Taghall pass

Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #47

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues:  The debate over Florida’s decision to ban an AP African American studies course
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • 240 school districts have boards with more than 10 members—Chicago Public Schools will soon be one of them 
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Email us at editor@ballotpedia.org to share reactions or story ideas!


Have a minute and an opinion? Take our 2023 reader survey!


On the issues: What different sides are saying about Florida’s decision on AP African American studies course

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

On Jan. 12, the Florida Department of Education rejected an AP African American studies course from being taught in its current form in K-12 schools. You can read our coverage of that story here

Rich Lowry writes that schools should teach about the Middle Passage, slavery, abolition, segregation, and discrimination against Black people but says the AP course is ideologically one-sided. Lowry cites a section of the course that covers Black queer studies and “shifts sexuality studies towards racial analysis,” according to the curriculum. He says students should not be exposed to what he says is explicitly ideological material in grades K-12. 

Renée Graham writes that Florida’s rejection of the AP African American studies course is motivated by racism. Graham says the decision promotes white supremacy by deemphasizing the importance of Black experiences, oppression, and accomplishments in the teaching of American history. She says the decision amounts to a “Don’t Say Black” rule, referring to the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act” that Florida passed in 2022 and which some called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

DeSantis is right to reject the woke AP African-American studies curriculum | Rich Lowry, New York Post

“No reasonable person opposes teaching American history fully and truthfully. (In Florida, the controversial Stop WOKE Act itself stipulates that instructors should teach the history of African peoples, the Middle Passage, the experience of slavery, abolition and the effects of segregation and other forms of discrimination.) The problem is when the curriculum is used as an ideological weapon to inculcate a distorted, one-sided worldview, and here, Florida has the College Board dead to rights. The College Board hasn’t released the pilot curriculum publicly, but, as conservative writer Stanley Kurtz and a publication called The Florida Standard have documented, it really goes off the rails when it addresses contemporary issues. The curriculum presents Black Lives Matter and the reparations movement favorably and recommends the writings of a clutch of writers on the left, from Robin D. G. Kelley to Michelle Alexander, without rejoinder. Bias aside, with the state of American historical and civic knowledge in near-collapse, who thinks high-school students need to be brushing up on “Black Queer Studies”? The curriculum explains that this topic “explores the concept of queer color critique, grounded in Black feminism and intersectionality, as a Black studies lens that shifts sexuality studies towards racial analysis.” Surely, if anyone wants to marinate in this dreck, he or she can wait to do it in college, which specializes in wasting students’ time and spreading ridiculous cant and lies.

Ron DeSantis’s fear of American history | Renée Graham, The Boston Globe

“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision to ban an African American studies course from Florida schools carries the stench of white slaveowners who fought to keep those they enslaved from learning to read and write English. … Those protesting loudest against indoctrination are usually the ones actively promoting it through their own divisive agendas. DeSantis refashioned “woke,” a decades-old Black term for staying vigilant and conscious of racial injustice and inequality, into a coded slur for anything or anyone he doesn’t like, including all things connected to the LGBTQ community. … Crucial to sustaining white supremacy is the erasure not only of Black trauma inflicted by systemic and institutional racism but Black accomplishment, triumph, and contributions. Although it shouldn’t be, “patriotism” has become shorthand for edifying whiteness as this nation’s one true compass. In rejecting the AP course, a college-level class for high school students, the DeSantis administration claimed it “significantly lacks educational value.” A ban wasn’t enough. He had to denigrate the course’s value because it centers Blackness in this nation’s history. It’s not just that DeSantis and other Republican legislators want to keep Black children from seeing their reflection in history. They also want white students force-fed a diet of supremacist propaganda, not unlike those pushed on earlier generations by textbook authors, the media, and popular culture.”


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 the more than 13,000 districts with elected school boards.


Upcoming school board elections

Ballotpedia is covering all school board primary elections in Oklahoma on Feb. 14. General elections are on April 4. We’ll be back with a preview of Oklahoma’s primaries in next week’s edition.  

Some of the districts holding elections include:

Ballotpedia is also covering a special school board election to fill a vacancy on the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees on Feb. 7. Two candidates are running for the District 6 seat—Daron Lee Calhoun II and Lee Runyon.

On Feb. 21, Ballotpedia will cover school board primaries in Wisconsin. As in Oklahoma, we’ll be covering every district holding primaries in the Badger State. 

Click here to learn more about 2023 school board elections.


240 school districts have a board with more than 10 members—Chicago Public Schools will soon be one of them 

Chicago, the nation’s third largest city, is holding a mayoral election on Feb. 28. Education has been a central issue in the race, with candidates weighing in on a law that will gradually hand control of the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education from the mayor to voters and expand the number of members to 21—making it one of the biggest boards in the country. Chicago Public Schools is the fourth largest district in the country, having recently fallen behind Miami-Dade Public Schools in Florida. 

Of the 13,194 school districts in the country, only 240—or about 2%—are governed by school boards with more than 10 members. Those 243 districts are spread across 18 states. 

Most district boards are composed of either five or seven members. Only 495 boards have six members, and only 86 have eight members. 

Unlike most districts, where voters select board members in elections, Chicago’s mayor appoints the seven members of the board. Chicago Public Schools is the only district in Illinois with an appointed school board. 

In 2021, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed House Bill 2908, which expands the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education to 21 members beginning in 2025. Voters will elect 10 members and the mayor will appoint the other 11. In 2026, all members of the board will be elected. 

Incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is seeking a second term, opposed HB 2908, saying it would “create an unwieldy 21-member board” and new layers of bureaucracy. Lightfoot also said she disliked that the bill did not limit campaign spending. Proponents of the bill, including Pritzker and the Chicago Teachers Union, said allowing city residents to have a direct say in selecting board members would increase transparency and accountability. 

The average school board consists of about six members.  

The number of school board members per district varies. West Virginia has the fewest school board members per district (3.45), followed by New Mexico (4.23), and Montana (4.26). Connecticut has the most school board members per district (9.97), followed by Louisiana (9.26), and Pennsylvania (8.69).

South Texas Independent School District (STISD) has the largest public school board in the country, with 24 members. STISD is composed solely of magnet schools. Around 4,100 students attend STISD. The largest board overseeing a traditional public school is the Maine School Administrative District 54 district, with a 23-member board. Around 2,370 students attend schools in that district. 

Districts with 10 or more board members enroll an average of 10,215 students. Chicago Public Schools enrolls more than 322,000 students.

In 2022, Ballotpedia researched the country’s more than 82,000 school board members. We covered that project in a previous edition of this newsletter. Click here to read about this project and see more of our research. 


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! 


Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Jackie Ulmer, who won in the general election for Cave Creek Unified School District Governing Board in Arizona, and Jose Magaña, who won in the general election for San Jose Unified Board of Education Trustee Area 2 in California.

Here’s how Ulmer answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?”

“From a school board perspective:

Academic Excellence

Transparent curriculum and a return to what schools are there to teach, and moving away from overreach in certain areas.

School and student Safety

Compensating teachers fairly

Stop surveying our children with inappropriate, and intrusive questions that have nothing to do with the student’s education or the school’s role.”

Click here to read the rest of Ulmer’s answers.


Here’s how Magaña answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?”

“I have spent over a decade serving in education. Whether it was my time as a teacher, coach, non-profit leader, or education policy/finance expert, I am fully dedicated to education policy. As Trustee, I have done the work and will continue to do the work on the following policy areas in education:

Student Academic Improvement, High-Impact Tutoring, Student Safety & Mental Health, Arts, STEM, & After School Programming, Employee Retention, More Resources from the Community, Transparent Communication.

I am the only candidate who has the experience, expertise and tangible wins that can move our district forward after the difficulty of the pandemic. My public service has been dedicated to equity, our children, and our most vulnerable. My opponent’s experience has been yelling at board meetings or not attending any at all. His extremist positions would demonize certain populations of students, families, and staff. Our schools need proven, mature, and collaborative leadership, not extremist politics.

My daughters, neighbors and community deserve the best leader to help move the district forward. We need experience not extremism.” 

Click here to read the rest of Magaña’s answers.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #46

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over ChatGPT in schools
  • In your district: Budgets
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • Florida Department of Education rejects African American Studies course
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Email us at editor@ballotpedia.org to share reactions or story ideas!


On the issues: The debate over ChatGPT in schools

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

ChatGPT is an online artificial intelligence program, released to the public in November 2022, that can respond to questions and requests in a smooth and often convincingly human manner. It can quickly write essays, code, and solve difficult math problems. Media outlets across the world have covered ChatGPT, highlighting the discussions and debates over the use of artificial intelligence programs in business, education, and beyond. 

Educators have responded to ChatGPT in varying ways. Districts in Los Angeles and New York City have already banned the service out of a concern that it could assist students in cheating. Other districts, like Chicago Public Schools, have not banned ChatGPT. 

Angela Duckworth and Lyle Ungar write that schools should not rush to ban ChatGPT in classrooms. They say such bans are impossible to enforce and students will still find ways to use the program if schools try to prohibit it. Duckworth and Unger say schools and teachers should instead work with students to develop assignments that incorporate ChatGPT but still require deeper critical thinking from students. 

The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board writes that schools should act quickly to ban ChatGPT in classrooms until educators develop a clear idea of how it might be incorporated into lessons without hurting students. The Editorial Board says allowing artificial intelligence programs in schools could tempt students to cheat since ChatGPT responses can sometimes pass plagiarism checks and teacher scrutiny. 

Op-Ed: Don’t ban chatbots in classrooms — use them to change how we teach | Angela Duckworth and Lyle Ungar, Los Angeles Times

“Banning such use of artificial intelligence from the classroom is an understandable but nearsighted response. Instead, we must find a way forward in which such technologies complement, rather than substitute for, student thinking. One day soon, GPT and similar AI models could be to essay writing what calculators are to calculus. … Banning ChatGPT is like prohibiting students from using Wikipedia or spell-checkers. Even if it were the “right” thing to do in principle, it is impossible in practice. Students will find ways around the ban, which of course will necessitate a further defensive response from teachers and administrators, and so on. It’s hard to believe that an escalating arms race between digitally fluent teenagers and their educators will end in a decisive victory for the latter. … [W]e must also figure out how to do something new: How to use tools like GPT to catalyze, not cannibalize, deeper thinking. Just like a Google search, GPT often generates text that is fluent and plausible — but wrong. So using it requires the same cognitive heavy lifting that writing does: deciding what questions to ask, formulating a thesis, asking more questions, generating an outline, picking which points to elaborate and which to drop, looking for facts to support the arguments, finding appropriate references to back them up and polishing the text.”

Editorial: Did your kid write that essay? Or did ChatGPT? | The Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune

“CPS is right to review the merits of student and teacher use of ChatGPT, but it’s wrong in not taking the same route as New York and Los Angeles. Cheating is as synonymous with classrooms as chalk and erasers. Yesteryear techniques ranged from crib sheets cupped in a student’s palms to a simple peek over the shoulder of a classmate. Today’s digital age takes the potential for cheating to new levels, and ChatGPT makes it far too easy for struggling students to lean on AI-generated writing in place of what comes out of their own heads. What’s especially worrisome is that ChatGPT’s syntax appears to be polished and natural enough to elude not just anti-plagiarism software but even the most seasoned educator’s scrutiny. We’re not Luddites, and we believe that technology must always be given space to advance the educational experience at every level, from preschool to university. ChatGPT may well have undeniable utility in a variety of classroom circumstances. First, however, school districts must determine how to best use ChatGPT without allowing its exploitation of student learning. Only then should it make its way into classrooms. … ChatGPT, and the myriad other manifestations of AI, should be welcomed for what they are — game-changers that help us live better lives. But in classrooms, care must always be taken to ensure that a new means of educating helps rather than harms.”


In your district: Budgets

We recently asked readers the following question:

What are your thoughts on the current and the proposed budget for your school district?

Today, we’re sharing a handful of those responses. 

A school board member from Wisconsin wrote

I would love to see a greater focus on funds directed towards long term capital improvements. There is not enough allowable funds to support our students and buildings.

A school board member from New Jersey wrote:

I am in New Jersey. We are experiencing about 7% inflation but are limited to no more than a 2% raise to the budget. Services will have to be cut, class sizes will grow, new teachers will have to find employment elsewhere.

A teacher from Virginia wrote:

The proposed budget includes a 5% salary increase partially funded by the state, which is nice, but a greater increase would be nice in the face of a retention crisis and inflation. Greater increases are being discussed at the state level, so we’ll see what happens. The budget also addresses mental health services and maintenance needs, which are both needed expenses.

A school board member from Vermont wrote:

We are a small district with about 420 students and shrinking. Faculty and learning support staff continues to grow to where our employed adults to students is 1:3 and our per student costs exceed $30,000! We are only able to ask tuition of 67% of our per student costs, yet much of the Board is willing to bet that voter indifference will enable continuation of this spiraling upward cost cycle. The change back to in-person town meeting, versus inclusion of all voters by mail, underlies their assumption that budget increase in excess of 10% will continue to fly and we see elementary classes of less than 10 students with three teachers in the room. How can we provide quality education on a smaller scale? Private schools seem to be able to do so. Why can’t we?

A community member from New Jersey wrote:

“School budgets in Stanhope New Jersey, in my view, the board voted without resident approval to remove public involvement in voting for the budget. They put a cap of two to three percent on budget escalation. They elected to establish Capital improvement bonds for future use as the chairman stated so as to maintain the present tax levy ratio and only initiate Capital repairs on a needs basis on select capital projects. The bonds are voted residence un-itemized, meaning voters were not allowed to pick and choose which specific items they supported for a bond. Stanhope board did not elect to have the vote take place at the same time as a general election intentionally so as to minimize voter turnout. This is the same practice used when School board elections take place intentionally to minimize turnout. Voters in the town are about 2480 some 300 voted with 200 approving the bond. How unrepresentative can an election be when voter turnout is under roughly 10% and approval is 8%.

It is time to remove school boards and place control in the hands of the county or state because school board members do not bring any special expertise to the board and members are manipulated by its chairman an ex vice principal along with the superintendent. Charter schools and parent choice should be the only consideration given by States so as to educate the children of that state.”

Thank you to all who responded. We’ll be back with a new question next month. If you have ideas for a question you’d like to see us ask, reply to this email to let us know!


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 the more than 13,000 districts with elected school boards.


Upcoming school board elections

Ballotpedia is covering all school board elections in Oklahoma on Feb. 14, which districts hold primaries. General elections are on April 4. Some of the districts holding elections include:

Ballotpedia is also covering a special school board election to fill a vacancy on the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees on Feb. 7. Two candidates are running for the District 6 seat—Daron Lee Calhoun II and Lee Runyon.

On Feb. 21, Ballotpedia will cover school board primaries in Wisconsin. We’ll have more to say about those elections in the coming weeks. 

Click here to learn more about 2023 school board elections.


Florida Department of Education rejects African American Studies course

On Jan. 12, the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Articulation announced in a letter to the College Board, an education nonprofit that oversees the Advancement Placement (AP) program in high schools, that a pilot AP African American Studies course “is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value” and would not be included in state curricula. The letter said the state would be willing to reopen discussions with the College Board if it revised the course. 

Florida law requires public schools to teach African American history. 

AP courses allow public high school students to receive college credit. The African American Studies course is currently being tested in 60 schools across the country, with the aim of offering the course in all high schools in the 2024-2025 school year. 

The College Board said “the interdisciplinary course reaches into a variety of fields—literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, and science—to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans.” According to the College Board, students in AP classes are expected to analyze issues from different perspectives but are not required to agree with any point of view. 

The Florida Department of Education letter did not cite the law the AP African American Studies course is alleged to have violated. In 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed House Bill 7, which regulates how schools and businesses can teach topics like race and gender. The law prohibits schools and businesses from requiring students or employees to participate in trainings or classes that teach “an individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” DeSantis has referred to the law as the Stop WOKE Act. 

On Nov. 17, 2022, U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida Judge Mark E. Walker blocked a part of the law regulating discussions of race in colleges and universities. That case is ongoing. Former President Barack Obama (D) appointed Walker in 2012.

Reactions to the Florida Department of Education’s decision largely played out along partisan lines. 

Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones (D) said “Gov. DeSantis’ whitewashing of history and book bans are his latest assault on American history and our First Amendment rights. Horrifyingly, it is our vulnerable and underrepresented students who will suffer the most as a result.”

DeSantis said, “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”

On Jan. 20, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the decision, saying: “Let’s not forget, [the Florida Department of Education] didn’t block AP European history, they didn’t block music history or art history, but the state chooses to block a course that is meant for high-achieving high school students to learn about their history of arts and culture.”

Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, whom DeSantis recommended for the position in 2021, tweeted: “Despite the lies from the Biden White House, Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law. We proudly require the teaching of African American history. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a term that has been used by academics in scholarly works dating back to the 1970s. The term has come into widespread use among politicians, journalists, and others in recent years, particularly in debates about K-12 curriculum outside academia. Since its early development, the term has taken on a wider variety of perceived meanings.

Diaz released a chart highlighting parts of the course the Department of Education found objectionable, including topics focused on Intersectionality and Activism, the Reparations Movement, and Black Queer Studies. The chart said the section on Intersectionality and Activism was a concern because “Intersectionality is foundational to CRT, and ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender and sexual orientation.” The chart said the section on the Reparations Movement was a concern because “All points and resources in this study advocate for reparations. There is no critical perspective or balancing opinion in this lesson.”

For some, like Jason Nichols, a senior lecturer in the University of Maryland College Park’s African American Studies Department, the concern is that the refusal to approve the course is a form of censorship. Nichols said, “Most of all, Americans who are concerned about free speech should be terrified by reactionary government officials like DeSantis, whose answer to complicated questions is authoritarian censorship, book banning, and curtailing academic freedoms.”

Writing for National Review, Stanley Kurtz faulted the College Board for refusing to release to the public the course material, saying, “This secrecy validates long-standing concerns about the College Board’s acting as a de facto unelected national school board.” Kurtz said other states should decline to approve the course until the College Board publicly shares the course content. 

The College Board said: “The process of piloting and revising course frameworks is a standard part of any new AP course, and frameworks change significantly as a result. We look forward to publicly releasing the updated course framework as soon as it is completed and well before this class is widely available in American high schools.”

Ballotpedia has covered a range of CRT- and CRT-adjacent issues. Click the links below to read more of our coverage:


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! 


Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Adaline Villneurve Rutherford (R), who won outright in the primary for St. Tammany Parish School Board District 3 in Louisiana, and Terri Knudsen, who won in the general election for Morgan Hill Unified Board of Education Trustee Area 3 in California.

Louisiana is one of four states that automatically allow partisan school board board elections or party labels to appear on the ballot. 

Here’s how Rutherford answered the question, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

  • “Our children deserve better! We need to get back to being the best! At one time the St. Tammany Parish School System was TOP, but now we are ranked 18th. Clearly, we are not utilizing our supportive community resources to maximize our teachers’ potential. I want to see CHANGE!
  • We need to address teacher and substitute shortages. We need to work harder to retain our teachers. We also need to quickly do background checks and get people signed up to substitute. We can’t have this continue the way it is.
  • Accountability and transparency are key. My priorities would be to hold the school board accountable fiscally, to be an accessible voice for my constituents and district employees, and move forward in a positive direction.”

Click here to read the rest of Rutherford’s answers.


Here’s how Knudsen answered the question, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

  • I will advocate for responsible budgets that directly impact the classroom. We need to attract and retain excellent teachers and have smaller class sizes.
  • If elected, I will listen and seek input from all stakeholders, including students and their families, community members and school staff, before decisions are made.
  • Our schools need to identify and provide support for all students, especially those who struggle, such as LGTBQ, socio-economically disadvantaged, students of color and students with disabilities. As a board member, I will only approve policies that will be in the best interest of all of our students and schools.

Click here to read the rest of Knudsen’s answers.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter that keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues:  The debate over using school suspensions to discipline students
  • In your district: Budgets  
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • Eight state executive candidates endorsed 106 school board candidates in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope in 2022
  • Orange County districts fire superintendents 
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Email editor@ballotpedia.org to share reactions or story ideas!


On the issues: The debate over using school suspensions to discipline students 

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Should schools suspend students for misbehavior? 

Max Eden writes that suspensions protect other students and ensure a focused learning environment. He says trying to reduce racial disparities through non-suspension policies can result in exposing students to more violence. Eden also says that while suspensions can harm students, disruptive peers who are not removed from classrooms can harm other students and their ability to focus and learn.  

Linda Stamato and Sandy Jaffee write that suspensions harm students and disproportionately affect children of color and children from lower-income families. Stamato and Jaffee say suspensions do not reduce bad behavior and that most behavioral problems are best dealt with at school. Stamato and Jaffee say that most disputes are resolvable and that faculty should try to help students better process their feelings. They call the in-school mediation process restorative justice and say it can reduce suspensions and promote racial equity.

In Defense of Suspensions | Max Eden, EducationWeek

“[I]f we pursue wholesale policy changes on the assumption racial bias is solely responsible for the disparity (the assumption behind the Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague” guidance on discipline) then we run a strong risk of overcorrecting. Rapid overhauls of the entire system might well breed rampant disorder in schools—and in places where that approach has been taken, the results aren’t looking pretty. … [W]hile claims of the benefits of not suspending disruptive students are likely oversold, the harm done to students by disruptive peers is certainly underappreciated. … It’s fair to question whether suspensions are truly the best tool to maintain classroom order. But it’s important to recognize that any major policy change is likely to have tradeoffs, harming some students even as it helps others. … We simply don’t have enough data to evaluate the effects of discipline changes in most American school districts. That means that the policymakers pushing suspension-reduction reforms are doing so quite literally ignorant of the consequences of their actions for poor and minority students who are just trying to behave, learn, and have a fair opportunity at life.”

Suspending students isn’t the answer. Restorative justice programs in schools are a better solution. | Opinion | Linda Stamato and Sandy Jaffee, NJ.com

“Suspensions raise a number of issues, not least how to deal with disruptive behavior, equitably and effectively, to understand its causes, and to identify and address conditions that may be contributing factors. The critical question is this: Does removing students from school reduce the incidence of aberrant behavior? The short answer is no. Suspended students are more likely to be suspended more than once, to drop out of school, moreover, and to end up in court accused of crimes. And yet, schools have relied on suspension as the primary means of dealing with discipline problems. … Restorative justice attempts to reach beyond punitive measures to solve problems before they escalate and threaten the fabric of the school community. … Critical in these efforts is the recognition that students with behavioral problems are unlikely to be helped by removing them from school and providing no support services or establishing any conditions to be met before they return to classes. Conflict, after all, involves bullying, disrespect, harassment and fights often mask prejudice, attitudes, hurts and fears that contribute to tensions that clearly require attention. While conflict may be natural, schools need to provide constructive avenues for students’ expression and management.”


In your district: Budgets 

School districts around the country face diverse issues and challenges. We want to hear what’s happening in your school district. Complete the very brief survey below—anonymously, if you prefer—and we may share your response with fellow subscribers in an upcoming newsletter.

Today’s question:

 What are your thoughts on the current and proposed budget for your school district? 

Click here to respond!


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 the more than 13,000 districts with elected school boards.


Upcoming school board elections

Ballotpedia is covering all school board elections in Oklahoma on Feb. 14. On that day, Oklahoma districts will hold primary elections. General elections will be held April 4. Some of the districts holding elections include:

Click here to learn more about 2023 school board elections. 

Eight state executive candidates endorsed 106 school board candidates in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope in 2022

Governors and other state executive officials rarely make endorsements in school board elections, as those elections are local and typically nonpartisan. But in 2022, state executive officials and candidates made at least 106 school board candidate endorsements. Endorsements included official statements, appearances at campaign rallies, and direct participation in campaign ads and materials. The state executives and candidates to make endorsements were:

  • Arizona: Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) and Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Shiry Sapir (R)
  • California: Attorney general candidate Eric Early (R)
  • Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist (D), and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R)
  • Maryland: Gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox (R)

DeSantis was the only executive whose full slate of candidates won. Across all 106 endorsements, candidates had a 56.6% success rate.

To view a full list of endorsements for each candidate, click here.

Orange County districts fire superintendents

On Jan. 6, the Orange Unified School District school board in Orange County, Calif., voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen. The board deliberated behind closed doors, and did not explain its decision. Hansen became superintendent of Orange Unified School District in 2017, having previously served as the district’s superintendent of educational services. 

Hansen is the second Orange County public school superintendent fired in the last three weeks. 

On Dec. 21, 2022, the Capistrano Unified School District school board voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Kirsten Vital Brulte. Board President Krista Castellanos said in an email: “It is important to mention that the action taken was not for cause. We are grateful for her leadership and wish her the best in her future endeavors.” Brulte became superintendent in 2014.  

In November, the ideological balance of the Orange Unified Board of Education school board shifted when Madison Miner defeated Kathryn Moffat, a 22-year incumbent, in the general election for Orange Unified Board of Education Trustee Area 4. Miner completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. In the survey, Miner said she planned to, “Cut wasteful spending and return tax dollars to the classrooms where they belong. Protect our parents’ rights with medical and school choice decisions. Adopt better options to replace the current ethnic studies and sex ed curriculum.” 

Orange Unified and Capistrano are on our list of districts where candidates in the 2022 elections took positions on race in education/critical race theory, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, or sex and gender in schools. Click here to read more about our project tracking conflicts in school board elections. 

In addition to tracking conflicts in school board elections, we also track instances in which school boards have fired superintendents. Recently, some superintendent dismissals have been related to race in education/critical race theory, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, or sex and gender in schools. 

Here is a list of recent noteworthy K-12 public schools superintendent dismissals:

  • Brevard Public Schools, Florida: On Nov. 22, 2022, the Brevard Public Schools school board voted 3-2 to move forward with terminating Superintendent Mark Mullins’ contract with the district. Mullins agreed to resign. Brevard was on our list of 2022 school board battlegrounds. Candidates Gene Trent and Megan Wright were elected, giving Republicans a 4-1 majority. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), endorsed Wright. 
  • Sarasota County Schools, Florida: On Dec. 13, the Sarasota County Schools school board voted 4-1 to remove Superintendent Brennan Asplen. Sarasota was on our list of districts where candidates took on a stance on race in education/critical race theory, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, or sex and gender in schools. The November elections changed the partisan composition of the board, with Republicans gaining a 4-1 majority (Democrats had a 3-2 majority before the election). Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R) endorsed two Sarasota candidates who won their elections—Bridget Ziegler and Timothy Enos
  • Broward County Public Schools, Florida: On Nov. 14, 2022, the Broward County Public Schools school board voted 5-4 to remove Superintendent Vickie Cartwright. Gov. DeSantis (R) appointed all five members in August 2022. However, on Dec. 13, the board voted 5-3 to rescind the dismissal. Board member Allen Zeman said he voted to undo the firing because the board had promised Cartwright 90 days to address the board’s concerns but had voted to dismiss her before that time had elapsed. Cartwright will face another vote on Jan 24. 
  • Berkeley County School District, South Carolina: On Nov. 15, the Berkeley County School District school board voted 6-3 to remove Superintendent Deon Jackson. In the Nov. 8, 2022, elections, the local county Republican Party endorsed all six board members who voted to remove Jackson. The board also voted 6-2 on the same evening to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory. 

We’ll have more about this project of tracking superintendent firings in a future edition.

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! 


Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Linfeng Chen (R), who won in the general election for Howard County Public Schools Board of Education At-large in Maryland, and Diana Hawley, who won election for Cecil County Board of Education District 5 in Maryland.

Here’s how Chen answered the question, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

  • “My vision: A Successful public school system nurtures students’ well-being, creates a sense of belonging and safety, provides every student with necessary resources to succeed.
  • Platform: Commit to quality of public education; Invest in school infrastructure; Prioritize students’ physical and mental health; Promote strength of diversity; Utilize taxpayer money responsibly
  • Better Education for All, Vote for Chen!”

Click here to read the rest of Chen’s answers.


Here’s how Hawley answered the question, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

  • “I will continue to advocate for a responsible budget that allows for safe and functional facilities, student and staff resources (including addressing mental health needs), and smaller class sizes
  • I am a CCPS parent who continues to promote positive parent involvement, curriculum transparency, and productive communication
  • I will continue to work to provide equitable opportunities for ALL students, including the needs of marginalized populations. It is important to continue to work to provide academic rigor, increased early intervention opportunities, and a quality college and career readiness program.”

Click here to read the rest of Hawley’s answers.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues:  The debate over four-day school weeks
  • In your district: Budgets
  • In Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc., SCOTUS could decide if charter schools are state actors
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

On Dec. 13, 2022, the Independence School District in Missouri became the largest district in the state (with about 14,000 students) to adopt a four-day school week for all grade levels. Independence School District is the 557th largest district by enrollment in the country. Officials in the nearby St. Joseph School District (with more than 10,000 students) are reportedly considering the change as well. 

Paul Hill writes that four-day school weeks do not save money because teachers, administrators, and most professional staff receive the same annual pay. Hill says teachers and students are more likely to lose focus in longer school days and that four-day school weeks worsen learning losses from sick days and other absences. He also says four-day weeks disproportionately harm lower-income and minority students with fewer resources at home and hurt the rural school districts that have tried the policy.

Lucy Rycroft-Smith writes about Colorado school districts that had statistically significant improvements in math scores after switching to a four-day school week. Rycroft-Smith says four-day weeks reduce stress for students and give them more time for play, extracurricular learning, and daytime appointments (like doctor’s visits) that would normally cause absences from school. She also says the policy gives teachers more time to plan lessons, collaborate, and seek professional development.

Beware the Four-Day School-Week Trap | Paul Hill, EducationWeek

“All teachers and most professional staff get the same annual pay for the four longer days, with the savings coming only from that fifth day of busing costs, utility bills, and wages of some support staff, such as those in custodial or food services. … Supporters of the four-day week assert that the longer days make up for the missed fifth day. But teachers and students, especially the younger children, may not work as effectively at the end of such long days, thus reducing overall learning. Low-income and minority students, who generally have fewer learning resources at home, stand to lose disproportionately from the loss of a day in school. High school students assigned homework every school day will have one less evening of preparation per week. And days lost to illness or weather will have a greater impact on learning time. Nobody seriously argues that less time in school will increase student learning. And here’s the rub: The hundreds of four-day-week districts in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, and Oregon are overwhelmingly rural districts, which, on average, fall below state means on student achievement, graduation rates, and college attendance. A policy that just holds student results to previous levels will not expand students’ college options or help communities attract new businesses and jobs.”

What a difference a day makes: the argument for a four-day school week | Lucy Rycroft-Smith, The Guardian

“The four-day school week for students in Colorado was introduced as a cost-saving measure, and the improvements in academic results were the opposite of what had been anticipated, Walker explains. … But the results show that, even for these young students, a four-day school week had a statistically significant positive impact on maths scores (around 7% extra on average), and a possible positive impact on reading scores (although this was not deemed statistically significant by the study’s testing standards). … [A]s someone who taught for 10 years, I can certainly see the potential benefits. It would give young people some much-needed breathing space and, in schools where the fifth day was used for extracurricular activities, students wouldn’t have to choose between academic study and other pursuits. … The benefits for teachers should not be overlooked either. Those who took part in the study reported greater efficiency and better collaboration when they used the fifth day to plan together, with some schools even finding that staff turnover was reduced. … Perhaps most exciting is the potential to use the fifth day to provide good-quality continued professional development and support for teachers where it is (sometimes desperately) needed.”

In your district: Budgets 

School districts around the country face diverse issues and challenges. We want to hear what’s happening in your school district. Complete the very brief survey below—anonymously, if you prefer—and we may share your response with fellow subscribers in an upcoming newsletter.

Today’s question:

What are your thoughts on the current and proposed budget for your school district? 

Click here to respond!

In Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc., SCOTUS could decide if charter schools are state actors

A case before the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) could help answer whether charter schools are public schools or private organizations for the 45 states with laws authorizing charter schools. As of this writing, SCOTUS is considering whether to hear the case.

Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc. concerns whether charter schools are state actors subject to constitutional review under Title 42 of the United States Code Section 1983. Section 1983 allows individuals to sue the government for civil rights violations.

The case arose from a school uniform policy. Charter Day School, a charter school in North Carolina that receives 95% of its funding from federal, state, and local governments, requires female students to wear skirts, jumpers, or skorts (shorts designed to look like a skirt) and male students to wear pants or shorts. In 2016, Bonnie Peltier, her daughter (a student at the school), two other student families, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Charter Day School in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. They alleged the skirt requirement violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in public schools. Charter Day School responded that “as a private nonprofit corporation that contracts with the State to operate a charter school, it is not a state actor and therefore not subject to suit under Section 1983.”

In 2019, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Judge Malcolm Howard ruled the uniform policy was unconstitutional. Former President Ronald Reagan (R) appointed Howard in 1987. 

Charter Day School appealed the decision to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth District. The Religious Freedom Institute, along with other organizations, submitted an amicus brief in support of Charter Day School. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, along with other organizations, submitted an amicus brief in support of Bonnie Peltier and other plaintiffs. 

On June 14, 2022, the court ruled 10-6 that North Carolina charter schools are state actors. The court held that Charter Day School’s dress code policy violated female students’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause.

Writing for the majority, Senior Judge Barbara Keenan said: “Ultimately, the state action inquiry in this case is not complicated: (1) North Carolina is required under its constitution to provide free, universal elementary and secondary schooling to the state’s residents; (2) North Carolina has fulfilled this duty in part by creating and funding the public charter school system; and (3) North Carolina has  exercised its sovereign prerogative to treat these state-created and state-funded schools as public institutions that perform the traditionally exclusive government function of operating the state’s public schools.” 

Former President Barack Obama (D) nominated Keenan to the Fourth District.

In a partial dissent, Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum wrote: “My worry is that the majority’s reasoning transforms all charter schools in North Carolina, and likely all charter schools in the other states that form our circuit, into state actors. As a result, the innovative alternatives to traditional public education envisioned by North Carolina when it passed the Charter Schools Act, and thus the choices available to parents, will be limited.”

Former President Donald Trump (R) nominated Quattlebaum to the Fourth District.

Charter Day School presented the following question to the Supreme Court in its appeal: “Whether a private entity that contracts with the State to operate a charter school engages in state action when it formulates a policy without coercion or encouragement by the government.”

Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia joined together to file an amicus brief asking SCOTUS on behalf of Charter Day School to take up the case. The states argued classifying charter schools as state actors undermines their own charter schools’ independence.  

On Jan. 6, SCOTUS reviewed the case. On Jan. 9, SCOTUS asked U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to file a brief expressing the Biden administration’s thoughts on the case. SCOTUS’ request does not mean it will ultimately hear the case. 

During its 2021-2022 term, SCOTUS issued rulings on at least two cases with broad implications for K-12 public education—Carson v. Makin and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. Click here to read our coverage of those cases.

We’ll bring you more on Peltier v. Charter Day School as it develops. 

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! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Robert Barr (R), who won the general election for one of four seats on Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools school board District 2 in North Carolina, and Tracy Miller, who won the general election Jordan Board of Education Precinct 3 in Utah.

Here’s how Barr answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?”

“Making sure all of our kids have the support and resources to learn. I grew up in public housing, raised by a single parent, and economically disadvantaged. However, because of the support of a guidance counselor and a program called Upward Bound that helped my mother and I navigate the educational system I was able to achieve some success. I have a Masters Degree from Wake Forest and a Bachelors Degree from Winston-Salem State University. Through education and the proper support, all children can learn. I am a big advocate of parental involvement and engagement. Parents are a crucial and critical part of children learning.”

Click here to read the rest of Barr’s answers.

Here’s how Miller answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?”

“I am passionate about public education! I have spent the past decade helping our schools in various capacities. Prior to serving on the school board I spent a lot of time advocating at the state capitol for parent voice on School Community Councils. I was instrumental in getting a constitutional amendment passed that has resulted in increased funding for our schools through the School Land Trust program.”
Click here to read the rest of Miller’s answers.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #43

Happy 2023, and welcome back to Hall Pass! We hope you had a restful holiday! 

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over retesting
  • In 2022, 114 school board members faced recall efforts
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over retesting

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Should teachers allow students to retake tests? Today, we’ll look at perspectives on both sides of that question.

Anthony Palm writes that policies allowing students to take tests one time and that penalize late work are best for student learning. He says these policies motivate students, prevent student procrastination, and give teachers more time to plan lessons.

Thomas R. Guskey writes that retesting should be a standard process of assessment, correction, and reassessment. Guskey says retesting motivates students to improve with a second chance at success and helps to prevent struggling students from falling behind.

The Case for Not Allowing Test Retakes | Anthony Palma, Edutopia

“Deadlines and consequences for late work provide scaffolding for students to learn self-control. These policies provide the extrinsic motivation students need to build study habits and time management skills. In my experience, reform policies rely too heavily on students already having strong self-control and intrinsic motivation. … Retake policies also allow students to dig themselves into “late holes” that cause preventable stress and anxiety. My math class builds sequentially: Mastery in early units helps students be successful in the following units. In my experience, traditional policies motivate students to maximize their learning in the first unit, which helps them on every later unit. … Reform policies can be effective if the teacher has time to implement them well. However, every minute writing and grading retakes or grading long-overdue work is a minute that I’m not planning effective and creative instruction, grading current work so students receive timely feedback, or communicating with parents.”

Why Should We Allow Students to Retake Assessments? | Thomas R. Guskey, EducationWeek

“But assessments alone do little to improve student learning or teaching quality. What counts is what happens after the assessments. Just as regularly checking your weight or blood pressure does little to improve your health if you do nothing with the information, what matters most with formative assessments is what students and teachers do with the results… To bring improvement, Bloom stressed formative assessments must be followed by high-quality, corrective instruction designed to remedy whatever learning errors the assessments identified. … When the correctives are completed after a class period or two, Bloom recommended students who engaged in correctives be given a second, parallel formative assessment for two reasons. First, the second assessment helps teachers determine if the correctives were effective in helping students remedy their learning difficulties. Second, and perhaps more important, it gives students a second chance at success and, hence, has great motivational value.

In 2022, 114 school board members faced recall efforts

In June 2022, we walked you through our annual mid-year report on recall efforts. We found that in the first half of the year, school board members were the subject of more recall efforts than any other type of officeholder—continuing a trend we saw in 2021. Now that the year is over, let’s look back at recall efforts throughout 2022. 

We tracked 250 recall efforts against 419 officials throughout the year, with city council members leading the list. Although school board members were the objects of more recall efforts in the first half of the year, they finished the year second to city council members. A total of 167 city council or town board members faced recall campaigns in 2022, while 114 school board members faced recall campaigns.

Overall, 56 officials across all office types were recalled in 2022. 

In 2021, school board members faced more recalls than other types of officeholders for the first time since 2012, when Ballotpedia began tracking recall efforts. Previously, city council members faced the most recalls. 

We tracked 50 school board recall efforts against 114 board members last year. Recall elections against school board members were held on Jan. 11, Jan. 18, Jan. 24, Feb. 15, March 29, April 4, and Nov. 8, 2022. The school board recall success rate was 7.0%.

Here are a few notable school board recall efforts from 2022:

  • Recall elections against Dave Brown and Brian Shannon, Zone 6 and 7 representatives on the Newberg School District school board in Oregon, respectively, were held in January 2022. Both members retained their offices with 52% of the vote opposing the recall. The recall effort against Shannon started after the board voted 4-3 on Aug. 10, 2021, to remove Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ pride flags in district schools. The ban also included political signs, clothing, and other items. The effort to recall Brown began after the board voted 4-3 to fire Superintendent Joe Morelock without cause. Morelock had been under contract through June 2024.
  • In February 2022, voters recalled San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education members Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. Recall supporters had said they were frustrated district schools remained closed for nearly a year in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also noted the time the board spent voting to rename 44 buildings in the district instead of focusing on opening schools.
  • An effort to recall three members of the Richland School District school board in Washington—M. Semi Bird, Audra Byrd, and Kari Williams—began in the spring of 2022. Recall supporters said the board members violated the Open Public Meetings Act; violated district policies, procedures, and code of ethics; and voted to make masks optional while a statewide mask requirement was in place. All three board members denied any wrongdoing and appealed the petition to the Washington Supreme Court. Requires “acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office or violation of oath of office” for a recall to move forward. If the state supreme court rules the petition drive can begin, supporters will have 180 days to collect signatures equal to 35% of the votes cast for the school board seats in the last election.
  • An effort to recall three of the seven members of the Salem-Keizer Public Schools school board in Oregon did not qualify for the ballot after organizers did not turn in the required number of signatures by the November 2022 deadline. The effort began after the school board voted 4-3 to approve a resolution prohibiting concealed guns on school property.

You can read more about our year-end recall analysis here. Click here for more information about school board recalls specifically. 

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! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Madison Klovstad Miner, who won the general election for Orange Unified Board of Education Trustee Area 4 in California, and Staci Martin, who won in the general election for Virginia Beach City Public Schools District 4 in Virginia.  election for Virginia Beach City Public Schools Distr

Here’s how Miner answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am concerned with the overreach from special interest groups in our childrens’ schools. Our hard earned tax dollars should be spent in the classrooms and our teachers need better support. Our children are all different and deserve opportunities for more individualized curriculum.”

Click here to read the rest of Miner’s answers.

Here’s how Martin answered the question,“What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am personally passionate and knowledgeable about how education impacts economic development and household wealth acquisition. We lose too much human potential to the lack of a few hundred dollars in resources. I understand the connections between creating growth opportunities that generate revenue for a locality and how investing some of that revenue into education continues a self-reinforcing growth pattern that keeps taxes low. I understand that our city has a debt cap and that the debt must be allocated with education as its highest priority and with economic development as its second highest priority. From there, our locality revenues will maintain a growth pattern against the backdrop of an educated workforce, entrepreneurship, and innovation.”

Click here to read the rest of Martin’s answers.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #41

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over teachers’ union leadership
  • Where the nine governors-elect stand on education
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over teachers’ union leadership

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

In a recent interview with Semafor, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized the leadership of teachers’ unions and said, “The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten. It’s not a close call.” Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers’ union in America. This week, we’ll look at responses to Pompeo’s statement.

Ira Stoll writes that Weingarten and other teachers’ union leaders are not as powerful or influential as Pompeo says. Stoll says that union leadership represents members and cannot force union policies top-down. He also says responsibility for building curriculum in many states and localities falls to state officials and school board members, not teachers’ unions.

Natalya Murakhver writes that teachers’ union leaders, including Weingarten, opposed the interests of parents and students and played a large role in lobbying for policies that kept schools closed and students masked during the coronavirus pandemic. Murakhver says such policies contributed to lower math and reading achievement. 

Is Randi Weingarten Really “The Most Dangerous Person in the World”? | Ira Stoll, Education Next

“On the substance, Pompeo is off base in a lot of important ways. He singles out Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, by name without mentioning the president of the larger National Education Association. He doesn’t mention that rather than imposing her own views, top-down, on the union, Weingarten is elected to represent union members, some of whom are far to her left, and most of whom may be more invested in pay and pension issues than the substance of the social studies curriculum. Weingarten didn’t invent the 1619 Project; Nikole Hannah-Jones did. Of all the factors influencing education outcomes in America, teacher-union political power is only one among many. Plenty of jurisdictions with strong unions also have strong math and reading test scores. And in plenty of other places, decisions about textbooks and curriculum are made largely not by the unions but by Republican state and local elected officials. The governments that collapsed most dramatically in recent memory were Communist ones, such as Poland and the Soviet Union, where workers were forbidden from organizing labor unions that were independent of government control.”

Mike Pompeo is right: Randi Weingarten IS a danger to our children | Natalya Murakhver, The New York Post

“The pandemic lockdowns pulled back the curtain and exposed us to the harsh truth. Suddenly, as parents found themselves fighting on the frontlines to reopen our nation’s schools, we were faced with an unfamiliar — and to many of my fellow liberal Democrats unexpected — adversary. While we may have previously believed we share the same values — commitment to diversity, freedom of choice and all basic civil liberties — it turned out the fake values the unions espoused were not what we thought. Furthermore, they held all the cards while parents were left holding their inconsolable children. … So you’ll understand why Mike Pompeo’s comment that Randi is the most dangerous person in the world resonated with me. Randi and her fellow union leaders are the ones who kept our schools closed, our children masked and our communities divided during the darkest times of our lives. They had countless opportunities to lead, to help to unite. But they chose to destroy instead. The result? Math tests scores decreased by the largest amount ever. Decades were taken off reading scores. The union, meanwhile, wants fewer tests, less accountability, and an overall lowering of academic standards.”

Where the nine first-time governors stand on education

On Nov. 8, voters elected 36 governors—nine for the first time. Of the nine first-time governors, six are Democrats and three are Republicans. Most of the governors-elect will assume office in January 2023, and they will begin carrying out their priorities—which, for all governors, includes making changes to state education policies.

Governors play a central role in influencing education policy. But that hasn’t always been the case. According to education and government scholar Arnold Shober, before the 1970s, “many governors felt comfortable leaving education to school boards and state

superintendents because states provided relatively modest payments to districts.” 

Today, governors set a vision for education in their annual State of the State Addresses. Governors also propose state budgets that include education financing, and approve the final version of the budget the legislature passes. In many states, governors appoint state superintendents or state board of education members.

In the sections that follow, we’ll briefly look at what the new governors-elect have said about their K-12 public education priorities. 

Arizona

Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D) defeated Kari Lake (R) 50.4% to 49.6%. Hobbs is the Arizona Secretary of State. Doug Ducey (R) was term-limited.

Hobbs’ education plan includes universal Pre-K, hiring more school counselors and social workers, investing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teachers, and making charter schools more accountable to taxpayers. 

Hobbs opposes Arizona’s recently-implemented Empowerment Scholarship Account program. The program allows all K-12 students to use taxpayer-funded education accounts to attend schools or pay for curriculum or tutoring outside the public school system. Hobbs said: “This voucher system we are under now doesn’t provide real choice in educational opportunity for most families. It diverts resources from public schools and provides a subsidy for already wealthy children whose parents could already afford private education for them.”

Arkansas

Gov.-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) defeated Chris Jones (D) 63.1% to 35.1%. Incumbent Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) was term-limited. 

Huckabee Sanders titled her education plan Arkansas LEARNS. The plan calls for improving access to Pre-K (Literacy), curriculum transparency and choice (Empowerment), rewarding quality teachers with higher pay (Accountability), preparing students for the workforce (Readiness), expanding access to high-speed internet (Networking), and school safety and mental health (Safety). 

Hawaii

Governor Joshua Green (D) defeated Duke Aiona (R) 67.2% to 32.8%. Green, who was sworn into office on Dec. 7, was the Hawaii Lieutenant Governor. Former Gov. David Ige (D) was term-limited. 

Green said he would “develop and fund a universal public Pre-K program” and “expand literacy programs for students who need extra help reading.” Green also said he would “hire and retain quality, experienced teachers by offering competitive pay, benefits, and affordable housing” and “conduct a comprehensive review of Department of Education spending to identify and direct more resources into our classrooms.”

Green said: “Finding the right superintendent who sets the right culture for the DOE is critical; and my preference for this position would be an individual who has an education background, has experience within the DOE system or one similar to it.”

Maryland

Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D) defeated Dan Cox (R) 59.8% to 37%. Incumbent Larry Hogan (R) was term-limited.

Moore’s education plan includes fully funding Maryland’s Blueprint for Education, a 2021 law that increased education funding by $3.8 billion a year over 10 years, raising teacher salaries and strengthening collective bargaining, providing free Pre-K, and encouraging students to go into STEM fields and funding dual enrollment and apprenticeship programs. 

Massachusetts

Gov.-elect Maura Healey (D) defeated Geoff Diehl (R) 63.8% to 34.7%. Healey is the state attorney general. Incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker (R) did not seek re-election.

Healey’s education plan includes fully funding the Student Opportunity Act, a 2019 law that would add $1.5 billion to Massachusetts schools over seven years, hiring more school counselors and social workers, updating school buildings, and promoting “policies and legislation that will create a pipeline to better recruit, retain, and promote educators of color.” 

Nebraska

Gov.-elect Jim Pillen (R) defeated Carol Blood (D) 59.9% to 36.2%. Pillen is an elected member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) was term-limited. 

Pillen says: “Our mission in education is to prepare our children for the future, not introduce political ideology. As the parent of a high school junior, I join thousands of Nebraska parents in opposing the proposed State Board of Education ‘health standards,’ which sexualize students and supplant parental values with a radical view.”

Pillen supports charter schools and believes the school funding formula should change: “I’m not talking about defunding. I’m talking about changing the funding. So let’s just keep it simple math. A billion dollars of state funds divided by the number of students, and the funding follows a student to the school district. So it’s per student funding, not per district funding. “

Nevada

Gov.-elect Joe Lombardo (R) defeated incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) 49.7% to 46.6%. Lombardo is the Clark County Sheriff. 

Lombardo said he will “implement school choice initiatives that empower Nevada families” and “re-prioritize and re-institute pivotal educational programs like Read by Grade Three that have been proven to give students a better chance at success.” Lombardo also supports “expanding vocational training and workforce development programs” and working with the legislature to “to repeal ‘restorative justice’ measures, which have made our schools demonstrably less safe.” In 2019, the state enacted a law requiring schools to provide a “plan of action based on restorative justice before expelling a pupil.”

Lombardo also wants to evaluate “potential ballot initiatives that would allow for the break up of the Clark County School District and other school districts that are underperforming.” 

Oregon 

Gov.-elect Tina Kotek (D) defeated Christine Drazan (R) 47.1% to 43.4%. Kotek is a former state representative. Incumbent Governor Kate Brown (D) was term-limited.

Kotek said she would “improve Oregon’s graduation rates to 90% for all student groups by 2027” and ensure “all children are reading by third grade.” Kotek supports real-time assessments over standardized testing and opposes “any effort to undermine public schools by providing taxpayer dollars to private schools in the name of ‘school choice.’” She also called for all high school students to take a financial literacy and life skills course to learn skills like budgeting and resume writing.

Kotek said, “I have always supported maintaining rigorous standards for reading, writing, and math. But we don’t need to keep adding on more and more standardized testing beyond what is necessary to monitor student progress. We need to let teachers teach – and our students will benefit from more instructional time.”

Pennsylvania

Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro (D) defeated Doug Mastriano (R) 54.8% to 43.4%. Shapiro is the current state attorney general. Incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf (D) was term-limited.  

Shapiro supports “fully funding and fixing up our schools, prioritizing mental health, empowering students with vocational, technical, and computer training, and ensuring parents have a real voice in their children’s education.” Shapiro also said he will “ensure that every school building in the Commonwealth has at least one mental health counselor, and end our reliance on standardized testing so we can create more time for kids to learn and more flexibility for teachers to teach.”

Shapiro supports lifeline scholarships, a policy that would allow some students from low-performing schools to use state money on educational expenses, including private school tuition. Shapiro said, “I’m for fully funding public education. I’m for making sure we give parents the ability to put their kids in the best situation for them to be able to succeed. And I’m for making sure we add scholarships like lifeline scholarships to make sure that that’s additive to their educations.” In April, the Pennsylvania House voted 104-98 to establish the Lifeline Scholarship program. The Senate Education Committee approved the bill in June, but the full Sente has yet to act on it.

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! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from incumbent Khem Irby (D), who won the general election for Guilford County Schools school board District 6, and Robert Barr (R), who was one of four candidates who won election to Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools school board District 2 (four seats were up for election). 

Here’s how Irby answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am personally passionate about being able to provide the best possible education with the resources that are given to us. I am committed to working with and advocating along side my colleagues for a greater investment for public good of education. Our policies must show children that we want them to be successful and that we respect and support educators for being the experts in a successful educational system. Policies will show the community that we care about the future of Guilford County, safety in schools, the overall well-being of our staff, educators and students, and ending the pipeline to prison which plagues many school systems around the country. I believe that education is the responsibility of the entire village and it will be successful in this light as we continue to build relationships and invite new partners to the table to share their ideas. I see Guilford County as an up and coming model for families to build a future for success and wealth for those who have been marginalized.”

Click here to read the rest of Irby’s answers.

Here’s how Barr answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“Making sure all of our kids have the support and resources to learn. I grew up in public housing, raised by a single parent, and economically disadvantaged. However, because of the support of a guidance counselor and a program called Upward Bound that helped my mother and I navigate the educational system I was able to achieve some success. I have a Masters Degree from Wake Forest and a Bachelors Degree from Winston-Salem State University. Through education and the proper support, all children can learn. I am a big advocate of parental involvement and engagement. Parents are a crucial and critical part of children learning.”

Click here to read the rest of Barr’s answers.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #40

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over homework
  • In your district: philosophy of education
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • Campaign for initiative to allow municipalities to create school districts submits signatures in Nevada
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over homework

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Does homework help?

Geoff Johnson writes that homework is ineffective. Johnson says homework is not equitable because only some students can work in positive learning environments. He also says homework often causes students to practice problems incorrectly and can cause students to become overworked, unhealthy, and stressed.

Eva Moskowitz writes that homework can reduce educational inequity and help students understand that they don’t need an adult to help them learn. Moskovitz says homework assignments communicate to students that they should be learning outside of school and are capable of learning independently. 

Geoff Johnson: Piling homework on kids is a mistake that undermines work/life balance | Geoff Johnson, Times Columnist

“Even before I realized years ago that my students were not deriving much, if ­anything, of educational value from ­homework, I could never grade homework assignments equitably, because each ­student’s homework was being attempted in home environments that could be vastly ­different. As we discovered during the pandemic shutdowns, and the subsequent reliance on online lessons, education at home is not ­conducted on an even playing field. Some parents simply did not have space available at home to set up quiet spaces where students could focus on their work uninterrupted by the distractions common to every household. Even if that was possible, homework that was intended to facilitate practice, such as working on solutions to math ­problems or reviewing a poem or prose piece, could result in a student simply practising ­mistakes over and over again. In other words, class work being extended into a non-learning environment with no support from the teacher who assigned the work was defeating the gains accomplished in class that day. Then class time needs to be devoted to correcting individual homework mistakes before progress can be made on that day’s lesson. If work/life balance is important for adults, it’s just as important for kids from kindergarten to Grade 12.”

Why homework matters | Eva Moskowitz, The Fordham Institute

“It is important to remember that kids only spend a fraction of their time in school. The learning that does or does not take place in the many hours outside of school has a monumental effect on children’s academic success and is a root cause of educational inequity. The pandemic gave us a stark demonstration of this reality. Achievement gaps widened between affluent and low-income children not only because low-income students received less in-person or high-quality online instruction during the years of disrupted school, but also because children of college-educated and affluent parents were already less dependent on schools for learning. Affluent children are far more likely to have the privilege of tutors or other types of supplementary instruction, as well as a family culture of reading, and opportunities to travel, visit museums, and more. Homework is a powerful tool to help narrow these inequities, giving children from all backgrounds the opportunity to keep learning when they are not in school. … Homework cultivates these mindsets and habits. Indeed, when teachers don’t assign homework, it reflects an unconscious conviction that kids can’t learn without adults. Kids internalize this message and come to believe they need their teacher to gain knowledge. In reality, they are more than capable of learning all sorts of things on their own. Discovering this fact can be both incredibly exciting and deeply empowering for them.”

In your district: philosophy of education

We recently asked readers the following question:

What book or essay best reflects your philosophy of education? 

Thank you to all who responded. Today, we’re sharing a handful of those responses. If you have ideas for a question you’d like to see us ask, reply to this email to let us know!

A community member in Indiana wrote: 

“New to all this but in my limited research I like the book The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education.”

A school board member in Illinois wrote:

“Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Education.”

A school board member in New York wrote:

“Out of The Box: How Innovative Learning Models Can Transform K-12 Education.”

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 the more than 13,000 districts with elected school boards.

Louisiana school board elections on Dec. 10 

Most states held school board general elections on Nov. 8, and won’t hold elections again until 2023. In Louisiana, however, school board primaries took place on Nov. 8, and general elections will take place Dec. 10. Under Louisiana’s unique majority-vote system, all candidates running for local, state, or federal office appear on the same primary ballot regardless of their partisan affiliations. If no candidate wins a simple majority of the votes cast, the top-two finishers advance to a general election (what other states might refer to as a runoff). 

We’re covering the following elections on Dec. 10:

Campaign for initiative to allow municipalities to create school districts submits signatures in Nevada

In Nevada, a campaign supporting an initiative that would allow municipalities to opt-out of county school districts filed about 220,000 signatures for verification. If enacted, the initiative would amend state statute to allow municipalities to opt-out of a county school district to create a new community school district.

The Community Schools Initiative PAC filed the initiative. County clerks will verify the signatures. The initiative needs 140,777 valid signatures to proceed to the legislature. If the legislature approves the initiative, and the governor signs it into law, the initiative is enacted. If no action is taken in 40 days, the initiative will go before voters on the 2024 ballot. 

Republican Joe Lombardo won the Nov. 8 Nevada gubernatorial election, defeating incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak. As a result, Nevada will, in January, change from a Democratic trifecta to a divided government. Democrats control both chambers of the legislature. 

Supporters say Nevada school districts, which are mostly county-based, have become too large. On its website, the Community Schools Initiative PAC says: “Nevada school districts are currently dictated by county boundaries, not the community or population demand. This has resulted in disproportionately large school districts and our students, parents, families, and teachers have had to pay the price.”

The initiative says: “Individual municipalities or municipalities working together may, in some instances, prefer to form more appropriately-sized school districts, because communities may determine that they can better represent and serve children, parents, and families in smaller administrative units.”

Opponents say the initiative would not resolve underlying issues hampering Nevada’s education system. Clark County School District Jess Jara said: “Educating our students adequately requires an honest, reasoned, equitable, accountable, and sustainable strategy supported with optimal funding for the new pupil-centered funding formula to produce outcomes other than Nevada’s current 49th in the nation funding levels. This initiative achieves none of these.” 

The Clark County School District, which has over 300,000 students, is the largest in the state and the fifth-largest in the nation.

The number of school districts in Nevada tumbled following the passage of Assembly Bill 1 in 1956. According to University of Las Vegas Professors Magdalena Martinez and David Damore, “During a 1956 Special Session of the Nevada Legislature, 208 legally active local school districts were eliminated and consolidated into 17 county-based districts.” 

Nevada counties have until Dec. 23 to certify the submitted signatures. 

Nationally, from 2010 and 2020, the average number of statewide ballot measures in an even-numbered year was 164. 

Louisiana voters will decide the last three statewide measures of 2022 on Dec. 10.

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! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Derek Tisinger, who defeated incumbent Cynthia Brakeman in the general election for Kern High Board of Trustees Trustee Area 1, and incumbent Beverly Slough, who defeated Racheal Hand in the general election for St. Johns County School Board District 1. 

Here’s how Tisinger answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“Individual rights and personal choice. Keep politics and social agendas out of our classrooms. Children belong to their parents and not the government. I am strongly Pro Life. I believe school choice is important for holding or schools accountable in quality education for our children, and also empower our under served communities.”

Click here to read the rest of Tisinger’s answers.

Here’s how Slough answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“Providing an excellent education to every student in our county is the focus of my service and candidacy.

Recruiting and retaining the most qualified teachers possible to accomplish this goal is a major focus.

Safety and security of our students is always top of mind.”

Click here to read the rest of Slough’s answers.

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey. 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!



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #39

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over cell phones in classrooms
  • In your district: philosophy of education 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • Seven states held elections for superintendent of schools
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over cell phones in classrooms

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Student cell phone policies in schools vary across the country. In states like California, Maine, and Virginia, districts have banned most student cell phone use during class. 

Erica Berry writes that schools should try to teach students how to use their cell phones effectively and self-regulate their cell phone use. Berry says teaching such skills will better equip students for the adult world than a blanket cell phone ban.

Steve Koppman writes that cell phones reduce concentration and impede students’ abilities to learn. Koppman says banning cell phone use in schools will help students learn how to function without digital media, and practice direct in-person communication.

Banning Phones in Class? Not So Fast | Erica Berry, Wired

“[T]he case for eliminating devices to create safe learning spaces can seem like a no-brainer. But if we’re trying to prepare students for the messy, wider world, administrators need to put less energy into figuring out how to implement bans, and more into helping teenagers learn how to foster balance and focus while surrounded by the siren call of their devices. Popular discourse holds students responsible for their tech addictions, and if not them, then their parents and teachers for failing to enforce better rules. But these are systemic problems, and they demand systemic solutions. It’s time to shift our collective gaze of accountability outward—not with a one-size-fits-all device ban, but with a renewed investment in digital literacy, ethics, and well-being. … A full-out device ban suggests the cat can be put back in the bag, but to imagine a future of unmonitored adulthood for my high schoolers is to realize that I’d do them a bigger favor by teaching them ways to train the cat. … Students should enter the adult world understanding not only how their devices are addictive but their own addictive tendencies.”

Opinion: Why we should ban kids’ smartphone use in school | Steve Koppman, Mercury News

“We have enough research data to know young people’s development benefits from time away from an all-consuming internet, which absorbs attention and obstructs learning. Smartphones impede students’ concentration and engagement with people in their presence — arguably schools’ key purposes. … Learning to get along without digital media, to depend directly on themselves and each other without electronic distraction several uninterrupted hours a day, could be the most important training we can give our young people before sending them into an uncharted and potentially uncontrollable technological future. Banning smartphones in schools is NOT a Luddite plot to outlaw the devices or quash technology but a way to immerse young students, for a big chunk of their early lives, in the world of direct communication and physical reality. To benefit from what is inarguably great about technology — potentials to improve health, increase longevity and alleviate disability, for example — we need some control over it, including: Stop letting it bring up our kids.”

In your district: philosophy of education

School districts around the country face diverse issues and challenges. We want to hear what’s happening in your school district. Complete the very brief survey below—anonymously, if you prefer—and we may share your response with fellow subscribers in an upcoming newsletter.

Today’s question:

What book or essay best reflects your philosophy of education? 

Click here to respond!

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 the more than 13,000 districts with elected school boards.

Louisiana school board elections on Dec. 10 in Louisiana 

Most states held school board general elections on Nov. 8, and won’t hold elections again until 2023. In Louisiana, however, school board primaries took place on Nov. 8, and general elections will take place Dec. 10. Under Louisiana’s unique majority-vote system, all candidates running for local, state, or federal office appear on the same primary ballot regardless of their partisan affiliations. If no candidate wins a simple majority of the votes cast, the top-two finishers advance to a general election (what other states might refer to as a runoff). 

We’re covering the following elections on Dec. 10:

Seven states held elections for superintendent of schools

School board seats weren’t the only education-related offices up for election on Nov. 8. In seven states—Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming—voters selected a state superintendent of schools. 

The elections for superintendent tended to reflect broader debates over race and gender in the curriculum, as well as disagreements over the role of vouchers in public education. According to Politico’s Juan Perez Jr., “These once obscure jobs that supervise bread-and-butter concerns about academic testing and teacher certification — in tandem with legislatures and school boards — have now attracted attention from big-spending political groups and some of the most prominent names in GOP politics, including former President Donald Trump.” State and national teachers union organizations backed state superintendent candidates in several races. 

Arizona: Thomas C.Horne (R) defeated incumbent Kathy Hoffman (D). Patrick Finerd (R) ran as a write-in candidate. Horne served as the Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2003 to 2011. From 2011 to 2015, he served as the state attorney general. Hoffman, who was first elected in 2018, is a former pre-school teacher and speech-language pathologist. She was the first Democrat to become superintendent of public instruction in the state since 1995. Horne said he was waging a “war against ethnic studies and critical race theory.” He campaigned on promoting patriotism and quality education. Hoffman campaigned on policies to mitigate pandemic-related learning loss, like addressing student mental health needs and equipping rural schools with better technology. 

California: Incumbent Tony Thurmond defeated Lance Christensen. The California superintendent of public instruction is a nonpartisan office. Christensen completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Thurmond, who was first elated in 2018, served as a Democrat in the California Assembly from 2014 to 2018. Christensen worked for 15 years in the California Assembly in various positions and as the vice president of education policy & government affairs at the California Policy Center, a conservative and libertarian think tank.

Georgia: Incumbent Richard Woods (R) defeated Alisha Searcy (D). Woods, first elected in 2014, worked as a social studies teacher and held various school administrative positions. Searcy was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 2003 to 2015. Searcy completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey.

Idaho: Debbie Critchfield (R) defeated Terry Gilbert (D). Both Critchfield and Gilbert completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Critchfield worked as the information officer for the Cassia County School District, while Gilbert worked as an educator. Critchfield defeated Incumbent Sherri Ybarra (R) in the Republican primary. 

Oklahoma: Ryan Walters (R) defeated Jena Nelson (D). Walters taught high school. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed him Secretary of Public Education in 2020. Nelson is a 6th and 7th grade English teacher. Walters and Nelson disagreed on critical race theory, school funding, and the use of taxpayer dollars to cover private school tuition.  

South Carolina: Ellen Weaver (R) defeated Lisa Ellis (D) and Patricia Mickel (Green Party). Weaver and Ellis completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Weaver worked for then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R) and the Palmetto Promise Institute, a think tank. Ellis worked as an educator. The use of taxpayer dollars to allow students to attend private schools or defray educational expenses was a defining issue in the race. In her Candidate Connection survey response, Weaver said, “It’s time to expand education choices. Whether it’s traditional public, public charter or magnet, private, home school, or any of the growing array of high-quality hybrid options, we must ensure that parents of every income level can choose the right environment to support the safety, well-being, values, and unique educational needs of their child.” Ellis said, “I think that the move consistently into trying to privatize education, trying to move public money to private entities completely gets away from the purpose of educating a civilized society.” 

Wyoming: Megan Degenfelder (R) defeated Sergio Maldonado (D). Degenfelder worked in the Wyoming Department of Education. Maldonado has worked as an educator, college administrator, and school board member. 

The superintendent of schools—sometimes known as the superintendent of education, superintendent of public instruction, secretary of education, or chief school administrator—is the principal executive officer overseeing the state department of education. The superintendent oversees the state’s elementary and secondary schools. The superintendent also represents the department of education before the governor and legislature. The first state superintendent was appointed in New York in 1812, and the office now exists in all 50 states. 

In 38 states, the superintendent is appointed. In 12 states, the superintended is elected. In 18 states, the board of education appoints a superintendent, while in 18 states the governor does so. The Board of Regents in two states appoints the superintendent.

In eight of the 12 states that elect a superintendent, candidates run in partisan elections. Currently, two of the eight partisan-affiliated superintendents are Democrats (New Mexico and Oklahoma) and six are Republicans (Georgia, Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming). In January in Oklahoma, Ryan Walters (R) will replace outgoing Superintendent Joy Hofmeister (D), who unsuccessfully ran for governor. Hofmeister switched her party registration from Republican to Democrat when she announced her candidacy. Oklahoma is the only state in which the party affiliation of the state superintendent will change a result of the 2022 elections. 


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! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Andrew Gonzales, who defeated incumbent Geronimo Rodriguez Jr. in the general election for Austin Independent School District District 6, and Crissy Pratt (R), who defeated Amanda Cook (D) in the general election for Guilford County Schools school board District 2. 

Here’s how Gonzales answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?


“Prioritizing the mental health of students and teachers and ensuring available and accessible support is one of my biggest priorities. Academic outcomes correlate directly to mental health. Our district must have an inclusive model of education, focusing on improving experiences and outcomes for ALL students–specifically Special Education, multilingual, and economically disadvantaged students.

The teacher shortage is another critical issue. Our teachers are woefully underpaid, devalued, micromanaged, and mistrusted. Until we provide relevant professional development, accountability for administrators, and adequate compensation, we will continue to experience staff shortages. I will exhaust every avenue to keep our staff appropriately supported and our schools well-resourced and open.”

Click here to read the rest of Gonzales’ answers. 

Here’s how Pratt answered the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am passionate about educating students. It has been my life’s work, in every job that I have held. I believe in allowing every student to reach their full potential and to grow and learn. However, I am very concerned by what appears to be a lowered bar of standards in GCS. Our test scores have been trending downward for years, even pre-Covid. We have allowed distractions to take the focus away from what school is all about – education. We need to refocus our priorities and ensure that every single action that the Board takes is focused on providing our students with the best possible education.”

Click here to read the rest of Pratt’s answers

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey. 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!



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #38

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over government-funded school lunches 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • The seven education-related ballot measures voters decided on Nov. 8
  • Conflict election results (updated)
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over government-funded school lunches

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Colorado passed a ballot measure—discussed in our review of education-related measures below—on Nov. 8 to expand government-funded lunches to all public school students. President Joe Biden (D) also proposed expanding funding for school lunches in his National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on Sept. 28.

Baylen Linnekin writes that children from poorer families already receive discounted or free school meals. He says expanding government-funded school meals would not reduce food insecurity because it would mainly offer food to children from wealthier families. Linnekin also says the National School Lunch Program provides substandard food that even food insecure children will throw out, wasting money and food.

William Lambers writes that expanding the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs to make school lunches free for all children would reduce food insecurity and help families. Lambers says universal school lunches would save governments time and money that are spent determining which children are eligible for free or discounted school meals and prevent low-income students from falling through cracks in the bureaucratic eligibility determination process.

There’s No Good Reason To Expand Government-Funded School Lunches | Baylen Linnekin, Reason

“During most of the Covid pandemic, the USDA made universal free lunches available to public school systems around the country. Even after that lapsed, many if not most kids in Colorado (and every other state) whose families can’t afford to provide them with lunches or lunch money were already eligible to receive free- or reduced-price school lunches under the federal government’s National School Lunch Program. … I have difficulty understanding how giving free food to kids whose parents are millionaires helps students facing real food insecurity. And I’m not alone. Earlier this year, a longtime school lunchroom worker in Michigan called universal school meals “a ‘waste’ because, too often, students whose parents could afford to pay for their meals would throw it in the trash.” But even hungry kids toss their government-funded school lunches in the rubbish bin. … Indeed, the National School Lunch Program is a disaster. It wastes untold quantities of money and food.”

William Lambers: We need to be passionate about free school meals | William Lambers, The Hartford Courant

“We need to be passionate about free school meals for every child, instead of just accepting the status quo of underfunded and incomplete school meal programs. … At home in America we should make the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs free to all children. This would eliminate the costly and time consuming administrative work of determining who is eligible for the free or reduced price meals. Providing free meals to all would prevent any needy children potentially falling through the crack of bureaucracy and not receiving meals. Providing free meals for all school children would give America’s families a big boost. We give corporations plenty of perks, why not families too. … If every child were to receive free meals, we would improve the health of the country and reduce poverty.”

The seven education-related ballot measures voters decided on Nov. 8

Education was on the ballot in seven states on Nov. 8, with voters deciding measures related to college tuition, school meals, legislative oversight of state board rules, and more. In September, we previewed those seven education-related ballot measures. Here’s how each of those measures fared. 

Voters approved measures in six states and rejected one in West Virginia. There were a total of 132 statewide measures on the ballot on Nov. 8.

All results below are unofficial.

New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 1, Land Grant Permanent Fund Distribution for Early Childhood Education Amendment

Voters approved this amendment 70.35% to 29.66%.

Constitutional Amendment 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would increase the disbursements from New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund for education from 5% to 6.25%. Forty percent of the increase goes to public education, while 60% goes to a new spending category—early childhood education.

Congress will need to approve part of the amendment because federal law established the fund but did not include early childhood education as a spending category. U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) introduced bills in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, respectively, in December 2021 to release the funds. Heinrich’s bill passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is awaiting action before the Senate. 

According to Source New Mexico’s Shaun Griswold, “The fund is derived from 13 million acres of land grants from the United States under the Ferguson Act of 1898 and the Enabling Act of 1910. Revenue on these lands from sources like mineral exploration and from oil and gas industries — booming industries in New Mexico — are placed in a permanent endowment that is then invested by the State Investment Council.”

Supporters said the fund allows New Mexico to increase education funding without raising taxes. Opponents said the amendment would decrease the fund’s value and lower future returns, resulting in reduced future education funding.   

Arizona Proposition 308, In-State Tuition for Non-Citizen Residents Measure 

Voters approved this proposition 51.23% to 48.77%. 

Proposition 308 is a legislatively referred state statute that allows non-citizen students, except those considered to be nonresident aliens under federal law, to receive in-state college tuition under certain conditions. Under the law, non-citizen students can receive in-state college when a student (a) attended school in Arizona for at least two years and (b) graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona. Proposition 308 repeals provisions of Proposition 300, which voters approved in 2006. Proposition 300 said non-citizens could not receive certain state-subsidized services, benefits, or financial aid or in-state tuition rates.

Supporters of the measure said non-citizen students who were brought to America as children shouldn’t be punished for circumstances outside of their control and allowing them to receive in-state tuition would help Arizona retain talent. Opponents said the measure would increase costs for taxpayers and provide an unearned benefit to non-citizens.   

Massachusetts Question 1, Tax on Income Above $1 Million for Education and Transportation Amendment 

Voters approved Question 1—52.02% to 47.98%.

Question 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment. Question 1 creates an additional 4% tax on income above $1 million to fund public education, roads and bridges, and public transportation. The tax is in addition to the state’s 5% flat income tax, for a total tax rate of 9% on income above $1 million. 

Supporters said the additional tax revenue will fund investments in public education and transportation that will benefit all residents, especially low-income communities. Opponents said the tax will encourage wealthy individuals and families to leave Massachusetts, leaving the state with less revenue and fewer jobs.  

West Virginia Amendment 4, Legislative Approval of the State Board of Education Rules Amendment

Voters rejected this amendment 57.86% to 42.14%.

This legislatively referred constitutional amendment would have required the State Board of Education to submit its rules or policies to the Legislature for approval, amendment, or rejection. The State Board of Education is a nine-member board with nine-year terms. The governor appoints board members and the Senate confirms them.

Supporters said the amendment would increase accountability, allowing legislators, who answer to voters, to have a say in the education rules and policies that affect taxpayers. Opponents said the amendment would further politicize education and lead to instability, since legislators are up for election every two years.

Colorado Reduce Income Tax Deduction Amounts to Fund School Meals Program Measure

Voters approved this measure 56.75% to 43.25%.

This legislatively referred state statute will reduce income tax deduction amounts for those earning $300,000 or more from $30,000 for single filers and $60,000 for joint filers to $12,000 for single filers and $16,000 for joint filers. The measure also creates and funds the Healthy School Meals for All Program to provide free school meals to all Colorado public school students, provide local food purchasing grants, and increase wages for employees who prepare and serve food.

Supporters said all children, regardless of family income, should have access to nutritional food. Opponents said taxpayers should not pay for meals for kids from affluent families.  

California Proposition 28, Art and Music K-12 Education Funding Initiative

Voters approved this initiative 64.45% to 35.55%.

This initiated state statute requires a minimum source of annual funding for arts education programs for K-12 public and charter schools. The annual minimum amount will be equal to at least 1% of the total state and local revenues that local education agencies received under 1988’s Proposition 98 during the previous fiscal year. 

Supporters said many schools lack dedicated arts and music teachers and programs and that such programs are important for students seeking jobs in entertainment and technology. Opponents said the initiative would divert funding from other academic areas. 

Idaho Income and Corporate Tax Changes and Education Funding Advisory Question

This was a non-binding question, meaning the outcome did not result in a new, changed, repealed, or rejected law or constitutional amendment. Voters approved the advisory question 79.86% to 20.14%. The advisory question is a provision of House Bill 1 (HB1). In September, during a special session, the Idaho Legislature passed HB1, creating a flat rate tax on income and corporate tax rate and allocating $410 million of the state’s sales tax revenue annually to the public school income fund. HB1 is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 3, 2023. The advisory question allowed voters to indicate their support or opposition to the tax changes and education funding enacted by the state legislature.

Click here to read more about education-related ballot measures.

Conflict election results (updated)

Last week, we brought you an update on the 1,800 Nov. 8 races we tracked in 561 school districts across 26 states where candidates took a stance on at least one of three topics—race in education, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and sex and gender in schools.

We’ve been researching the winning candidates’ stances on those areas. We’ve now completed research on 1,454, or 81%, of the 1,800 winning candidates. Here’s an update on the results:

In the June 1, 2022, edition of this newsletter, we looked at conflict election results in the April 5 school board primaries in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. We also previously published an analysis of elections on Nov. 2, 2021. Those results are below:

You can learn more about our project tracking conflict elections here.

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! 


Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Many school districts in Louisiana will hold runoff/general elections on Dec. 10. In Louisiana, all candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Today, we’re featuring survey responses from two candidates from the Pelican State. 

Incumbent Michael Gaudet (R) and Cathy Carmichael (D) are on the ballot in the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 7 general election. Carmichael completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. 

Michael Pedalino (R) and Lauren Jewett (D) are on the ballot in the Jefferson Parish School Board District 6 general election. Jewett completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. 

Here’s how Carmichael responded to the question, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

  • “Represent students, not special interests.
  • Value our teachers and staff.
  • Hold the superintendent accountable for his actions.”

Click here to read the rest of Carmichael’s responses. 

Here’s an excerpt from Jewett’s response to the question, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

“Mental Health of Students, Teachers, and School Staff: Student achievement and learning progress are big priorities, but they must be addressed alongside the mental and emotional health of students and teachers. Our students and educators have continued to push through extraordinary and uncertain circumstances both with COVID and Hurricane Ida as well as witness events in our constantly evolving world. I will advocate for proper and adequate resources such as more wrap-around supports and social workers/guidance counselors so that our schools can address and respond to trauma and facilitate ongoing healing.”

Click here to read the rest of Jewett’s responses. 

If there is a school board election in your community, you can share the link with candidates and urge them to take the survey!



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #37

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over declining National Assessment of Educational Progress scores 
  • Conflict election results: a preliminary review 
  • School board battleground election results
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over declining National Assessment of Educational Progress scores 

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

On Oct. 24, the National Center for Education Statistics released scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The assessment, which is congressionally mandated, is often referred to as the Nation’s Report Card. The assessment documented a decline in both reading and math scores among fourth and eighth graders in most states. The national reading proficiency average came in at 31% for eighth graders and 33% for fourth graders. In math, 36% of fourth graders and 26% of eighth graders had proficient scores. All of the national scores were down from the previous report in 2019.

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) writes that school closures because of COVID-19 caused many students, especially lower-income students and students of color, to fall behind academically between 2019 and 2022. Banks says teacher’s unions continued lobbying for school closures even after the CDC released guidance on remote learning risks. He also says the Biden administration, other Democrats, and teacher’s unions need to be held accountable for learning loss before progress will be possible.

The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board writes that the COVID pandemic disrupted learning and caused some predictable learning losses, but says underinvestment in schools also contributed to declining NAEP scores. The Editorial Board says the NAEP data suggests schools need more resources to provide extended instruction time and offer tutoring programs for struggling students. The Editorial Board also says California, which kept schools closed longer than most states, experienced smaller NAEP declines than the national average.

Blame Democrats and union bosses for failing school report card | Jim Banks, Fox News

“We know how we got here: Students in public K-12 schools in the United States have had to learn remotely in some form or another for nearly three years. Forcing kids to sit at home in front of a computer screen has been disastrous because kids and teens require the ability to watch, listen, explore, experiment and ask questions in order to learn. This requires their physical presence in classroom with a teacher, surrounded by peers. For those of us who were sounding the alarm from the beginning about remote learning, these results, while not surprising, are no less alarming. The CDC, long an avid proponent of forcing insane COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on Americans even when they’d been proven ineffective, to their credit admitted last spring “[virtual learning] might present more risks than in-person instruction related to child and parental mental and emotional health and some health-supporting behaviors.”  … Powerful teachers’ unions like the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) continued lobbying the Biden administration and Democrats to keep remote learning in place. In blue cities like Chicago, New York and Milwaukee for example, union efforts to keep remote learning in place were particularly forceful.”

Learning loss is bad everywhere, and demands immediate action | The Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times

“The results are hardly surprising given the unprecedented disruption in schooling caused by the pandemic, but they offer concrete proof that K-12 students need more focused attention and resources in the form of tutoring or extended instruction time, depending on specific circumstances. More than just a snapshot in time of how students are faring, the results offer clues for educators, policymakers and parents of how we can better help students. The larger declines in math could mean that students need more support, perhaps one-on-one tutoring or more teacher instruction. … U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said the poor performance isn’t just the result of school closures during the pandemic but also a reflection of “decades of underinvestment in our students.” … It’s clear that a multi-pronged approach to boosting student performance will be necessary, but state and local educators and policymakers should ensure that decisions about how to allocate resources are driven by data and other evidence. … The data released this week show the urgency of remediating the learning loss exacerbated by the pandemic. Now that educators have the funds and the data to help guide them, they should use that money wisely. Our children’s future depends on it.”

Conflict election results: a preliminary review

We identified 1,800 Nov. 8 races in 561 school districts across 26 states where candidates took a stance on at least one of three topics—race in education, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and sex and gender in schools

You can learn more about our project tracking conflict elections here.

We are currently researching the winning candidates’ stances on the three conflict topics using media reporting, campaign websites, debates, and more. For each of the three conflict issues, winning candidates are labeled either supporting or opposing (you can learn more about our label descriptions here). If no stance can be determined, they are labeled unclear. 

We have completed our research on 1,081, or 60%, of the 1,800 winning candidates.

The results are as follows:

In the June 1, 2022, edition of this newsletter, we looked at conflict election results in the April 5 school board primaries in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. We also previously published an analysis of elections on Nov. 2, 2021. The results are below:

We’ll bring you more updates on school board conflict election results when we have final numbers. 

School board battleground election results

Most school board elections are officially nonpartisan. But in races across the country, organizations and individuals with partisan ties endorsed, trained, and funded candidates in the Nov. 8 general elections. In the Oct. 19, Oct. 26, and Nov. 2 editions of this newsletter, we previewed battleground elections in nine districts in California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, and Kentucky. 

Results from the elections are not certified, and some races remain too close to call. All of the following races appeared on our list of conflict elections. 

Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky

Four of the board’s seven seats were up for election—Districts, 1, 3, 5, and 6. Incumbents in all four districts—Diane Porter (District 1), James Craig (District 3), Linda Duncan (District 5), and Corrie Shull (District 6)—won re-election. Better Schools Kentucky PAC, an arm of the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA), endorsed the incumbents. The Jefferson County Republican Party endorsed challengers in all four races. 

The incumbents’ victories mean the board’s partisan makeup will remain unchanged. 

Frederick County Public Schools, Maryland

Four out of the district’s seven at-large seats were up for election. The seven candidates divided themselves into two slates—the Students First Slate and the Education Not Indoctrination (ENI) slate. The Students First Slate consisted of incumbent Karen Yoho, Ysela Bravo, Rae Gallagher, and Dean Rose. The ENI slate consisted of Olivia Angolia, Nancy Allen, and Cindy Rose.  The Students First Slate said it was committed to “Safe, welcoming schools for all,” a “Diverse, well-trained staff,” and “Family & community involvement.” The ENI slate said it was running to “ensure that feelings don’t define truth, that academically-sound curricula are adopted, that decision-making is transparent, and that parents are respected.”

As of this writing, the election is too close to call. The latest results show the following:

  • Allen (ENI): 15.2% 
  • Yoho (Students First): 14.89%
  • Gallagher (Students First): 14.82%
  • Dean Rose (Students First): 14.43%
  • Cindy Rose (ENI): 13.93%
  • Angolia (ENI): 12.93%
  • Bravo (Students First): 12.89%

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina

Six of the nine seats were up for election, and we included the races for Districts 1 and 4 on our battleground list. 

In the District 1 race, Melissa Easley defeated incumbent Rhonda Cheek, and challengers Ro Lawsin, Bill Fountain, and Hamani Fisher. Easley completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click here to read her responses. 

Cheek is a registered Republican, while Easley is a registered Democrat. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators (CMAE), the county’s largest teacher organization, endorsed Cheek and Easley. The African American Caucus also endorsed Easely.

In the District 4 race, Stephanie Sneed defeated incumbent Carol Sawyer and challengers Clara Kennedy Witherspoon. Sneed completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click here to read her responses. 

Round Rock Independent School District, Texas

Four seats were up for general election and one seat was up for a special election. All five incumbents ran for re-election. 

All three of the candidates the Round Rock Democrats Club endorsed won their races—Estevan Zarate (Place 1; special election), Alicia Markum (Place 4), and incumbent Tiffanie Harrison (Place 6). All five candidates the Republican Party of Texas and the 1776 Project Pac endorsed lost—John Keagy (Place 1; special election), Orlando Salinas (Place 3), Jill Farris (Place 4), Christie Slape (Place 5), and Don Zimmerman (Place 6). The Republican Party of Texas-backed candidates had run as a slate. 

Leander Independent School District, Texas

Five of seven seats—Places 1,2, 5, 6, and 7—were up for election. Incumbents Trish Bode (Place 1), Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia (Place 2), and Sade Fashokun (Place 5) won re-election. Fashokun completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey. Click here to read her responses. Francesca Romans won in Place 6 (the incumbent did not file for re-election). Paul Gauthier won in Place 7, defeating incumbent Elexis Grimes and Joseph Gorordo. Gauthier was one of four candidates who ran on removing books they said were inappropriate in schools, and he was the only one of them to win election. 

Polk County Public Schools, Florida

Four seats were up for election, and we included the race for District 7 on our list of battlegrounds. 

Incumbent Lisa Bone Miller defeated Jill Sessions. 

Seminole County Public Schools, Florida

Three of five seats were up for election. Incumbent Kristine Kruas won her election for District 1 outright in the Aug. 23 primaries. 

In District 2, Kelley Davis defeated Sean Cooper. In District 5, Autumn Garick defeated Dana Fernandez. Both Garick and Fernandez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, and we featured both candidates in the Sept. 14 edition of this newsletter. 

Brevard Public Schools, Florida

Three seats were up for election, but the races for Districts 1 and 5 were won outright in the Aug. 23 primaries. 

In the District 2 race, Gene Trent defeated Erin Dunne. The Brevard Republican Executive Committee had endorsed Trent, while the Brevard Democratic Party had endorsed Dunne. 

 San Diego Unified School District, California

Two seats were up for election, and we included the race for District C on our list of battlegrounds. 

Cody Petterson and Becca Williams ran in the election for District C. Although the race has not been called, as of this writing Petterson leads Williams 56.09% to 43.91%. The San Diego Education Association endorsed Petterson, while the Community Leadership Coalition backed Williams. 

Both Petterson and Williams completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. 

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! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

So far in 2022, 375 school board candidates in 232 districts completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Throughout the year, we’ve featured many of these responses in this newsletter, giving you a look at the issues animating candidates and the themes around which these local elections have revolved. 

School board elections aren’t over for the year. Many districts in Louisiana will hold runoffs on Dec. 10

Today, we’re highlighting survey responses from two candidates who won in the Nov. 8 general elections. Justin Cook defeated Rae Parker in the general election for Rochester Public Schools Seat 2 in Minnesota. Adaline Villneurve Rutherford (R) defeated Rebecca Stogner in the election for St. Tammany Parish School Board District 3 in Louisiana. 

Here’s how Cook responded to the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

“I am passionate about public education generally. I see public education as the single best way to harness the latent potential of a community, and help it become the best version of its future self. Public education should certainly provide a robust instruction in the essential academic subjects, and I will insist on that. But an excellent public education should also allow for liberal exploration of diverse topics. The point is to provide an idea environment conducive to success by giving students opportunities to identify and pursue their passions. Once we get that part right – connecting students with their passions and giving them the support necessary to pursue them – then our community will benefit immensely with a far more robust, resilient, and diverse economy and through the contributions to civics and the arts that those students will provide.”

Click here to read the rest of Cook’s answers. 

Here’s how Rutherford responded to the question, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

  • “Our children deserve better! We need to get back to being the best! At one time the St. Tammany Parish School System was TOP, but now we are ranked 18th. Clearly, we are not utilizing our supportive community resources to maximize our teachers’ potential. I want to see CHANGE!
  • We need to address teacher and substitute shortages. We need to work harder to retain our teachers. We also need to quickly do background checks and get people signed up to substitute. We can’t have this continue the way it is.
  • Accountability and transparency are key. My priorities would be to hold the school board accountable fiscally, to be an accessible voice for my constituents and district employees, and move forward in a positive direction.”

Click here to read the rest of Rutherford’s answers.