During last year’s parental empowerment debate, many Texas ISDs got politically active and used government resources to rally the public against legislative proposals, going so far as to say:
- “We must let our legislators know that we stand behind them and expect them to vote NO on vouchers.”
- “The voucher proposals undermine taxpayer accountability…Using public taxpayer dollars to finance private institutions having no public accountability conflicts with our community’s values.”
As if that were not enough, now one school district—Frisco ISD—is prompting the public to get involved in political primaries. Earlier this month, the district’s government affairs department announced on social media that it was partnering with another big government group—the Frisco Area Retired School Personnel—to conduct a voter registration drive in advance of the March primaries since: “Public Education is ALWAYS on the ballot, especially during the primaries.”
The complete post can be found below.
Whether this violates Section 255.003 of the Election Code depends on how public authorities, such as the Texas Ethics Commission or the courts, ultimately define and interpret terms like “measure” and “political advertising.” But whatever the case, Frisco ISD’s politically motivated post reinforces two key concerns that conservatives have long held:
- Existing laws are not enough to deter school districts from getting political, signaling an obvious need for stronger protections and greater enforcement; and
- Texas local governments are tipping the scales in their collective favor through a variety of different means, including through the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying, electioneering, indoctrination, and more.
These twin concerns have lingered for far too long, much to the detriment of conservatism and commonsense. It’s critical the next Texas Legislature take meaningful action to put a stop to this bad behavior and make it clear public schools exist to educate students, not play politics.
Let’s hope they make it a priority.