In schools across the state, administrators and school board members are encouraging their employees to vote in the upcoming elections. But while these may appear to be a move towards good citizenship they’re actually something more sinister—government electioneering.
The efforts seem innocuous, such as this video featuring Robin Ryan from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD in North Texas, which encourages educators to vote. But keen observers will notice that something is off at the very beginning.
In the first minute the video includes a “vote” graphic that appears to be based on Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. A later video from the same district employee announces that the district will begin a #WeAreGCISD social media campaign on the first Tuesday of every month—dates that directly correspond with both the upcoming November 7 election and the Republican primary in March 2018.
And borrowing from their union friends across the nation they’re implementing their own form of the card check system—a “neutral” purple wristband emblazoned with We Are GCISD on one side and #GCISDVotes on the other that employees are “encouraged” to wear.
The move is likely in response to the growing effort of teachers and administrators across the state to, not only promise to vote in every election, but to #BlockVote against candidates who support school choice and pro-parent education reforms.
“We’re not going to be encouraging specific Democrat or Republican candidates, but we will be encouraging staff to research each candidate and vote for the one who supports our students and our profession,” he says. “The person who is pro-public education.”
In the video, GCISD’s employee directs teachers to a partisan website where they can find out who is “pro-public education.”
The website? It belongs to “Texans for Public Education.”
A quick visit to the website reveals that it is little more than an anti-education reform group that encourages members to “block vote” against mainstream Republicans. In their own words:
“We’re a group of people who are sick of what the politicians are doing with our school system, so we’re taking it back using something they understand very well. We’re block voting, and that’s a very personal decision with which we want every member comfortable.
Second, check out the recommendations posted for voting. Every state race has been researched and documented for you. We, as a group, vote for those in green when we can and vote against those in red when we can.”
So who are those “unfriendly” politicians in red? Well they’re all Republicans.
Topping the list are Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and every Republican member of the Texas Senate save Kel Seliger (R—Amarillo). Here’s why the group labeled Abbott as “unfriendly:”
Meanwhile the entry for State Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R—Bedford) is extensive, but apparently the decision to classify him as “Unfriendly” was a rather easy one for TPE.
“Not even going to get into his voting record. Here’s all needed to know to classify as unfriendly: home schooler,” the website writes.
Meanwhile, not a single Democrat lawmaker in the entire state is rated “Unfriendly.” Indeed, the vast majority are rated as “Friendly” and only a select few are deemed to be “Neutral.”
But it’s even more than that. TPE’s Facebook page is riddled with political maneuverings of career focused bureaucrats that require defeating Republican lawmakers and electing some Democrats.
And one which claims all candidates endorsed by Empower Texans “must be defeated in the primaries.”
So much for GCISD’s claim to be bipartisan. Then again, the group does encourage Democrats to vote in the Republican primary in order to defeat Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Much like the affiliate group Pastors for Texas Children, which was also uncovered recently by the Texas Scorecard as a front group for Democrats in a Facebook Live special report.
Proving just why conservative activists should demand that lawmakers support closed primaries, members of the group are encouraging one another to “vote in the Republican primary regardless of who you vote for in the general.”
Members of the “nonpartisan” group also encourage Democrats to vote in the GOP primary to “take OUT the ‘Republicans’ (Tea Party/extremists).”
Neither Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, nor any other ISD should be using taxpayer resources for blatant and brazen political advertising that supports and opposes some candidates and ballot initiatives.
The Texas Election Code defines political advertising as a communication that advocates a particular outcome in an election. Officers and employees of political subdivisions are prohibited from knowingly spending, or authorizing the expenditure of, public funds for political advertising. Tex. Elec. Code § 255.003.
In addition, the Texas Education Code provides that “the board of trustees of an independent school district may not use state or local funds or other resources of the district to electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.” Tex. Educ. Code § 11.169.
Both of these statutory prohibitions restrict the use of public resources—including public funds, employee time, school district facilities, equipment, and technology—to support or oppose candidates on the ballot.
Yet that’s just what school districts all over the state are preparing to do.
Led by the Texas Association of School Boards, a legion of unions and liberal organizations are banding together to promote a “Culture of Voting” resolutions that school boards can adopt that go as far as to encourage ISD’s to use school buses and other taxpayer resources to ferry teachers to the polls in a wink-wink-nod-nod attempt to ensure they support their preferred candidates.
Not only should Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fully investigate these efforts and hold elected officials and government employees breaking the law responsible, but taxpayers should rise up and demand better from their public officials.