The latest with school board elections this cycle

Welcome to the Friday, March 25, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Five states holding general school board elections on April 5
  2. Election spotlight—Oregon’s 5th Congressional District Democratic primary
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many cases is the U.S. Supreme Court hearing during its current argument session?

Five states holding general school board elections on April 5

School districts in five states—Alaska, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsinwill be holding general school board elections on April 5. Two of these states—Oklahoma and Wisconsin—held primary elections in February.

Ballotpedia covers elections in the largest 200 school districts by student enrollment and any districts in the 100 largest cities by population. Beyond that, we also cover every school board recall election, no matter the district’s size.

While many filing deadlines won’t come until later in the year, we are already seeing an increase in activity in the races within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope. For the 204 school board races we are covering in 2022 whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.19 candidates are running per seat up for election. 

The next upcoming school board recall election on our radar is against Tim Stentiford, one of 12 members of the Regional School Unit 21 school board in Maine. That recall election is scheduled for March 29.

Recall supporters listed a loss of teachers in the district, spending on human resources, and the lack of a school board curriculum committee as reasons for the recall. Stentiford has not responded to the recall effort, though board chair Art LeBlanc said recall supporters were “focused on discrediting the work of the Board and administration for political gain.” Read more here.

The recall against Stentiford is one of the 28 recall efforts we have tracked this year. Our year-end recall analysis showed we followed more recall efforts in 2021 than any other year since we began compiling data. Already, the number of recall efforts in 2022 is greater than the total number of recall efforts in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017, and 2019.

So far this year, six school board recall efforts have gone to a vote against 11 officials. Of those 11, four were successfully recalled from office: one in Giltner, Neb., and three in San Francisco.

If you want to stay in-the-know with the issues at play and the conversations driving board policy and governance, subscribe to Ballotpedia’s Hall Pass. Each week, we use this newsletter to bring you a roundup of the sharpest commentary and research from across the political spectrum on education as well as election analysis and information.

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Election spotlight—Oregon’s 5th Congressional District Democratic primary

Twelve states are holding statewide primaries in May and, today, we’re taking a look at another one of those battleground primaries, this time in Oregon on May 17.

Incumbent Kurt Schrader and Jamie McLeod-Skinner are running in the Democratic primary election for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District.

Schrader has represented the 5th District since 2009, but the district’s boundaries recently changed due to the redistricting process. According to data from Daily Kos, less than half of the population in the new 5th District—47%—comes from the old 5th District. “This will probably be the most difficult environment that [Schrader] has run in,” according to John Horvick, a senior vice president at DHM Research, an opinion research firm.

Schrader, a farmer and veterinarian who served in the state legislature before being elected to Congress, is a Blue Dog Coalition and the Problem Solvers Caucus member. Schrader said, “[I’ve been] working with Congress to rebuild the safety net for all Oregonians, lower prescription drug costs, make healthcare more affordable, and expand special education funding.”

McLeod-Skinner is an attorney and former Santa Clara, Calif., City Council member. She was a candidate for Congress in 2018 and placed third in the Democratic primary for secretary of state in 2020. McLeod-Skinner said, “[D.C. is not] addressing the crises we’re seeing around affordable housing, around healthcare, around childcare, around environmental issues. And that’s the work I want to do in Congress.”

The two candidates have clashed over legislative records and priorities. 

McLeod-Skinner said Schrader had “fought negotiating lower drug prices, raising the federal minimum wage, and forgiving debt for college loans,” and that “[w]hen he does vote with Democrats, it is often after working to water-down the original ideas.”

Schrader defended his voting record by citing the partisan compositions of the district and state. “I represent the people in my district and the state of Oregon, which frankly is not a blue state,” Schrade said, adding, “There are a lot of folks that are Republicans or Independents, and I’d like to think I represent the state very well this way.”

Schrader received endorsements from Planned Parenthood and the American Federation of Government Employees. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the Working Families Party of Oregon endorsed McLeod-Skinner.

At the time of the primary, three race forecasters rated the general election in the 5th District as Lean or Likely Democratic.

For more in-depth coverage of the intraparty conflicts in the 5th District and throughout this year’s primary election cycle, subscribe to our newsletter, The Heart of the Primaries.

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#FridayTrivia: How many cases is the U.S. Supreme Court hearing during its current argument session?

Earlier this week, we mentioned that the U.S. Supreme Court began its March sitting last Monday, the latest argument session of its current 2021-2022 term. Argument sessions are when justices can directly question attorneys for both sides of a case in an open court.

How many cases is the U.S. Supreme Court hearing during its current argument session?

  1. 2
  2. 17
  3. 8
  4. 22