School board elections are crucial. They have always been important, but in a time of increased censorship, with big money funding campaigns by right-wing activists at the local board level and newly-elected board members choosing to overreach in their power to remove books, there has never been a more vital time in American history to know who is representing your tax money and values.
While we know what school boards do, how do we know the rest of what is necessary to elect qualified, competent individuals for school boards? What if you happen to be a person interested in running for school board?
Enter The School Board Project.
Thanks to the help of volunteers and partners, we’re building a massive database of every school board, school board election, and related information for anyone to access. This simple database provides information that is challenging to find in isolation, let alone in a large, collective, searchable, and sortable way. Because this is the work of a small group of individuals with limited time, it is and will be a slow process, but we’ll release information in batches. The methodology for determining which states to prioritize is both an art and a science: these are states with high censorship rates, active censorship groups, and upcoming elections worth preparing for, either as a voter or a candidate.
The School Board Project allows anyone to download the spreadsheets and add any relevant information that helps them. For example: individuals or groups may include the names and stances of those running for boards in the sheet to help guide voters and/or as a means of tracking the kind of topics that are producing the most discussion in those districts. It can be useful for those considering a run for school board to collect information about what they need to do to become eligible or how long they have to prepare for a run. The possibilities here are wide open.
Because of how challenging it is to collect all of this information, it is possible there are errors in the number of seats being elected, but we’ve done the best we can with the resources that are publicly available. The states with data available are Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia from round one of the project, and the release of Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming in this round two.
To use the School Board Project, you’ll need to open the document and save a copy. You can work from that copy and manipulate the information as appropriate for you.
Book Censorship News: July 29, 2022
- Let’s launch with a nice story since the rest aren’t really that. In St. Tammany Parish (LA), there was a lot of support for this year’s Pride display. Showing up and writing in support really does matter.
- “Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters tweeted pages of a book that revealed graphic text and images that were reportedly uncovered in a Tulsa Public Schools library.” You will be shocked to know that the Secretary of Education was quote tweeting a hate account.
- The Curry County, Oregon, board of directors is demanding the county’s five public libraries remove books they believe are pornographic from shelves.
- In Madison County, Mississippi, schools, parents are demanding a list of every book in the libraries so they can see what’s there.
- I have a feeling it’s not just Idaho that’s preparing for this year’s oncoming wave of book bans in schools.
- “In a petition for an emergency injunction, Robert Louis Craft requested a judge to order law enforcement to remove a list of books from Sarasota County Schools and called for a grand jury investigation.” Prepare to see this happening everywhere this year. Drain the school systems with lawsuits and lawyer fees and you’ll see even more damaging effects, furthering the narrative of “ineffective government schools.”
- See, for example, the parents filing a lawsuit in Tennessee over school curriculum they don’t like.
- In Clay County, Florida, one man has filed complaint forms over 60 books. He is a proud member of No Left Turn.
- My “favorite” thing about these parents who claim they aren’t trying to ban books is that when the books DO get banned, they celebrate. Anyway, here’s an ongoing challenge in Catawba County Schools (NC) and the parent who believes she knows best. This district has removed books from her complaints.
- In Antioch, Illinois, where Gender Queer was challenged in the schools and ultimately reinstated, parents tried to get it removed from sale from a small indie bookstore. That won’t be happening, fortunately, but it will only further embolden the new Moms For Liberty group in the county (currently working to get the book banned down the road in Barrington schools).
- “Michael Lunsford, a conservative activist who leads the Lafayette-based Citizens for a New Louisiana, pondered why so many “political activists” showed up when the public notice for the meeting was so vague. He seemed to suggest some outside organization had mobilized people to attend the meeting.” So a member of this group who purposefully tries to ban books was mad people showed up to a meeting against banning books. This story is truly bizarre, as the entire story begins with an unnamed government official demanding the removal of several books in Livingston Parish Library (LA).
- The radicalized right is also attacking drag story time events in the UK.
- In the San Diego, California, area, LGBTQ+-affirming books used to be regularly donated to the schools without problems. Now, in Solana Beach School District, those books may never see shelves thanks to radicalized parents.
- “Riley is the founder of the Liberty or Lose Political Action Committee, which supports Montana candidates with conservative values. One of the PAC’s 2022 action items includes electing community members to library boards, city council and law enforcement agencies, and Riley’s wife, Samantha, stated her intention to apply for the open trustee seat vacated by Sultz.” Continued outstanding reporting from Micah Drew on the state of the ImagineIF libraries in Kalispell, Montana.
- More of this is necessary: in Hanover, Virginia, school board members are appointed, rather than elected. The NAACP has stepped in demanding these appointees get some training on DEI, particularly after using hate group “proof” as reason to remove books from school shelves.
- In Polk County, Florida, parents will need to opt-in their students so they can access 16 books Moms For Liberty doesn’t like. That’s opt-in, not opt-out. The default is they’re not allowed to access the books.
- Some parents in Laramie County School District (WY) want books to be opt-in, not opt-out in the school library. Again: default is restriction.
- Necessary reading on challenges to comic books and why there needs to be more — and continued — discussion of this format and why it gets challenged.
- LGBTQ+ books about being challenged by a pastor in Harrison County public libraries (Mississippi). Don’t get him wrong, though: he wants to make sure “both sides” of the issue are heard.
Finally, a must-read from librarian Alex Brown on why libraries need to stop being neutral in the face of human rights violations.
Also In This Story Stream
- Who Are The Groups Banning Books Near You?: Book Censorship News, September 23, 2022
- A Banned Books Week Action List: Book Censorship News, September 16, 2022
- How to Run for School Board: Book Censorship News, September 9, 2022
- How To Create A Good Banned Books Display: Book Censorship News, September 2, 2022
- States That Have Enacted Book Ban Laws: Book Censorship News, August 26, 2022
- Defending the Right to Read: Book Censorship News, August 19, 2022
- How To Find and Develop a Local Anti-Censorship Group: Book Censorship News, August 12, 2022
- A Template for Talking with School and Library Boards About Book Bans: Book Censorship News, August 5, 2022
- What Would Help You Fight Book Bans?: Book Censorship News, July 22, 2022