes Dream City Christian a clear fit for TPUSA’s particular blend of Christian fundamentalism and Trumpism.
“Having been in the educational world for 10 years, we have access to some of the best educational resources, teachers, academics and curriculums this country has to offer. We can bring those to bear as we relaunch Dream City Christian as the first Turning Point Academy, ensuring it is a model for others to follow as we launch additional Turning Point Academies around the country.”
The “educational resources” TPUSA offers include activism kits, original media, and access to a number of conservative speaking events. Alongside Young America’s Foundation, and its campus organization Young Americans for Freedom, TPUSA is a major conservative influence on campuses around the country.
TPUSA also hosts AmericaFest, a conservative conference that will take place from December 17 to December 20 of this year, featuring speakers including Candace Owens and Matt Walsh. This year’s conference will also include Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who was the subject of a federal probe due to allegations that he violated federal child sex trafficking laws and whose associate, Joel Greenberg, was recently convicted of charges for similar infractions resulting from the investigation.
TPUSA has special provisions in place aimed at attracting conservative minors to the event, including reduced ticket prices, hotel accommodations, and travel stipends. At the same time, the organization will host its Educators’ Summit, an event it has advertised to parents and teachers who may be curious about Turning Point Academy.
TPUSA’s appeal to the next generation comes while right-wing figures continue to accuse the Democratic Party of indoctrinating students with “woke” curricula and falsely conflate LGBTQ representation in schools with the sexual grooming of young people. In addition to rejecting LGBTQ representation and inclusive curriculum in schools, these conservative influences are often explicitly anti-trans, as in the case of conservative children’s books recently published by Matt Walsh and Steven Crowder. TPUSA, which has long been a conservative influence on college campuses and a pipeline to conservative media outlets across the country, is now highlighting the next frontier of the conservative educational ecosystem: children and minors “15 & under.”