Area voters repel extreme candidates in some May 7 school board elections, elect them in others.

The results are in and the message in suburban communities in our area is clear: bringing communities together is key to electing candidates who are focused on student success, teacher retention and equity rather than the disinformation-driven politics of exclusion. In Pflugerville ISD, current PISD Board President and incumbent Renae Mitchell was re-elected over a challenger who in 2019 tweeted repeatedly to former president Donald Trump, while referring to ‘illegals’ and ‘gun-grabbing liberals’. And newcomer Alissa Molina, a former teacher with deep ties to the educator community, unseated the incumbent who last fall made the controversial motion to refuse to accept teacher resignations tendered due to hazardous working conditions created by COVID. Across town in wealthy Eanes ISD (home of Westlake HS), voters rallied around two incumbents who have been charting a steady course through the “ed-scare” tactics of well-funded groups wanting to ban 100’s of books and block Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives. Some Austin-area suburbs have not been so successful, however. Dripping Springs voters narrowly elected candidates with ties to anti-public school lobbyist organization Texas Public Policy Foundation and the national far-right extremist group Turning-Point USA – in one race with a margin of just 61 votes.

Frank Strong, PhD is an Austin-based public school teacher, writer and anti book-banning advocate who has been tracking the recent targeting of Texas public school boards by extremist groups. In his May 8th analysis of the May 7 election results, he gives the following advice:

– Find On-the-Ground Groups. The biggest success stories, Eanes & Richardson ISDs, have in common really good, big, established, on-the-ground organizing groups […] What lesson can we take from that? If I were in a district with a school board race in November, this week I would look for a group like Eanes 4 Equity and Richardson ISD Families for Equity or Lake Highlands Area Moms Against Racism. And I would invite all of my friends to join. And if I couldn’t find such a group, I would start one.

Access Education RRISD is a local, grassroots organization of engaged, concerned Round Rock ISD parents and community members organizing in our school district. We have been working for nearly a year now to recruit, support and elect school board trustees who share our values: Safe Access for All, Equitable Practices, Student Outcomes, Community Voice and Data-Driven Decisions.

We can elect leaders who will keep Round Rock ISD focused on what matters, but it will take many of us working together between now and then. The extreme groups targeting our district are nationally funded. They have and will continue to use questionable tactics. They will continue to intimidate, misinform, waste our time and resources, and exploit people’s fears and prejudices. The only way to ensure their candidates are not elected, is to do the hard work of organizing to engage, to inform and to empower our community to show up for our students in November. Please consider how you are able to help.

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