Basic Background: The Way to Win
This is the third cycle I’ve made this document, and I bring you good news: it is very possible to avoid a pro-censorship school board takeover, even in deep red districts in Texas. Look at what happened last November: Of the 38 red- and orange-highlighted candidates I tracked in the last version of this document, 30 lost. I profiled nine districts, and the good guys won out in seven of them on election day. Seven of the eight Texas candidates endorsed by Moms for Liberty lost. If you care about academic freedom and inclusive classrooms, election night in November of 2022 in Texas was a good night.
The rules for defeating pro-censorship candidates are simple: organize and inform. Banning books and attacking vulnerable students are unpopular positions, but candidates who support those positions have won way too many races for three reasons: 1) pro-censorship forces have a massive organization and fundraising advantage; 2) voters don’t know who the book-banning candidates are; and (to a lesser extent), 3) pro-censorship forces have been able to activate partisan instincts in red districts by turning non-partisan school board elections into a fight between Democrats and Republicans.
So what do we do? In the last edition of this guide, I called the path to victory the Eanes/Richardson playbook because of the great groups in those districts that effectively fought off well-funded slates of pro-censorship candidates. But last fall gave us many more examples of outstanding community groups doing great work to combat the better-funded, more-established PACs on the anti-inclusion side. Two very different but similarly effective groups that deserve mention are Access Education Round Rock ISD and the “StandUp” groups in the Houston suburbs Tomball, Klein, and (post-election) Conroe. If there’s a group like that in your community, join it now. If there’s not, start one. Reach out to the leaders of successful groups to learn how.
Those groups can help you with the “organize” part of the job. But organization depends on information, and that’s where this document comes in. Share what you see here; make it your goal that every voter going to the polls in May knows exactly who wants to ban books from and attack students in your district’s schools.
The document currently has information about candidates from thirteen ISD elections. There are opportunities on offense, to take out book-banners, as well as a number of good incumbents who will need protection. There are also some opportunities to learn more about an opponent to a known book-banner. Two of the featured ISDs are in the Houston area – Humble and Katy – while the others all appear to be in the D/FW area. I strongly urge you to check these out, to spread the word, to get involved, and to help make Texas’ school boards better places for all. Many thanks to Ginger, our weekly Dispatches from Dallas correspondent who I expect will have her own things to say about this, for the find.