Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.
In today’s edition, you’ll find:
- On the issues: the debate over transgender athletes in school sports
- School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
- How conflicts over race, the pandemic, and sex and gender played out in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin school board elections
- Extracurricular: links from around the web
- Candidate Connection survey
On the Issues: The debate over transgender athletes in school sports
According to the New York Times, since 2019, 18 states have passed bills regulating the participation of transgender students in school sports.
South Carolina is the latest state to pass legislation requiring transgender students to compete in sports consistent with the sex specified on their birth certificates.
Below, Win Hammond writes South Carolina’s transgender sports law is discriminatory and unfair to transgender athletes. Hammond says there is no evidence that transgender students who identify as female have an unfair advantage over females who meet the birth certificate requirement under South Carolina law.
McGee Moody writes that male puberty hormones like testosterone create lasting physiological differences that give transgender athletes who identify as female an athletic advantage in women’s sports. Moody says allowing students who identify as female to compete in women’s sports undermines equal opportunity in female competitions.
SC’s anti-trans athletes bill is bad for students, based in bigotry | Win Hammond, The Daily Gamecock
“Trans athletes have the potential to beat cisgender kids, just like any other child does. However, their success is sometimes unfairly seen as invalid due to the trans athlete’s identity. Trans women are not endangering women’s sports — after all, they are women. Women, no matter their identity, can compete fairly against one another; it is more of an issue of athleticism than hormones. … The bill aims to segregate competitions based on sex, but there is no conclusive evidence suggesting this segregation’s necessity. In fact, the more these arguments are investigated, the more they seem like simple attacks on transgender people’s identity. The entire debate surrounding the presence of trans athletes ignores data and operates purely off of lies and bigotry, with the smallest concern for the future of S.C. students.”
South Carolina must protect our female athletes | McGee Moody, The Post and Courier
“In swimming, the concept of time is represented by speed, power and force applied upon the water, all of which are affected by physiological traits such as height, weight, muscle growth, hand size and foot size. In all of these areas, males have an athletic advantage as a result of testosterone production during puberty. … As a coach, I worked very hard to be a voice for my female athletes and to protect their right to fair competition. As a father, I will never tell my daughters they are unable to be successful on any level. However, I will not stand idly by and let the deck be stacked against these women and girls. We cannot let the hard-fought work of so many to ensure equal opportunities for female athletes be reversed by allowing men to compete in women’s sports. When we ignore biological reality, female athletes lose medals, public recognition and opportunities to compete.”
School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.
Upcoming school board elections
Districts in California are holding primary elections on June 7. Districts in Nevada are holding primary elections on June 14.
We’re covering the following school board elections on June 7.
- Long Beach Unified School District (primary)
- Los Angeles Unified School District (primary)
- San Diego Unified School District (primary)
- Compton Unified School District (general)
- Twin Rivers Unified School District (general)
We’re covering the following school board elections on June 14.
School board candidates per seat up for election
Since 2018, we’ve tracked the ratio of school board candidates to seats up for election within our coverage scope. Greater awareness of issues or conflicts around school board governance can cause the number of candidates per seat to increase. Click here to see historical data on this subject.
This year, 2.2 candidates are running for each seat in the 887 school board races we are covering in districts where the filing deadline has passed. The 2.2 candidates per seat is 12.6% more than in 2020.
How conflicts over race, the pandemic, and sex and gender played out in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin school board elections
School board incumbents lost at nearly twice the historical average rate in a sample of April 2022 school board contests where candidates offered views on three conflict issues—race in education, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and sex and gender in schools.
Recently, we identified 141 school districts in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin that held elections on April 5 where candidates took a stance on race in education, COVID responses, or sex and gender in schools. The 141 districts represent 9.7% of the 1,453 districts in those states (although not all of which held elections on April 5).
There were 334 seats up for election in these 141 districts. Incumbents running for re-election in these districts lost to challengers at a rate nearly twice recent averages.
Following the elections, we used media reporting, op-eds, candidate websites, campaign ads, and more, to categorize each candidate as either supporting or opposing an issue. In cases where candidate stances were not readily apparent, we labeled them as unclear.
- Race in education: candidates supporting this issue tend to support expanding the use of curricula related to race as well as district-specific equity or diversity plans. Candidates opposing this issue tend to oppose these efforts.
- Responses to the coronavirus pandemic: candidates supporting this issue tend to support or previously supported, mask or vaccine requirements, and social distancing or distance learning relating to the pandemic. Candidates opposing this issue tend to oppose these measures their districts took or considered in response to the pandemic.
- Sex and gender in schools: candidates supporting this issue tend to support expanding sexual education curricula or the use of gender-neutral facilities and learning materials. Candidates opposing this issue tend to oppose these efforts.
Over the past four election cycles, from 2018 to 2021, incumbents lost 18% of races where they filed for re-election among those districts within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope. But in the April 5 conflict races, 33% of incumbents lost re-election.
The most common conflict was responses to the coronavirus pandemic, which appeared in 135 districts accounting for 320 seats. Race in education followed, appearing in 108 districts with 258 seats. Sex and gender appeared in 69 districts accounting for 159 seats.
Here’s a breakdown of the positions candidates took on coronavirus responses:
Here’s a breakdown of the positions candidates took on race in education:
Here’s a breakdown of the positions candidates took on sex and gender:
In total, 233 incumbents filed for re-election, leaving 101 seats open, guaranteed to be won by newcomers. That represents 30% of the seats up for election, which is similar to what we see among school board districts within our coverage scope, especially in even-numbered years.
Click here to read more of this analysis.
Extracurricular: education news from around the web
This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us!
- Texas School Board Association Leaves National Group Over Letter Accusing Parents of ‘Domestic Terrorism’ | The Texan
- Survey: Third of students reluctant to seek help for mental health issues | K-12 Dive
- Texas shooting: The teachers who sacrificed their lives to protect children | BBC
- Governor’s education savings account plan still faces hurdles | The Tennessee Lookout
- Invisible Students: The Information Crisis in Early Education | FutureED
- What Lia Thomas Could Mean for Women’s Elite Sports | New York Times
Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district
Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more.
In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey.
If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey.
The survey contains more than 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also appear in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.
And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!