State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands) filed a measure that would require school board candidates to run as members of a political party.

As clashes over explicit books and radical ideologies in Texas’ public schools intensify, Toth’s legislation, House Bill 221, would force school board candidates to include their party affiliation on the ballot when running in an election. Candidates could also declare that they do not back any party.

Traditionally, Texas has not required school board candidates to disclose on the ballot which political party they support.

The measure also calls for districts to hold school board elections on the same day as the general election for state and county officials. Under current Texas law, school districts can hold elections for trustees at the same time as city officials, the governing body of a hospital district, or the governing board of a public junior college.

Additionally, Toth’s legislation would mandate four-year terms for all school board trustees in the state. Some Texas school district trustees serve staggered three-year terms, so not all candidates are up for election at once. Toth’s measure would require biennial elections with half the board up for election every other year.

The legislation would also require political parties to nominate school board candidates through a primary election or convention.

Although school board elections in Texas have traditionally been non-partisan, recent controversies surrounding explicit books in school libraries and the promotion of radical gender ideology and critical race theory in public schools have galvanized parents in school districts across the state.

School districts across Texas saw a wave of local parents running against long-entrenched candidates in protest of corruption, mismanagement, and financial irresponsibility in their children’s schools. While some pro-family candidates faced defeat, others won seats on their local school board and promised to promote transparency and protect children from indoctrination.

When endorsing pro-family candidates earlier this year, the Republican Party of Texas referred to school board races as the state’s “new election battleground in Texas” and drew attention to parents’ concerns with inappropriate materials and radical ideologies in schools.

“Education and parents’ rights are at the forefront of Texans’ minds and the Texas GOP’s platform,” the RPT said. “Local elections for school boards can no longer be considered ‘non-partisan.’ Parents across Texas are increasingly concerned about political indoctrination in the classroom.”

On social media, Toth drew attention to his legislation’s importance, highlighting a campaign video of the American Library Association’s president, self-described Marxist Emily Drabinski, promoting her “organizing experience” alongside photos of herself at protests.

“Why do we need partisan elections for school boards?” Toth posted. “Meet the new American Library Association President, Emily Drabinski. Her world view displaces Leadership for Activism. Leave Activism Out of The Classroom. Parents have a right to know where a board stands on these issues.”

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.