Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Issue #6 – Ballotpedia News
Welcome to HallPass. This newsletter keeps you informed of conversations about school board policy and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest school board elections, as well as insightful commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues facing school boards in all 14,000 school districts across the country. We’ll also bring you the latest information on school board elections and recall efforts, including nomination deadlines and election results.
In today’s edition you will find:
- On the issues: The debate on parents’ access to educational materials
- School Board Filing Deadlines, Election Results and Reminder Certificates
- An update on school board recall efforts
- Candidate Connection Survey
On the issues
In this section, we organize reports, analysis, and commentary on issues that school board members deliberate as they set out to provide the best possible education in their district.
The debate over parental access to teaching materials
A current debate in legislatures and school districts is whether schools should publish teacher training programs and materials online. For example, on March 14, the Arizona State Senate passed SB 1211, a bill that would require schools to post classroom schedules and activities online. The bill is now before the House for consideration.
Below, Christopher Rufo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and director of the Institute’s Critical Race Theory Initiative, writes that parents should be able to see what public schools are teaching their children. Rufo says parents’ access to school materials is particularly important on issues such as race, gender and sex, and political ideology.
Forbes senior contributor Natalie Wexler writes that the lack of published curriculum online does not indicate that schools and school districts are hiding politically charged teaching materials. Wexler says teachers rarely rely on a set curriculum, so it’s difficult to share their materials with parents. Wexler says greater reliance on the program could improve learning outcomes, but transparency bills on controversial topics could discourage use of the program.
The struggle for program transparency | Christopher Rufo, city newspaper
“The case for curriculum transparency rests on an irrefutable moral argument: Parents have a right to know what the government is teaching their children. Parents are not only taxpayers, but also key stakeholders in the public education system. About 90% of American families entrust the education of their children to public schools. The minimum responsibility of this system is to provide accurate, timely, and complete program information, particularly with respect to sensitive and controversial topics such as race, gender, identity, and political ideology. The recent reaction from parents highlights the importance of transparency. Millions of American families feel that public schools go against their values. Transparency legislation is the bare minimum for public schools to begin to rebuild trust with these families. »
We need ‘program transparency’, but not the kind some state bills would require | Natalie Wexler, Forbes
“[M]Most public education officials have no idea what materials are actually used in school districts. Local district officials often do not know what materials are used in school buildings. Even principals may not know exactly what teachers are using in the classroom down the hall. And teachers themselves may not know what materials they will use in class until the day before. Obviously, this would make it difficult, if not impossible, to publish “curricula” online. … If curriculum transparency is reduced to a vehicle for challenging allegedly offensive or divisive material, schools may be reluctant to include any content in their curricula. They will stay with or return to an ELA [English language arts] curriculum which consists of the usual set of “comprehension skills” and does not specify any content. »
School Board Update: Filing Deadlines, Election Results and Reminder Certificates
Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the nation’s largest districts. We are gradually increasing the number we cover by keeping an eye on all of the approximately 14,000 districts with elected school boards.
States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days
Next school elections
Districts in the following states will hold general school board elections on April 5:
We will come back to these elections in more detail in our next issue.
We are covering a school board recall election in the next 30 days. the March 29 recall is against Tim Stentiford, one of 12 school board members from Regional School Unit 21 in Maine.
Supporters of the recall cited the loss of teachers in the district, increased human resources expenses, and the lack of a school board curriculum committee as reasons for the recall. The affidavit to recall LeBlanc stated his “role in negotiating the last teachers contract and its impact on staff attrition, failure to serve on a curriculum committee and failure in executive leadership by allowing teachers , parents and community members to be intimidated and reprimanded in public meetings, caused a loss of confidence in his ability to carry out the duties and responsibilities of office.
Stentiford had not responded to the recall effort. However, Board Chairman Art LeBlanc, whom recall proponents unsuccessfully tried to include in the recall effort, said on November 23, 2021:
“The Council’s goals are to provide a high quality public education, to be academically leaders in our state and nation, and to ensure that our staff receive competitive salaries and benefits. We are proud of the concrete and undeniable steps the district has taken over the past two years to support our employees during the pandemic, to significantly evolve our pay scales, and to ensure the health and safety of our students and employees. Council members are aware that there is a well-organized group that meets regularly and seems focused on discrediting the work of the Council and administration for political gain. Despite this group’s efforts to cast doubt on the Council’s commitment to our motives, the Council will remain steadfast in its commitment to supporting our students and employees.
Learn more about this recall here.
Candidates for school boards by seat to be filled
For the 204 school board races we cover whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.19 candidates are running for each seat.
This year’s school board recall elections so far
According to our analysis of year-end recalls, we tracked more recall efforts in 2021 than any other year since we began compiling recall data in 2012. Notably, for the first time since we started tracking recalls, school board members faced more recalls than any other kind of office.
So far this year, we’ve tracked 28 recall attempts against 69 school board officials— the highest number of recalls among all civil servants (members of the municipal council came next, with 57 civil servants named in the recalls).
Six school board recalls were voted on this year against 11 officials. Of these eleven officials, four were successfully recalled from their posts.
- Jan. 11: Andy Grosshans recall, Waverly School District 145, Nebraska (failed)
- January 11: Recall of Suzy Ernest and Roland Rushman, Leyton Public Schools, Nebraska (failure)
- January 18: Recall of Dave Brown and Brian Shannon, School District of Newberg, Oregon (failure)
- January 24: Recall of Diane Brown and Michael Knapp, Belchertown Public Schools, Massachusetts (failure)
- February 15: San Francisco, CA Unified School District Recall (passed)
- February 15: Recall by Chris Waddle, Giltner Public Schools, Nebraska (passed)
Looking ahead, Tim Stentiford, who was discussed above, is due for a recall on March 29. petitions to approve, circulate petitions, or wait for signatures to be verified. We will keep you updated on these efforts and any new efforts that arise each week.
Here’s where we tracked recall efforts this year:
In 2021, California accounted for nearly 30% of recall school board elections nationwide.
Twenty-three states allow the recall of school board members.
Six of the states that allow school board recalls require specific grounds to be met for a recall effort to go ahead, such as misconduct or malpractice. The number of signatures required for a school board reminder on the ballot varies by state. Common factors for calculating the signature requirement include the size of the council member‘s jurisdiction and the number of votes cast in a previous election. In all but one state, recall elections are held if enough signatures are collected. Virginia is the exception. If enough signatures are collected in that state, a trial takes place at the circuit court level.
The length of time recall petitions are allowed to circulate also varies from state to state. Georgia, Nebraska and North Carolina have the shortest petition circulation times at 30 days. Of the states that have a deadline for circulating petitions, Washington has the longest at 180 days. New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia have no time limit for the circulation of petitions
Take our candidate connection survey to reach voters in your riding
Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know that it can be difficult for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Login—a survey designed to help candidates talk to voters about their campaigns, issues and more.
During the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates responded to the survey.
If you are a school board nominee or incumbent, click here to take the survey.
The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you think will best represent your point of view to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your responses will appear on your Ballotpedia profile. Your answers will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.
And if you’re not running for a school board, but there’s an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and encourage them to take the survey!