Pilot program for New York City’s Asian American and Pacific Islander history curriculum launches for the 2022-2023 school year

A pilot program of New York City’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history curriculum was launched in select schools in September 2022. The New York City Department of Education announced in May 2022 that it had developed the curriculum, titled the Hidden Voices Project, in partnership with the Museum of the City of New York. The new curriculum will be widely implemented throughout the city in 2024 for all grades. 

The curriculum aims to teach students to “learn about and honor the innumerable people, often ‘hidden’ from the traditional historical record, who have shaped and continue to shape our history and identity.” K-12 curriculum guides for the Hidden Voices Project are available on the NYC Department of Education website to assist teachers with implementing the new area of instruction. 

David Banks, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, said, “We want each child to be heard and seen for who they are, to feel deep in their bones that they are respected and important,” according to Chalkbeat New York.  

State Sen. John Liu (D) has introduced legislation that, if passed, would require all New York public schools to include Asian American history in K-12 curriculum.  

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U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D), Mark Robertson (R) running in a district that became less Democratic due to redistricting

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D), Mark Robertson (R), and Ken Cavanaugh (L) are running in the general election for Nevada’s 1st Congressional District on November 8, 2022.

The partisan balance of Nevada’s 1st Congressional District changed as a result of redistricting following the 2020 census. According to data compiled by Daily Kos, Joe Biden (D) would have won this district in the 2020 presidential election with 53% of the vote. Under the old district lines, Biden won the 1st District with 62% of the vote. The district’s Partisan Voter Index, a measurement tool that scores each congressional district based on how strongly it leans toward one political party, changed from D+15 in 2018 to D+3 in 2022.

Titus was elected to the U.S. House in 2013 and also served a term from 2009 to 2011. Titus served in the Nevada State Senate from 1998-2008 and worked as a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Titus outlined her policy stances to Nevada Newsmakers. She said: “I am a progressive, but I don’t believe in defunding the police. I’m for Medicare for all, but you’ve got to do it in a step-by-step process. I am for every environmental issue out there … But I can’t just say overall the ‘Green New Deal’ because that is a push toward nuclear power.”

Robertson served in the U.S. Army and retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. He also taught as an assistant professor and adjunct faculty at UNLV, the National Defense University, and the American College. In his response to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, Robertson said, “He can use his national and international experience to develop solutions to the complex problems we face as a Nation.” He highlighted school choice, 1st Amendment issues, border control, police funding, and balancing the federal budget as top issues.

The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 118th Congress. All 435 districts in the House are up for election. As of September 13, 2022, Democrats hold a 221-212 advantage in the U.S. House with two vacancies. Republicans need to gain a net of six districts to win a majority in the chamber.

Seattle voters to decide on whether to adopt approval voting or ranked-choice voting for city primary elections

In November, Seattle voters will vote on Proposition 1A and 1B to decide whether to adopt an approval voting system or a ranked-choice voting system for municipal primary elections. Currently, Seattle uses a plurality voting system for primary elections for the mayor, city attorney, and city council, in which the candidate receiving the most votes advances to the general election. This system is sometimes referred to as first-past-the-post or winner-take-all and is the most common voting system used in the United States.

The group Seattle Approves collected enough valid signatures for Initiative 134, which would establish an approval voting system for Seattle primary elections. The Seattle City Council could pass the initiative as an ordinance, reject it, send it to voters, or send it to voters along with an alternative proposal.

On July 14, the Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to reject Initiative 134 and adopt a ranked-choice voting system instead. Councilmember Andrew Lewis sponsored a resolution to place the ranked-choice voting alternative proposal on the ballot along with Initiative 134’s approval voting proposal. Lewis said, “This discussion has gotten to a point where we run a risk of making a more undemocratic decision by depriving the voters of making that choice [between approval voting and ranked-choice voting]. In essence, there would be a proxy vote where voting ‘No’ on approval voting would be reflecting a ‘Yes’ vote for [ranked-choice voting] anyway.”

Voters will first decide on Question 1, asking whether either of the two proposed voting systems should be adopted. Voters would then decide on Question 2 to choose between Proposition 1A (Initiative 134) for approval voting or Proposition 1B (City Ordinance 126625) for ranked-choice voting. Voters opposed to adopting a new voting system who vote ‘no’ on Question 1 can still vote for their preferred option in Question 2. If the first question is approved by a majority of voters, the option receiving the highest number of votes would be adopted.

Voting for Proposition 1A would implement Initiative 134, which would establish approval voting for Seattle primary elections for mayor, city attorney, and city council. Under the approval voting system, voters would vote for however many candidates they choose. The primary ballot would include instructions stating, “vote for AS MANY as you approve of” for each office. The top two candidates receiving the most votes would advance to the general election.

Logan Bowers, volunteer co-chair of Seattle Approves, said, “If you’ve ever debated between voting for a candidate that you really like and another you like less but has the big money backing to win, you’ve experienced the problem with our existing elections. The money flowing into elections combined with the flaws in our current voting system means our elections aren’t a fair assessment of what voters want. Too often, voters feel compelled to vote strategically based on who they think can win.”

Voting for Proposition 1B would implement the city council’s proposed alternative measure, which would establish ranked-choice voting for Seattle primary elections for mayor, city attorney, and city council. Under the ranked-choice voting system, voters would rank candidates according to their preferences. The candidates with the fewest votes would be eliminated and the voters’ second choice would be counted for the remaining candidates until two candidates remain to advance to the general election. Voters would be able to rank up to five candidates. Ballots would include instructions stating, “Rank candidates in the order of your choice.”

Lisa Ayrault, director of FairVote Washington, said, “We think it would be an unfortunate choice for Seattle to go in that direction (of approval voting), when ranked-choice voting has such a proven track record of success. Where people tend to have strong preferences about their first choices and care a lot about the outcomes … ranked-choice voting is the best.”

New Hampshire sees 19 U.S. House candidates this year, up from 12 in 2020

The filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in New Hampshire this year was June 10, 2022. Nineteen candidates are running for New Hampshire’s two U.S. House districts, including two Democrats and 17 Republicans. That’s 9.5 candidates per district, more than the six candidates per district in 2020 and fewer than the 12.5 in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. New Hampshire was apportioned two districts, the same number it was apportioned after the 2010 census.
  • The 19 candidates running this year are seven more than the 12 who ran in 2020 and six fewer than the 25 who ran in 2018. Fourteen candidates ran in 2016, and 10 ran in 2014 and 2012.
  • Incumbents Chris Pappas (D-1st) and Annie Kuster (D-2nd) are both running for re-election, meaning there are no open seats this year. The last year there was an open U.S. House seat in New Hampshire was 2018. 
  • Neither incumbent is facing a primary challenger.
  • There are two contested primaries this year, both Republican. That’s fewer than the three contested primaries in 2020 and 2018, and the same number as in 2016, 2014, and 2012.
  • Eleven candidates are running in the 1st district, the most candidates running for a seat this year.
  • Republican and Democratic candidates filed to run in both districts, so no seats are guaranteed to either party this year.

New Hampshire and two other states—Delaware and Rhode Island—are holding their congressional primaries on September 13, 2022. In New Hampshire, the winners of primary contests are determined via plurality vote (i.e., the candidate with the highest number of votes is declared the winner of the primary even if he or she did not win more than 50 percent of the vote).

Washington school board passes new curriculum guidelines on U.S. history and race topics

The Kennewick School Board in Washington state unanimously voted to adopt a new set of curriculum guidelines on August 24, 2022, that aim to restrict teachings on U.S. history and race. 

Kennewick School Board passed a new policy, known as Policy 2340, that would prohibit teachings that the U.S. is fundamentally or systemically racist or that a group of people is inherently racist, oppressed, or victims. The policy also seeks to bar politically leaning content from being included in course curricula, including the “1619 Project” and the “Zinn Education Project.” 

In reference to Policy 2340, Kennewick School Board member Gabe Galbraith said during the school board meeting, “Anytime in politics, there’s give and take. Could this have been stronger? I think so. But we had a great discussion in June and everyone was able to voice their concerns and thoughts, and I think we were able to capture that in this policy.”

Rob Woodford, president of the Kennewick Education Association teacher union, argued critical race theory was never a part of the curriculum and that the policy would not change current teaching methods. “Educators in Kennewick have always done a great job presenting factual information to students in a professional manner, and that will continue to be the case regardless of incendiary — but, ultimately, unsubstantiated — issues, which tend to rise up and then fade away,” he said.

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Texas school district limits discussions of race and gender, pronoun use, and certain books

The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in Texas on August 22, 2022, approved a policy by a 4-3 vote that would limit classroom discussions of race and gender, pronoun use, and certain library materials. 

The approved policy:

  • Allows educators to use pronouns that align with a student’s biological sex rather than their gender identity
  • Prohibits transgender students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity
  • Bars teachers from including political advocacy in their curriculum and awarding students academic credit for political activism
  • Forbids K-5 students from engaging in classroom discussions regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and race
  • Permits school board members and parents to oppose library materials 
  • Authorizes the school board to not have to reconsider banned books for at least a decade

In support of the policy, board member Casey Ford said, “These policies are the product of input from several groups — the board’s policy committee, the district’s attorneys, the board’s attorneys, a committee of administrators and principals and, most importantly, community members.”

Mike Sexton, a parent in the school district, disagreed with some of the board members. Sexton said, “You can talk about Santa Claus, but you can’t talk about gay people to fifth graders. This is incredible — you’re acting like people don’t exist. There’s thousands of people in this district that are LGBTQ, that live here, that are taxpayers,” according to the Texas Tribune.

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Texas State Board of Education discusses changes to the state’s social studies curriculum

The Texas State Board of Education began discussing proposed changes to the state’s social studies curriculum in a meeting on August 1, 2022. The board aims to make changes and guide educators on how to teach U.S. history while aligning the curriculum with Senate Bill 3. The law, which went into effect in December 2021, prohibited teaching concepts such as promoting ideas that, according to the bill, “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex” and that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

The state board is responsible for updating the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards every eight years. The board aims to revise the social studies curriculum to ease educators’ concerns about how to teach the subject while adhering to the new law. 

Sen. Bryan Hughes (R), who authored Senate Bill 3, spoke to the board to offer guidance on implementing the law into the curriculum. Hughes told the board that the “bill is not an attempt to sanitize or to teach our history in any other way than the truth – the good, the bad and the ugly – and those difficult things that we’ve been through and those things we’ve overcome.” He added that, “No one is saying that we don’t have systemic racism. But what we’re saying is, we’ve made a lot of progress. We have a long way to go. But the way to get there is to come together as Americans,” according to The Texas Tribune.

State Board of Education member Aicha Davis (D) argued that Senate Bill 3 has been damaging to the public school system and stated, “We always talk about teachers leaving in droves and this was one of the reasons.” She responded to Hughes’ guidance on aligning curriculum with the law by saying, “Teachers were literally scared to teach even the TEKS that existed because of this,” according to The Texas Tribune

The proposed curriculum updates are available for review on the Texas Education Agency’s website and are open for public comment. The Texas State Board of Education will vote on proposed changes to the curriculum in November. 

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Parents sue Tennessee school district over curriculum including race and gender topics

A parent group on July 8, 2022, filed a lawsuit in the Twenty-First Judicial District against Tennessee education officials and the Williamson County school district for allegedly violating state laws restricting teachings on race and gender.

Tennessee House Bill 580 aims to prohibit school districts from incorporating materials into the curriculum that portray the United States as racist or sexist, or that make students feel uncomfortable because of their race or sex. Parents’ Choice Tennessee, the parent group, claims the school district’s English/language arts curriculum contains what the group considers to be age-inappropriate material that discusses topics of race. The group is seeking for the school district to permanently remove the curriculum. 

Trisha Lucente, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and the founder of Parents’ Choice Tennessee, said that she would prefer a “true English Language Arts curriculum that teaches phonics, classical literature, and is free of any politics or political agenda,” according to Education Week.

Jennifer Cortez, co-founder of an organization that advocates for students of color in the school district, disagreed with  Lucente’s claims by sharing, “[m]y daughter went through these Civil Rights modules and didn’t feel one ounce of white guilt about it. She just felt sad that that happened. Meanwhile, our students of color are dealing with actual harassment.”

The case was pending before Tennessee’s Twenty-First Judicial District as of August 5, 2022. Tennessee as of 2021 was one of 17 states that had imposed restrictions on curriculum material in public schools concerning topics such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.

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Ballotpedia’s mid-year recall report shows sustained interest in school board recall

In the first half of 2022, Ballotpedia tracked 152 recall efforts against 240 officials. These figures represent a small decline from 2021, when we tallied 165 recall efforts against 263 officials by midyear. In comparison, the highest number of recall efforts we have tracked by midyear was 189 in 2016. The lowest was 72 in 2019.

For the second year in a row, school board members drew more recall petitions than any other group. One-third of officials who faced recall campaigns in the first half of 2022 were school board members. City council members—the officials who drew the most efforts from 2016 to 2020—accounted for 32% of officials targeted for recall in 2022. 

For the first time since Ballotpedia started tracking this statistic in 2015, Michigan was the state with the most officials facing recall efforts in the first half of the year. Michigan saw 70 officials subject to a recall campaign, surpassing California, which had the most officials targeted for recall midway through the year from 2015 through 2021. 

In 2020, Ballotpedia began following recalls related to coronavirus and government responses to it. We have tallied 245 such efforts since 2020, including 27 efforts against 66 officials in the first half of 2022.

In this report, Ballotpedia also highlighted five noteworthy recall campaigns: the effort against Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D), the effort against San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D), the effort against County Commissioner William Bunek (R) in Leelanau County, Michigan, and the efforts against members of the San Francisco school board in California and the Newberg school board in Oregon.

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San Francisco voters recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin

San Francisco voters recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin on June 7, 2022. Mayor London Breed will appoint a temporary replacement, who will serve until voters elect a permanent district attorney in November.

Boudin was elected district attorney in 2019, defeating Suzy Loftus 50.8% to 49.2% in a ranked-choice voting election. Previously, Boudin served as deputy public defender in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. He earned a bachelor’s and a law degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from Oxford University in England.

Supporters alleged Boudin’s approach to crime led to increased crime rates. Boudin said his goal had been reforming the criminal justice system and that the recall was politically motivated. In his statement of defense, Boudin said reform was needed because “the old approaches did not make us safer; they ignored root causes of crime and perpetuated mass incarceration.”

A group called San Franciscans for Public Safety started the recall effort on April 28, 2021. According to The San Francisco Examiner, the effort was led by a pair of Democratic activists “seeking to prevent the recall effort against District Attorney Chesa Boudin from being framed as a conservative power grab.” Organizers had until October 25, 2021, to gather a minimum of 51,325 signatures in order to qualify the recall for the ballot. Supporters submitted approximately 83,000 signatures. Director of Elections John Arntz announced on November 9, 2021, that there were enough valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot.

The Notice of Intent that recall supporters published said, “Boudin is not keeping San Francisco safe. He refuses to adequately prosecute criminals and fails to take the drug dealing crisis seriously. He doesn’t hold serial offenders accountable, getting them released from custody, and his response to victims is that “hopefully” home burglaries will go down…Recalling someone shouldn’t be taken lightly, but San Francisco can’t wait two more years to improve public safety and fix our criminal justice system. Chesa Boudin must go — now.”

Boudin’s statement of defense said, “This is yet another recall relying on FALSE AND DISPROVEN REPUBLICAN talking points attempting to undo progress and take us backwards. Recalls are not political tools for people who lose elections. Voters thoughtfully and carefully elected DA Boudin because they support his work to reform an unjust system that too often criminalized poverty, addiction, and mental illness; failed to hold violent police accountable; and targeted people of color…DA Boudin is COMMITTED TO PUBLIC SAFETY, and to reforming the criminal justice system to provide safety, justice, and fairness for all San Franciscans.”

The San Franciscans for Public Safety’s recall effort was one of two initiated against Boudin in 2021. The first was started by Richie Greenberg, who previously ran for mayor as a Republican. The effort failed because organizers did not succeed in collecting 51,325 valid signatures by the deadline.

The Boudin recall was the second one to take place against a San Francisco elected official in 2022. In February, a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga.

Before this year’s recall of San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education members, then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein was the last elected official in the city to face a recall election—in 1983. Feinstein survived the recall with 81% of the vote in her favor.

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