Tagschool board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 

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 #3

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 partisan and nonpartisan school board elections

Below, Aaron Churchill, a research director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, writes that partisan school board elections would allow voters to make more informed decisions. Churchill says adding party affiliations to ballots for school board candidates would allow voters to easily identify the candidate who aligns with their beliefs, hold school board members accountable, and disrupt the status quo. The Thomas B. Fordman Institute says its mission is to “promote educational excellence for every child in America via quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as advocacy and exemplary charter school authorizing in Ohio.”

Michael Ford, an associate professor of public administration at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, writes in Governing that while school board members have ideological preferences, school board elections should remain non-partisan. Ford says partisan elections would nationalize elections that should focus on local issues. He also says partisan elections create unnecessary political tensions that impede school boards from doing their normal jobs, which don’t typically involve hot-button partisan issues.

The case for partisan school board elections | Aaron Churchill, The Thomas Fordham Institute

“Moreover, school board elections are also an important form of local accountability and oversight. When citizens are unhappy with the district, they can always voice their dissatisfaction at the ballot box. Yet nonpartisan elections likely weaken accountability because voters don’t know which party is in power and who deserves the boot for acting contrary to their interests. As political scientist Charles Adrian theorized many years ago, nonpartisan elections ‘tend to frustrate protest voting’ as people cannot easily identify which candidates belong to the ‘in’ or ‘out’ group. In other words, it’s hard to shake up the status quo when you can’t figure out who’s part of it. Including party labels in school board elections seems like a commonsense reform that would give voters more information, while also potentially increasing participation and enhancing local accountability.”

Why School Board Elections Should Stay Nonpartisan | Michael Ford, Governing

“So if school board members do have ideological preferences, why keep up the ruse? Well, I think the arguments for reform are missing the point. This issue is not whether a democratic governing body will reflect the political diversity of the electorate — it most certainly will — but whether the structures of our governing institutions impact their performance. The goal of having nonpartisan elections is not to remove all politics from governing, but rather to remove a conflict point that keeps the school board from doing its job. … The work of governing, which includes budgeting, planning, internal policymaking, managing the executive, communicating with the public, etc., is not as exciting as the hot-button partisan issues of the day. But it is the work that ultimately impacts organizational outcomes. That is not to say school boards can or should avoid all hot-button issues, but I fear explicitly partisan elections invite state and federal battles into a local governing context at the expense of truly local issues. To be more blunt, I do not want school boards to become just another venue for nakedly partisan conflict.”

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

  • Texas: The filing deadline for one seat on the Fort Worth Independent School District school board is March 7. The election takes place on May 7, and a runoff, if necessary, is scheduled for June 18.

Upcoming school board elections

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 114 school board races we are covering whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.62 candidates are running for each seat, down from 2.77 candidates per seat on Feb. 16. This is the most candidates per school board seat since at least 2018.

Partisan school board elections: recent state legislative activity 

Most local school districts in the United States hold nonpartisan school board elections. In 2017, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute estimated that 90% of all school boards held nonpartisan elections. 

Still, partisan school board elections are more common in some states. Louisiana and Pennsylvania require all school districts to hold partisan elections. In Georgia and North Carolina, some districts hold partisan elections while others do not.

Recently, Tennessee joined Georgia and North Carolina in allowing—but not requiring—districts to hold partisan school board elections. Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed HB9072 into law on Nov. 21, 2021. The law, which took effect immediately, says that candidates can run as the representative of a political party if a county party committee “elects to conduct school board elections on a partisan basis.” In districts holding partisan elections, the law says “political parties may elect to nominate a candidate under party rules rather than by primary election.” 

The state House approved the bill 52-39, with 52 Republicans voting in favor, 16 Republicans voting against, and 23 Democrats voting against. The state Senate approved the bill 20-10, with 20 Republicans voting in favor and four Republicans and six Democrats voting against.

Since the start of 2022, state legislators in Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, West Virginia have introduced bills touching on partisan school board elections. All four states have Republican trifectas.  

Georgia — Senate Bill 369

Senate Bill 369, introduced on Jan. 24, would “provide that future elections for members of the board of education shall be nonpartisan” in Gwinnett County. Currently, Gwinnett County school board elections are partisan. The Board is composed of three Democrats and two Republicans, as well as an appointed, nonpartisan superintendent. 

The Georgia House approved the bill 95-61 on Feb. 17. The Senate approved the bill 32-21 on Feb. 2. The bill now goes to Gov. Brian Kemp (R). 

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “about 40% of Georgia’s 180 school districts hold partisan elections. The rest, using a law that allows for local control, don’t let candidates identify with a political party.” 

Two seats on the Gwinnett County Public Schools school board in Georgia are up for general election on Nov. 8, with a primary scheduled for May 24. 

Indiana — House Bills 1182 & 1240; Senate Bill 0144

Since the start of 2022, state lawmakers have introduced three bills that would either require or allow school board candidates to declare a partisan affiliation. The two House bills—HB 1182 and 1240—were introduced on Jan. 6, while the Senate bill—SB 0144—was introduced on Feb. 4. The three bills are awaiting committee action. 

Both HB 1182 and HB 1240 would require local school board candidates to declare a partisan affiliation. SB 0144 would allow school board candidates to choose to display a partisan affiliation on a ballot. 

South Carolina 

The South Carolina House voted 59-44 to pass House Bill 4800 on Feb. 17. HB 4800 would require school districts in Lancaster County to hold partisan elections. According to the Lancaster News, only two counties in South Carolina require partisan school board elections—Lee and Horry. 

HB 4800 was introduced on Feb. 10. It initially failed in the House, but was brought back up for a vote a week later. The bill now goes to the Senate. Because HB 4800 is considered a local bill, the two Senators representing Lancaster County are the only members of the Senate who need to approve it for it to go to Gov. Henry McMaster’s (R) desk. If McMaster approves it, the bill would take effect in 2024. 

West Virginia — House Joint Resolution 106

House Joint Resolution 106 would amend the West Virginia state constitution to allow local school districts to hold partisan school board elections. Currently, school board candidates are prohibited from listing a partisan affiliation on the ballot. 

HJR 106 was introduced on Feb. 7. The House Education Committee advanced the bill via a voice vote on Feb. 10, and it now heads to the House Judiciary Committee. To refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot, each chamber of the state Legislature must pass the amendment by a two-thirds vote during one legislative session. West Virginia voters would decide the amendment in November. 

State Rep. Ed Evans (D), a member of the House Education Committee, said, “I think the worst thing we can do is interject any of the Washington politics or state politics or county politics, in many cases, into anything that affects kids.” 

State Rep. Margitta Mazzocchi (R), who is also on the House Education Committee, said, “That little letter, R, D, I, whatever, will make it easier to identify what they stand for…I want people to know exactly what they’re getting.” 

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 appear in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

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



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #2

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 masking in classrooms

CNN opinion columnist Jill Filipovic writes that the CDC needs to stop promoting the generalized recommendation for continued mask-wearing in schools. Instead, the CDC should offer a clear formula based on case, hospitalization, and vaccination rates for when school mask mandates should be lifted or reinstated.

Kylee Zempel, an editor at The Federalist, says that scientific data on the effectiveness of masks in schools has not changed in recent months. She says leaders ignored the data and silenced conservative views. Zempel says recent changes to school mask policies have been politically, not scientifically, motivated.

In some blue states, masks are coming off — but not everyone is ready | Jill Filipovic, CNN

“What we need is not just clear guidance for the here and now, but a clear formula for when mask mandates should lift, where they should lift, and when they may need to be reinstated. Covid-19 is not a static disease, and public health guidance should evolve as the disease does…

But when case rates are significantly down, hospitals aren’t overwhelmed and community vaccination rates are high, it’s time for a reprieve. Students and staff should be able to unmask in these conditions.

Whether that moment is now is above my pay grade. It shouldn’t be on lay people, from CNN columnists to state governors to Twitter warriors, to be making these imperfect calculations. We need the CDC to step up and offer a clear and sensible formula instead of generalized guidance. And we need to start thinking about Covid-19 the way we do about other threats to our lives and health: focus on risk-reduction measures that are specific and targeted, and aimed at allowing us to live our lives balancing, as best we can, public health, pleasure and freedom.”

Science On Covid And Kids Hasn’t Changed, Only The Politics Has | Kylee Zempel, The Federalist

“None of the recent goalpost-shifting has been the result of some huge scientific breakthrough.

You also knew based on elementary-level reasoning that if a certain mask affords any protection from an airborne virus, it must logically protect the wearer, not merely the bystanders. Not to mention, you did your homework and knew those flimsy cloth masks required by petty government and school diktats were not stopping the spread. Both opinions were scoffed out of polite society but are now acknowledged as true because circumstances, they are a-changin’.” 

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.

Election results from the past week

On Feb. 15, we covered four school board recall elections in California and Nebraska and a primary election for four at-large seats on the Beloit School District school board in Wisconsin.

San Francisco Unified School District recall

Voters recalled three members of the San Francisco Unified School District. Click here to read more about the recall’s background. 

Gabriela López: Voters approved the recall election against Lopez 75% to 25%. 

Alison Collins: Voters approved the recall election against Collins 78.6% to 21.4%.

Faauuga Moliga: Voters approved the recall election against Moliga 72.1% to 27.9%.

López, Collins, and Moliga will not be removed from office until the county certifies the election results. Results are expected to be certified March 1. 

Giltner Public Schools, Nebraska, recall

Voters approved the recall election against Chris Waddle 62.1% to 37.9%. Waddle is the president of the Giltner Public Schools Board of Education. Click here to read more about this recall’s background.

Beloit School District, Wisconsin

Eleven candidates ran in the primary for four at-large seats. The top eight vote-getters advanced to the general election. Three incumbents ran for re-election—Megan Miller, Gregg Schneider, and Allison Semrau. 

One incumbent—Semrau—lost in the primary. The following candidates will appear on the general election ballot:

Megan Miller (12.7%)

Ryan McKillips (11.9%)

Brian Anderson (11.4%)

J’Juan Winfield (11.2%)

Torie Champeny (10.6%)

Christine Raleigh (9.9%)

Katherine Larson (8.6%)

In the general election, the three candidates with the most votes will serve full three-year terms, and the candidate with the fourth-most votes will serve a one-year term.

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days

  • Texas: The filing deadline for one seat on the Fort Worth Independent School District school board is March 7. The election for a three-year unexpired term takes place on May 7. A runoff, if necessary, is scheduled for June 18.

Upcoming school board elections

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

An average of 2.77 candidates are running for each school board seat within our current coverage scope whose filing deadline has passed, up from 2.62 candidates per seat on Feb. 9. This is the most candidates per school board seat since at least 2018.

School mask requirements

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve tracked how states have responded to the virus’ effect on public education. Today, we’re taking a look at the status of school mask requirements as of Feb. 15.

  • Thirteen states and Washington D.C. require masks in at least some schools. Of those 13 states, 11 have Democratic governors (Washington D.C. has a Democratic mayor) and two have Republican governors.
    • California
    • Connecticut
    • Delaware
    • Hawaii
    • Louisiana (required for some schools)
    • Maryland (required for some schools)
    • Massachusetts (required for some schools)
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico (required for some schools)
    • New York
    • Oregon
    • Rhode Island
    • Washington
    • Washington D.C. 
  • Seven states have banned school mask requirements. All seven states have Republican governors.
    • Florida
    • Iowa
    • Oklahoma
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Virginia
  • The remaining 30 states leave mask mandates in schools up to local authorities. Of those 30 states, 26 have Republican governors and four have Democratic governors. 

How have those numbers changed since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year? On Aug. 5, 2021, 10 states required masks in schools, eight states banned school mask requirements, and 33 states left mask requirements in schools up to local authorities.  

Over the last several weeks, several governors and state agencies announced changes to mask requirements in K-12 public schools. Here’s a roundup of the latest news:

February 10

  • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D)lifted the statewide school mask requirement, transferring authority for mask decisions to local jurisdictions.

February 9

  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley announced the state would end its school mask requirement on Feb. 28.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced that, if the legislature votes to extend his emergency powers, he would end the school mask requirement on March 4.

February 7

  • The Oregon Health Authority announced it would end the statewide school mask requirement on March 31. 
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced he intended to end the statewide school mask requirement on Feb. 28.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced the school mask requirement would end on March 7.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) extended the state’s school mask requirement, but said it would expire on March 31.

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 #1

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you 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.

Subscribe here!

On the issues

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues facing school board members. 

The debate over who gets to decide what’s age-appropriate and what’s necessary in classrooms

Below, Margaret Renkl, a New York Times opinion columnist, writes that the McGinn County, Tennessee, school board’s decision to remove the book Maus from its eighth-grade curriculum is a form of book banning. She says this indicates a nationwide effort to undercut local school board power and threatens public education.

Mark Hemmingway, a Senior Writer at RealClearInvestigations, writes communities should have the ability to decide what meets their standards of acceptability. Hemingway says the national media’s coverage of McMinn County’s removal of Maus has politicized the issue and is taking power away from local school boards.

In Tennessee, the ‘Maus’ Controversy Is the Least of Our Worries | Margaret Renkl, New York Times

“Still, it is possible to trust that the parents in McMinn County are acting in what they believe is the best interest of their children, and also to recognize that these parents are being manipulated by toxic and dangerous political forces operating at the state and national levels. Here in Tennessee, book bans are just a small but highly visible part of a much larger effort to privatize public schools and turn them into conservative propaganda centers. This crusade is playing out in ways that transcend local school board decisions, and in fact are designed to wrest control away from them altogether.”

In Tennessee, the ‘Maus’ Controversy Is the Least of Our Worries | Margaret Renkl, New York Times

Parental Input on Education Is Not ‘Book Banning’ | Mark Hemmingway, Real Clear Politics

“I don’t take concerns about book banning lightly. … However, I’ve also spent more than a decade on the board of a private school, and decisions about what’s taught in K-12 classrooms and what ends up on school library shelves isn’t a tidy free speech issue. When the national media suggest that parents, administrators, and teachers are censors – or, worse, are “banning” books – by making necessary decisions about what reading material is age-appropriate or meets community standards, more often than not these news outlets are the ones politicizing education.”

Parental Input on Education Is Not ‘Book Banning’ | Mark Hemmingway, Real Clear Politics

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.

Election results from the past week

On Feb. 8, we covered eight school board primary elections in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, winners in primary contests are determined by majority vote. The top two candidates participate in an April 5 general election if no candidate wins a majority in the first round of balloting.

Twenty-one Oklahoma school board elections within our coverage scope were canceled due to lack of opposition. In 2020, 24 school board primary elections were canceled due to a lack of opposition. 

Union Public Schools Board of Education Zone 2

Edmond Public Schools Board of Education District 2 

Edmond Public Schools Board of Education District 5 (special election) 

Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education District 7

Catoosa Public Schools school board Number 2

  • Stefan Swaggerty won the election outright with 52.4% of the vote. Swaggerty defeated three other candidates.  

Mustang Public Schools Board of Education Seat 2

Piedmont Public Schools school board Number 2

  • Katie Cornman won the election outright with 55.1% of the vote. Cornman defeated two other candidates.  

Broken Arrow Public Schools Board of Education Zone 2

  • Debbie Taylor won the election outright with 51.7% of the vote. Cornman defeated three other candidates.

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 60 days 

  • Texas: The filing deadline for one seat on the Fort Worth Independent School District school board is March 7. The election for a three-year unexpired term takes place on May 7. A runoff, if necessary, is scheduled for June 18.

School board elections or recalls happening in the next 30 days

Ballotpedia’s staff is covering recall elections against four school board members in two districts over the next month. 

Feb. 15 recall elections

March, April, and May will bring primaries or elections in Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Wisconsin.

School board candidates per seat up for election

So far in 2022, an average of 2.62 candidates are running for each school board seat within our current coverage scope whose filing deadline has passed. This is the most candidates per school board seat since at least 2018. 

The Feb. 15 recall of three San Francisco, Ca., school board members

Three members of the San Francisco Unified School DistrictGabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga—face recall elections on Feb. 15.

Recall supporters said they are frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Siva Raj, a parent who filed the notices of intent to recall along with Autumn Looijen, said, “We are parents, not politicians, and intend to stay that way. We are determined to ensure San Francisco’s public schools provide a quality education for every kid in the city.” 

Supporters are also upset the board spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. Raj said, “What we saw consistently was a pattern where the school board leadership focused on a lot of political stunts and symbolic gestures like trying to rename schools, and doing that ultimately badly.”

Moliga stood behind his record, saying, “The recall effort shows there is a group of parents that are frustrated with the school board. I am the first Pacific Islander ever elected in office in San Francisco, giving my marginalized community a voice in local government for the first time.” 

Collins said, “We can’t let people scare us. When I see certain people getting upset, I know I’m doing the right thing. If it’s people that have power and don’t want to share it, there’s people who want to make decisions without being inclusive, of course they are going to get upset.”

López characterized the recall against her as sexist, ageist, and racist, saying, “The people who are behind this don’t know us, they don’t know our work, they don’t know what we’ve been doing, they don’t know what we are dedicated to. They hear what’s out there and they recognize this is an opportunity to bring down someone who is me.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed endorsed the recall on Nov. 9, 2021. “Sadly, our school board’s priorities have often been severely misplaced. During such a difficult time, the decisions we make for our children will have long term impacts. Which is why it is so important to have leadership that will tackle these challenges head on. … Our kids must come first.”

So far in 2022, 24 recall efforts are underway against 64 school board members in Arizona, California, Nebraska, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, and Virginia. In 2021, we tracked 92 recall efforts nationwide against school board members—more than any year since 2006. The next highest was 38 recall efforts in 2010.

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!



School districts in California and Nebraska to hold recall elections on Feb. 15

The San Francisco Unified School District in California and the Giltner school district in Nebraska are holding recall elections against a total of four school board members on Feb. 15. Voters in both school districts will be able to cast yes votes in favor of the recalls or no votes against the recalls.

In San Francisco, three school board members are on the ballot: 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 reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said they were upset that the board had spent time voting to rename 44 buildings in the district rather than focusing on opening schools. ​​“From day one, the campaign was a campaign to get politics out of education,” Siva Raj, one of the recall petitioners and a district parent, said. “What we saw consistently was a pattern where the school board leadership focused on a lot of political stunts and symbolic gestures like trying to rename schools, and doing that ultimately badly.”

Members unanimously voted to rescind the approval of the renaming process at a board meeting on April 6. At the same meeting, they voted to return students to full-time in-person instruction at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. In reaction to the recall effort, Moliga said he stood behind his record. López characterized the recall against her as sexist, ageist, and racist. “We can’t let people scare us,” Collins said. “When I see certain people getting upset, I know I’m doing the right thing. If it’s people that have power and don’t want to share it, there’s people who want to make decisions without being inclusive, of course they are going to get upset.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced her endorsement of the recall on Nov. 9. If the board members are recalled, the mayor will appoint replacements. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to collect ​​51,325 signatures per board member by Sept. 7.

In Giltner, one school board member is on the ballot: Chris Waddle. The recall effort was started by Jamie Bendorf, a resident of Giltner, Neb. On the recall petition filing form, Bendorf wrote, “Christopher Waddle doesn’t hold the best interest of the patrons in the Giltner School District.” Bendorf also published a statement about the recall effort, saying “what concerns me the most is hearing about families who have left due to administration dismissing concerns, current GPS parents that are looking at other options for schooling out of district, or even worse the fact they are regretting sending their child or children here.”

Waddle submitted the following response to the recall petition: “We have a strong administrative team, the finest teachers and staff, the highest enrollment of students in years and the district is in a good financial position for the future […] These things happen when you have a school board with the right vision for the future. A recall under these conditions is not in the best interest of our school.”

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to submit 119 signatures of school district residents by Oct. 12.

Ballotpedia has tracked 24 school board recall efforts against 64 board members in 2022. Four school districts held recall elections in January. All seven school board members who were on the recall ballots kept their seats.

In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.

Additional reading: