October 6, 2022

Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #17 – Ballotpedia News

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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: The debate over school funding and the purpose of public schools 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • A state-level look at school board candidates per seat
  • Extracurricular: links from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues

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

The debate over school funding and the purpose of public schools

Arguments about public school funding and vouchers often come down to beliefs about the purpose of schools. Below, two authors provide competing points on this topic.

Adam Byrn Tritt writes that public funding of schools primarily exists to create good citizens who can participate in democratic processes. Tritt says education is a collective benefit, which is why people without children pay taxes that fund public schools, why parents should not be able to control curriculum, and why public funding should not follow children who leave public schools.  

Jason Peirce writes that public education funding exists primarily for the benefit of individuals, especially parents and students. Peirce says taxpayers should not have to support schools that perform poorly on tests and other metrics. He says public funding should follow students to protect individual liberty, promote decentralization, and promote parental oversight of public schools and curricula. 

Public schools aren’t for just children or parents, but for society as a whole | Opinion | Adam Byrn Tritt, Florida Today

“I asked, why is it that folks without kids still pay for schools for you guys? Why did Jefferson want free education? … Why is it that curriculum isn’t up to parents? Why are school boards not elected by just parents? Because schools aren’t for their benefit. They aren’t for your benefit, either. They are for the collective benefit. Collective. The benefit of our society as a whole, not the individual. The purpose of public education is to ensure the citizens, the voters, have the ability to look critically at facts, and tell fact from fiction, fact from opinion. So voters can make smart decisions based on facts and then become smart officials, and officeholders who make decisions based on what’s best for the country and its people.. … Thus, our public schools are not for the children. They are not for the parents. They are for the country and our democracy. A curriculum, based on literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, and rhetorical skill is necessary for the protection of our republic. If such a curriculum is not to the liking of a parent, there are private schools. If a parent does not like the secular nature of public education, there are religious schools. If there is a book a parent wishes a child not read, they may forbid their child to read it. But they must understand the public school is not made for the good of the individual student, and the parent is not the “customer.”

Students, not failing schools, should be the ones receiving funding | Opinion | Jason Pierce, Florida Today

“Recent guest columnist Adam Bryn Tritt’s use of Thomas Jefferson to make his case that public schools and the education system exist for ‘the collective benefit’ of our ‘country and democracy,’ and ‘not for the children’ and their parents, is wrong-headedly backwards. Fact is, Jefferson and his fellow Founding Fathers founded the United States on the idea of individual liberty. Logically therefore, this country exists to uphold the individual liberty of the individuals comprising it, not any other way around, and certainly not the way Tritt would have it, which assumes we the people exist for the country, and government. … Jefferson held the complete opposite view. He believed school management by ‘any authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward … is a belief against all experiences.’ … Indeed, parents should be allowed to seek whatever education options they deem best for their children. And for starters, they should be able to take all public education dollars available with them, to whatever school they choose. This is school choice, what many now call the “civil rights issue of our time.” School choice would fund students, not failing systems, while breeding competition in education, bringing quality up, and costs down. It would also provide a boon to the education job market.”

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

Districts in our scope in Nevada held elections on June 14. Click the links below to see results. 

Upcoming school board elections

Districts in Texas are holding general runoff elections June 18. Districts in Georgia and Alabama are holding general and primary runoff elections on June 21. Districts in Maryland are holding primaries July 19.

Texas

We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 18.

Georgia

We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 21.

Alabama

We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 21.

Utah

We’re covering primary elections in the following districts on June 28.

Maryland

We’re covering the following school board elections on July 19.

A state breakdown of school board candidates per seat

This year, 2.3 candidates are running for each seat in 968 school board races for which we have completed gathering candidate information. Greater awareness of issues or conflicts around school board governance can cause the number of candidates per seat to increase. Indeed, the 2.3 candidates per seat is 17% more than in 2020. 

The numbers vary significantly by state, however. So far this year, the five states with the highest candidate-to-seat ratios are Nevada, Alabama, Tennessee, Alaska, and Nebraska.

The five states with the lowest candidate-to-seat ratio are New York, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, and California

(Note that this analysis includes the 200 largest districts by student enrollment and any districts that overlap the 100 largest cities in the country. Also, these numbers will change over the course of the year as more filing deadlines pass.)

In four of the five states with the highest candidate-per-seat ratio this year (Nevada is the exception), the ratio is higher this year than in either 2018 or 2020.

However, in the five states with the lowest candidates-to-seat ratios, only one state (Texas) has a higher ratio than it did in 2020 or 2018. 

This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, because the data from 2020 and 2018 includes all the seats up for election in our coverage scope in those years, whereas 2022 data only goes through June 13. We will update and revisit these chart once all the school board elections in our coverage scope are completed. 

For more data on school board elections, including candidates per seat and incumbency success rates, click here. 

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us! 

DeKalb County School District general runoff election survey responses

Today, we’re highlighting survey responses from the upcoming June 21 DeKalb County School District school board general runoff elections in Georgia. Three seats were up for election on May 24, with the top two vote-getting candidates in District 2 and 6 advancing to a runoff. 

The District 2 runoff features Whitney McGinniss and Candice McKinley.

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

“*COVID-19 Safety and Recovery*

As we move beyond COVID-19, it is important to acknowledge that our children have suffered emotionally, socially, and academically over the last two years. I will push for programs designed to address the student wellness and academic gaps created by COVID-19. I will prioritize in-person leaning, ensuring that our schools are safe for students and teachers.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion*

With students from over 155 countries, DCSD is one of the most diverse districts in the nation. Our diversity is one of our unique gifts, but it presents special challenges. I believe all children deserve the opportunity to succeed, regardless their zip code, race, ethnicity, household income, LGBTQ+ identity, immigration or disability status.

  • Building Construction and Maintenance*

The schools in District 2 are some of the oldest in the county, so maintenance and facilities concerns are among our schools’ biggest needs. I have been a vocal facilities advocate, securing millions of dollars of heating and air conditioning repairs and upgrades in 7 DeKalb County school buildings, and I coordinated local efforts to get lead paint removed from Laurel Ridge Elementary School’s aging windows. Our students cannot effectively learn in classrooms that are too hot, too cold, unsafe, or falling apart. I am committed to increasing the quality of school facilities across the county.”

Click here to read the rest of McGinniss’ answers. 

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

“School Safety and Well-Being

Our schools in District #2 need immediate attention to ensure they are safe places for our students. The attention must be on both operational upgrades and intentionality to social and emotional supports inside our schools. When our students come into spaces that are not safe and do not feel safe due to wellness challenges from COVID-19, other mental health issues, or ineffective discipline policies –there is a dire problem. We must act now. Safety and well-being is essential and just as important to our staff who have spent the last two years on the front lines of an education revolution.”

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

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.
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!



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