Texas School First to Leave Tax-Funded Lobbying Group - Texas Scorecard

A North Texas school has become the first to leave the state’s tax-funded lobbying group for school boards—not for its part in asking federal authorities to target outspoken parents as domestic terrorists, but because Texans don’t want their money going to groups that actively lobby against them.

On Monday, Life School of Dallas said it would not be renewing its 2022 membership in the Texas Association of School Boards.

The public charter school said it didn’t want to keep funding TASB’s “strong adversarial position” lobbying the Texas Legislature “against charter schools and school choice in general.”

“I never really understood why charters continue to pay dues to them when they actively work against charter schools,” tweeted Tamoria Jones. Jones is chief of staff to State Rep. Harold Dutton (D–Houston), who chairs the House Public Education Committee.

“I wouldn’t pay into an organization where they use the money to fight against me,” Jones added.

Yet that’s exactly what Texas taxpayers are doing, as long as their local school districts stay in TASB.

TASB is a voluntary association for school board officials that claims all 1,024 Texas school districts as members. According to its website, TASB “represents school district interests.” Those interests often conflict with the interests of students, parents, and taxpayers.

Dues are paid with local school property tax dollars, and TASB sends some of those dollars to the National School Boards Association.

The NSBA became notorious last year for comparing parents’ protests at school board meetings—against policies like mask mandates, critical race theory, sexually explicit books in school libraries, and boys in girls’ bathrooms—to “domestic terrorism.”

NSBA President Viola Garcia, who co-signed the letter asking the Biden administration to investigate outspoken parents, is a TASB member and past president.

The NSBA later disavowed the letter, but it shone a national spotlight on what many Texas parents had already experienced: local school boards trying to silence parents’ complaints about district policies.

State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Waxahachie) applauded Life School’s decision to leave TASB.

Last month, Harrison sent a letter to every school board in his Texas House District 10, asking them to stop sending his constituents’ tax dollars to TASB until it severs ties with the NSBA, which also opposes school choice.

He said taxpaying parents in Texas are being forced to subsidize an organization “which then weaponizes their tax money against them.”

The Texas Freedom Caucus and a group of Republican congressmen have also urged TASB to exit the national organization. At least 18 other state affiliates have already left the NSBA.

The Texas GOP has gone further, also calling on local school districts to “sever ties with TASB in order to protect Texas children and the voices of parents.”

The Republican Party of Texas opposes tax dollars being sent by local ISDs to TASB and NSBA, which both have promoted Critical Race Theory and have opposed Parental Rights.

None of the state’s independent school districts have left TASB yet, but Texas parents are asking whether membership in the lobbying group is a good use of their tax dollars.

Meanwhile, TASB is already planning its next round of tax-funded lobbying to benefit Texas school board members, who are still aligned with the NSBA.