Tagschool board

Ohio school board passes resolution opposing state’s gender identity policy

The Toledo Public School District (TPS) in Ohio voted unanimously to pass a resolution on October 10, 2022, that rejects the Ohio State Board of Education’s (SBOE) resolution on gender identity policies in public schools. 

SBOE member Brendan Shea introduced the SBOE’s resolution on September 20, 2022, in opposition to the Biden administration’s (D) guidance aiming to expand Title IX’s discrimination protections to include gender identity and sexual orientation. Titled Resolution To Support Parents, Schools, And Districts In Rejecting Harmful, Coercive, And Burdensome Gender Identity Policies, the SBOE’s resolution includes the following provisions:

  1. Ask Ohio lawmakers to assist districts that resist Title IX changes with stopgap funding
  2. Require schools to notify parents if a student is questioning gender identity
  3. Support lawsuits against the Department of Agriculture that require schools to accept Title IX changes in order to get federal nutritional assistance
  4. Ask the state superintendent to issue a letter to all public schools directing them to view the proposed Title IX changes as unenforceable

When introducing the resolution last month, Shea stated, “It’s my sincere hope that the state Board of Education will pass this resolution to oppose the radical, and I would argue illegal, changes to Title IX.” The Ohio SBOE voted 12-7 on October 13, 2022, to send the measure to the executive committee, which has signaled that it will table the issue, according to local news outlet WHIO.

The TPS board members voted to reject the SBOE proposal. TPS Board Member Chris Varwig said, “We’re about student-centered decision-making. Whether that is curriculum, athletics, art. We’re going to focus on what matters to students and families and provide equitable education for all students.”

Additional reading:



Richmond school board passes transgender protection resolution in response to Virginia Department of Education’s transgender student policy

The Richmond City School Board, which oversees Richmond Public Schools (RPS) in Richmond, Virginia, voted 8-1 on October 2, 2022, to approve a resolution rejecting the Virginia Department of Education’s policy on transgender students. The policy, titled 2022 Model Policies On The Privacy, Dignity, And Respect For All Students And Parents In Virginia’s Public Schools, mandated the following approaches to transgender students in the state’s public schools:

  • Transgender students must use the bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their assigned sex at birth
  • The legal name and sex of a student cannot be changed unless official legal documentation or a court order is presented
  • Teachers and school officials must refer to a student by the pronouns associated with their sex at birth
  • Teachers are not required to use a student’s preferred name if they believe doing so would violate their constitutionally protected rights

The resolution, RPS Transgender Student Protection Resolution, formally rejects the new policies on transgender students put forth by Republican Gov. GlennYoungkin’s administration and affirms what the board views as its “commitment to providing protections for all students regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

The Virginia Department of Education stated in its description of its guidance that the policy aims to establish “the rights of parents to determine how their children will be raised and educated.”

Additional reading:



Texas State Board of Education approves changes to social studies curriculum

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) on September 26, 2022, voted 8-5 to approve changes to public education curriculum guidelines that aim to align with the requirements set forth in Senate Bill 3 (SB 3) concerning instruction about race in social studies curriculum. 

Texas lawmakers passed SB 3 during a 2021 special session following the prior passage of House Bill 3979 (HB 3979), which Governor Greg Abbott (R) described as “a strong move to abolish critical race theory in Texas, but more must be done.” SB 3, signed into law by Governor Abbott on June 8, 2021, does not reference the term critical race theory but prohibits instruction stating that an individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, among other provisions. 

The law directed the SBOE to align the K-12 Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—the state’s required curriculum and education content standards—with the new requirements. The SBOE in August failed to overhaul the full TEKS and instead sought to revise the existing curriculum standards. These revisions included the addition of civics lessons to the social studies standards on ”understanding the founding documents, civic engagement, and an appreciation of the United States and its form of government,” according to a statement from SBOE Chairman Dr. Keven Ellis. 

During a September 26 meeting, SBOE member Rebecca Bell-Metereau (D) discussed what she views as confusion in the education community regarding the language of the law and the stated goal of some lawmakers, including Governor Greg Abbott, to eliminate critical race theory instruction in classrooms. “People have talked about critical race theory without understanding what it is. The definition has become that this is teaching children to not like each other on the basis of race, which is not a correct definition of critical race theory,” said Bell-Metereau.

Pat Hardy (R), a board member from Fort Worth, emphasized that these revisions aim to provide better guidance on how to teach civics education. She said, “We’re working right now mainly on skills – specific skills – how to balance things, fact and opinion, that sort of stuff.”

Additional links:

https://ballotpedia.org/Texas_State_Board_of_Education

https://ballotpedia.org/Greg_Abbott

https://ballotpedia.org/Texas_State_Board_of_Education

https://ballotpedia.org/Areas_of_inquiry_and_disagreement_related_to_critical_race_theory_(CRT) https://ballotpedia.org/Use_of_the_term_critical_race_theory_(CRT)

Reference links:

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2022/09/26/texas-approves-social-studies-tweaks-to-comply-with-anti-critical-race-theory-law/

https://thetexan.news/state-board-of-education-votes-to-amend-social-studies-curricula-to-comply-with-critical-race-theory-ban/

https://www.cbsnews.com/dfw/news/texas-state-board-of-education-votes-on-changes-to-social-studies-curriculum/

https://tea.texas.gov/about-tea/news-and-multimedia/correspondence/taa-letters/senate-bill-3-87th-texas-legislature-second-called-session-update-to-instructional-requirements-and-prohibitions

https://legiscan.com/TX/bill/SB3/2021



Hillsborough Board of Education votes to approve K-12 social studies curriculum revisions

The Hillsborough Board of Education in New Jersey voted on September 19, 2022, to approve a revised K-12 social studies curriculum. Board members announced they would delay voting on the curriculum until October, but decided to vote to pass the curriculum after hearing public comments from educators and parents. The revisions include a variety of changes including civics standards and new diverse resources for instruction.    

Some board members, such as John Oliver, argued that the vote should have been delayed to address concerns regarding certain content in the curriculum guides. Oliver said, “There are a couple of topics that I found on there to be a little bit controversial, a little bit offensive. I don’t have… I haven’t had a chance to really go through it and look at it but my point is to hold this off to give the public a little more chance to review this and give them an opportunity to weigh in as well,” according to Patch. 

During the period for public comments, educators argued that the curriculum outlines in question adhered to state standards and are meant to be used as guides for teachers. Dr. Kim Feltre, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said, “A board will never see individual worksheets because that’s not what… that’s up to the teachers. The teachers take the guide and they turn it into what goes on in the classroom and that’s where they are the professionals,” according to Patch. 

The Hillsborough Board of Education is responsible for establishing curriculum guides for teachers to use to develop instructional materials that adhere to state standards. The K-12 social studies curriculum guides can be found on the Hillsborough Township Public Schools website.  

Additional reading:

https://ballotpedia.org/K-12_education_content_standards_in_the_states

https://ballotpedia.org/Responses_to_trends_in_curriculum_development



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

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

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

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

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

Additional reading:



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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional reading:



California School Boards Association will not renew National School Boards Association membership

California School Boards Association (CSBA) president Susan Heredia announced in a letter to CSBA members that the organization will not be renewing its membership in the National School Boards Association (NSBA) at the end of the current membership period. At a board meeting on March 26, the CSBA board of directors voted not to renew membership for the period beginning July 1, 2022.

According to Heredia, the board’s recent vote was “not the first time CSBA questioned whether California’s interests were being properly represented by NSBA,” for reasons she said included “CSBA’s inequitable representation in NSBA’s governance structure and the organization’s lack of support for policy issues of importance to California.” Heredia also said, “As a result [of 21 other state school boards associations leaving the NSBA], the organization’s future is in doubt and its present situation does not offer sufficient value to justify continued membership.”

The 21 state school boards associations mentioned by Heredia terminated their NSBA membership or suspended participation in the national association between Oct. 2021 and Feb. 2022. These actions followed a Sept. 2021 letter from the NSBA to Pres. Joe Biden (D) regarding what it described as “threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members, and other public school district officials and educators.” The NSBA later apologized for sending the letter.

While some state associations are in the process of forming a new organization called the Consortium of State School Boards Associations, Heredia said the CSBA board has chosen not to participate in any other organization and that the association “has been steadily increasing its presence in D.C. to compensate for the growing ineffectiveness of NSBA and allow for more robust and more direct advocacy on federal matters.”



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #5

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: School discipline policies 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • Primary preview: Nebraska’s State Board of Education May 10 primaries
  • Candidate Connection survey

On the issues

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

The debate over school discipline policies

In recent years, debate has taken place among school board members, scholars, and advocacy groups about school discipline policies.

Below, Heather Cunningham, an Assistant Professor of Education at Chatham University, writes that schools should move away from systems of discipline that tend to punish students for mistakes. Cunningham says systems that often suspend or expel students for misbehavior are systemically racist. She says new systems of discipline should pull students closer to helpful resources instead of pushing them out of schools.

Max Eden, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes that more attention should be paid to student experiences under less-punitive discipline systems. Eden says less-punitive discipline systems in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, did not reduce student arrests and contributed to lower math achievement in middle schools and predominantly Black schools. 

Restorative Discipline: Classroom Management for Equity and Justice | Heather Cunningham, writing at Green Schools National Network

“Educators who want to work against the systemic racism found in their school’s punitive discipline system can consider a different framework for classroom management and building school culture. Using practices rooted in restorative discipline is a promising way to do this. Restorative discipline is an approach to classroom management rooted in restorative justice philosophy. This philosophy advocates that schools should be places where young people are able to make mistakes, reflect upon and learn from these mistakes, and correct them as they continue to learn and grow. In terms of academics, U.S. schools have embraced this growth mindset idea. Students are expected to make mistakes on assignments, receive feedback from their teachers, learn from their errors, and continue to grow.”

Restorative justice isn’t working, but that’s not what the media is reporting | Max Eden, writing at The Thomas Fordham Institute

“Last week, the first randomized control trial study of ‘restorative justice’ in a major urban district, Pittsburgh Public Schools, was published by the RAND Corporation.

The results were curiously mixed. Suspensions went down in elementary but not middle schools. Teachers reported improved school safety, professional environment, and classroom management ability. But students disagreed. They thought their teachers’ classroom management deteriorated, and that students in class were less respectful and supportive of each other; at a lower confidence interval, they reported bullying and more instructional time lost to disruption. And although restorative justice is billed as a way to fight the ‘school-to-prison pipeline,’ it had no impact on student arrests. The most troubling thing: There were significant and substantial negative effects on math achievement for middle school students, black students, and students in schools that are predominantly black.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days 

March 18

March 22

Upcoming school board elections

We’re covering one school board recall election in the next 30 days. The March 29 recall is against Tim Stentiford, one of the 12 members of the Regional School Unit 21 school board in Maine. Recall supporters listed a loss of teachers in the district, increased spending on human resources, and the lack of a school board curriculum committee as reasons for the recall.

Districts in the following states will hold general school board elections on April 5:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin 

We’ll bring you more on those elections in future editions. 

School board candidates per seat up for election

For the 201 school board races we are covering whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.2 candidates are running for each seat.

Primary preview: Nebraska’s State Board of Education May 10 primaries

On May 10, voters will decide primaries for four of the State Board of Education’s eight nonpartisan seats. The Board’s statewide health education standards, first proposed in March 2021, have figured prominently in the runup to the primaries. 

In March 2021, the Board released a draft of proposed statewide health education standards that, according to the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, “would have taught about sexual orientations, identities and activities to children who were in elementary school.” A number of parents, and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), have criticized the non-binding standards.

The Board released a revised draft in July that removed “many references to sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, roles and stereotypes.” OutNebraska, an organization whose mission is to “empower, celebrate and grow LGBTQ+ communities in Nebraska,” said “This erasure does nothing to protect LGBTQ+ students. The fact that LGBTQ+ people exist should not be controversial.” Ricketts said that although the revised draft was an improvement over the first, the standards “still need improvement.”

In September, the Board voted to shelve the proposed standards. 

Board member Robin Stevens, who is running in the Seat 7 primary on May 10, was one of the five who voted to stop development of the standards. 

Stevens, who assumed office in 2019, said, “I want people to know that there has never been a vote by the state board to either approve or disapprove the proposed health standards … I felt like the language that was used in parts of the health standards was too raw and therefore inappropriate.”

Stevens faces two challengers: Pat Moore and Elizabeth Tegtmeier

Moore is a pastor who has emphasized local control of education decisions. In response to a question on Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey Moore said,  “Comprehensive sex education and Critical Race Theory concepts need to be removed from education in Nebraska.” 

Tegtmeier, a former public school teacher, said, “The board became so wrapped up in activist causes that attempted to indoctrinate our children that they neglected their duty to our local school districts.” Tegtmeier said she “promises to protect Nebraska’s children from harmful ideologies that promote racially divisive ideas and inappropriate sexual content.” 

Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), Lt. Gov. Mike Foley (R), several Republican state senators, and several county Republican parties endorsed Tegtmeier. 

All three Seat 7 candidates are Republicans.

Members are elected to four-year terms in nonpartisan elections. Four of eight seats are up for election this year. Three incumbents are running in 2022. One other incumbent, Democrat Deborah Neary, faces a primary with two challengers for the District 8 seat. The District 5 and District 6 seats saw two candidates file a piece, meaning the candidates will skip a primary and face off in the November general election.

The State Board of Education’s responsibilities include oversight and supervision of the state’s K-12 public schools.

San Francisco Mayor appoints new school board members

On March 11, San Francisco Mayor London Breed appointed Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward to the San Francisco Unified School District school board, filling vacancies caused by a Feb. 15 recall election. 

San Francisco voters recalled Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga. Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and upset the board spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than trying to reopen schools. 

In the aftermath of the election, López said, “None of this is a surprise. We’ve been threatened of a recall, maybe even six months into our term because of what we were highlighting. What we were bringing up. What we were challenging. The issue that I am pointing to is when that comes from people of color, primarily women of color, that is enough of a problem to silence us. How they achieved that was through a recall.”

The group behind the recall effort published a list of 21 potential candidates. Hsu and Motamedi were on that list. Siva Raj, who co-led the recall effort, said, “I think the next year is going to be critical for the school district. We have so many issues to deal with firstly a new superintendent to hire, there’s a learning loss, there’s also the budget crisis that we need to solve.”

The new board members will stand for election in November 2022. 

Read our coverage of the San Francisco Unified School District recall here

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey. 

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

The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #4

Welcome to Hall Pass. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: teachers unions and school policies 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • Why some states are rethinking participation in the National School Board Association
  • Candidate Connection survey

On the issues

In each edition, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on one of the issues school members consider when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

The debate over how teachers unions affect schools and policies

School districts throughout the country negotiate contracts with teachers unions. Debates about the impact of unions in school districts are a perennial feature of the policy landscape surrounding school governance.

Below, Glenn Sacks, a social studies teacher at a Los Angeles Unified School District high school, writes that public teachers unions advocate for policies that protect teachers’ time from activities like yard duty and supervising school events. Sacks says this gives teachers more time to focus on students. 

Edward Ring, a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, writes that public teachers unions tend to advocate for inefficient work rules, negotiate unsustainable pay and benefits with politicians they help elect, and protect bad teachers. Ring also says unions protect what he calls a left-wing agenda in classrooms. The California Policy Center describes itself as “an educational non-profit working for the prosperity of all Californians by eliminating public-sector barriers to freedom.”

Why teachers unions are good for your children | Glenn Sacks, Los Angeles Daily News

“The one group that is aware of and fights to defend teachers’ ability to provide students with a good education is teachers’ unions. Teachers’ unions help children’s education because they protect a precious resource — teachers’ time. At nonunion schools teachers are often weighed down with unnecessary labor such as yard duty and supervising school events. These duties reduce teachers’ ability to spend time helping students and preparing for classes.”

Why teachers unions are the worst of the worst | Edward Ring, California Policy Center

“The teachers unions are guilty of all the problems common to all public sector unions. They, too, have negotiated unsustainable rates of pay and benefits. They, too, elect their own bosses, negotiate inefficient work rules, have an insatiable need for more public funds, and protect incompetent members. But the teachers union is worse than all other public sector unions for one reason that eclipses all others: Their agenda is negatively affecting how we socialize and educate our children, the next generation of Americans.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

School board filing deadlines in the next 30 days 

Here are upcoming filing deadlines for districts we’re covering.  

March 11

March 18

March 22

Upcoming school board elections

We’re covering one school board recall election in the next 30 days. The March 29 recall is against Tim Stentiford, one of the 12 members of the Regional School Unit 21 school board in Maine. Recall supporters listed a loss of teachers in the district, increased spending in human resources, and the lack of a school board curriculum committee as reasons for their campaign.

Schools in the following states will hold general school board elections on April 5:

  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin 

We’ll bring you more on those elections in future editions. 

School board candidates per seat up for election

For the 144 school board races we are covering whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.3 candidates are running for each seat, the same number of candidates per seat we tracked on March 2.

Twenty states end participation in National School Board Association

Since October 2021, 20 state school board associations have terminated or suspended their membership in the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Founded in 1940, the NSBA states that it uses federal advocacy, legal advocacy, and public engagement to shape “federal education policy, raises public awareness of critical issues such as school safety and champions the mission of public education to prepare our nation’s youth for the future.” 

The boards’ actions followed the NSBA’s Sept. 29, 2021, letter to President Joe Biden (D) in which the organization described “threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members, and other public school district officials and educators” and called for “federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.”

On Oct. 22, the NSBA retracted the letter, writing: “As you all know, there has been extensive media and other attention recently around our letter to President Biden regarding threats and acts of violence against school board members. … On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter. To be clear, the safety of school board members, other public school officials and educators, and students is our top priority, and there remains important work to be done on this issue. However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”

Several boards of directors have cited the NSBA’s letter to Biden directly as a reason for withdrawing from the NSBA. For example, in a letter to members, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association wrote, “The most recent national controversy surrounding a letter to President Biden suggesting that some parents should be considered domestic terrorists was the final straw”.

​​Others cited governance issues more generally, such as the Louisiana School Boards Association, whose Board of Directors said they had considered withdrawing from the NSBA before the letter because of “ongoing concerns over management, leadership and the general direction of their organization.”

On February 7, the NSBA announced it was “launching an independent comprehensive review to fully understand the circumstances around the letter sent to the Biden administration.” To read the related memo, click here

The table below lists each state organization that has withdrawn from the NSBA by date. Click here to read each organization’s statement of withdrawal. 

Five affiliated state associations—Mississippi School Boards Association, Montana School Boards Association, North Carolina School Boards Association, Virginia School Boards Association—announced they intend on withdrawing from the NSBA in June 2022.  

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

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

The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #4

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

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.

The debate over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill

The Florida House of Representatives approved HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, on Feb. 24, 2022. As of March 1, the bill is before the state Senate.

Below, Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project, and Joe Saunders, senior political director for Equality Florida, write that Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill is too vague and would harm LGBTQ students and students with LGBTQ parents. The Trevor Project says its mission is “[t]o end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people.” Equality Florida says it is “the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community.”

Jay Richards and Jared Echkert with the Heritage Foundation write that media outlets are mischaracterizing Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. They say it would create greater transparency and protect children from material and topics that are not age appropriate. The Heritage Foundation says its mission is to “formulate and promote public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Florida’s ‘don’t say gay’ bill is cruel and dangerous | Amit Paley and Joe Saunders, CNN

“One of the most extreme examples [of anti-LGBTQ legislation] is a piece of legislation in Florida known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. It states school districts ‘may not encourage discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.’ The language, which is vague and could apply to K-12 classrooms across Florida, could be used to prohibit open discussions of LGBTQ people and issues. If passed, it would effectively erase entire chapters of history, literature, and critical health information in schools — and silence LGBTQ students and those with LGBTQ parents or family members. It’s just one of several divisive and dehumanizing bills in Florida that use LGBTQ youth as political pawns to limit conversations about gender and sexual identity. Let’s be clear: The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill will do real and lasting harm.”

Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill Hits Target: Gender Ideology Harms Kids | Jay Richards and Jared Eckert, The Heritage Foundation

“Lawmakers in the Sunshine State have introduced a new bill, Parental Rights in Education. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, that may be because big media have mislabeled it as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill. The bill would not ban the word ‘gay.’ Rather, it would protect children from teachers and other school officials who seek to sexualize and bombard them with gender ideology. In particular, it would require schools to be transparent with and get permission from parents for any health services students receive. It would also prohibit elementary school teachers from pushing classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity. Liberal activists are claiming that the parental rights bill would harm kids. Nonsense. It would protect young kids from what is, in effect, sexual grooming—whether in the classroom or the nurse’s office. The fact that this has become a partisan issue is a sign of how bizarre our culture and politics have become.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days

March 1

The following Nebraska school districts have non-incumbent filing deadlines (the filing deadline for incumbents was Feb. 15):

March 7

The following Texas school districts have filing deadlines:

Upcoming school board elections

We’re covering one school board recall election in the next 30 days. The March 29 recall is against Tim Stentiford, one of the 12 members of the Regional School Unit 21 school board in Maine. Recall supporters listed a loss of teachers in the district, increased spending in human resources, and the lack of a school board curriculum committee as reasons for the recall effort.

Schools in the following states will hold general school board elections on April 5:

  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin 

We’ll bring you more on those elections in future editions. 

School board candidates per seat up for election

Within the 144 school board races we are covering whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.3 candidates are running for each seat, down from 2.62 candidates per seat on Feb. 23.

Judge rules against Virginia school’s new admissions policy

On Feb. 25., Claude Hilton, a senior judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, ruled that Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a selective public high school in Virginia, violated federal law when it changed its admissions policies to boost the enrollment of Black and Hispanic students. President Ronald Reagan (R) appointed Hilton to the court in 1985.

The Fairfax County Public Schools Board of Education voted to implement the admissions system on Dec. 17, 2020. Changes included removal of the requirement that eligible students take three standardized tests and a new evaluation criteria that considering factors like the applicant’s attendance at schools regarded as historically underrepresented. 

Coalition for TJ, a group of parents whose kids had applied or were planning on applying to the school, sued the Fairfax County School Board on March 3, 2021. They alleged the new admissions policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and discriminated against Asian-American students. The Pacific Legal Foundation, which describes itself as a “nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans’ liberties when threatened by government overreach and abuse,” is representing Coalition for TJ. The case is titled Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board.

In his ruling, Hilton noted the proportion of Asian-American students admitted to the school declined under the new system, falling from 73% in the class of 2024 to 54% in the class of 2025.

Hilton wrote: “Even aside from the statements confirming that the board’s goal was to bring racial balance to TJ, the board’s requests for racial data demonstrate discriminatory intent. Discriminatory intent does not require racial animus. What matters is that the board acted at least in part because of, not merely in spite of the policy’s adverse effects upon an identifiable group.”

John Foster, an attorney for the Fairfax County Public Schools, said, “The new process is blind to race, gender and national origin and gives the most talented students from every middle school a seat at TJ. We believe that a trial would have shown that the new process meets all legal requirements.”

Foster said the Fairfax County Public Schools is considering an appeal. 

SCOTUS to hear race in admissions questions

In related news, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider two consolidated cases dealing with the use of race in higher education admissions in its 2022-2023 term.

On Jan. 24, 2022, the court agreed to hear arguments in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard, a case challenging Harvard University’s and the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) admissions policies. The case was consolidated with Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFFA), the plaintiff in both consolidated cases, challenged the legality of race-conscious admissions programs in federally-funded higher education institutions. SFFA alleged these programs violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

SFFA appealed to the Supreme Court on Feb. 25, 2021, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit ruled that Harvard’s admissions program did not violate Title VI. On Nov. 11, 2021, SFFA again appealed to the Supreme Court after the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina decided in favor of the legality of UNC’s admissions program.

SFFA asked the Supreme Court to overrule its 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the Court upheld the use of such race-conscious programs so long as the use of race is “narrowly tailored to further compelling government interests.” The Court found that the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions program did not violate the 14th Amendment or Title VI because “the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the Law School’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”

SFFA presented the following questions to the court:

  • “Should this Court overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), and hold that institutions of higher education cannot use race as a factor in admissions?”
  • “Title VI of the Civil Rights Act bans race-based admissions that, if done by a public university, would violate the Equal Protection Clause. Gratz v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 244, 276 n.23 (2003). Is Harvard violating Title VI by penalizing Asian-American applicants, engaging in racial balancing, overemphasizing race, and rejecting workable race neutral alternatives?”

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said, “The Supreme Court decision to review the unanimous decisions of the lower federal courts puts at risk 40 years of legal precedent granting colleges and universities the freedom and flexibility to create diverse campus communities.” 

UNC associate vice chancellor for communication Beth Keith said, “As the trial court held, our process is consistent with long-standing Supreme Court precedent and allows for an evaluation of each student in a deliberate and thoughtful way.”

Click here to learn more about Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey. 

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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!