The recent vote to rewrite textbooks by the conservative dominated Texas State Board of Education has received a great deal of attention over the last few days. The lesson that we as progressives need to take away from it is one that conservatives internalized long ago: people that are elected to “downballot” races can have a lot of power in shaping the direction of our communities, states, and the country as a whole.
The textbook industry is dominated by a few large states. One of the most important is Texas. Since the mission of textbook companies is to sell books, they cater their content to the whims of those states that have large enough markets to make demands. What this means is that the Texas State Board of Education is really setting textbook standards for a large portion of the country.
In the past we have mostly focused on the big prizes: the White House, U.S. House and Senate, and governorships. Downballot races don’t get anywhere near the attention, especially outside their respective jurisdictions. As we now see, there are many students outside of the state of Texas that will be directly affected by what at its surface appeared to be a local election.
If you realize that the Texas State Board of Education ruling is not just a local issue and you want to help, here are some things you can do:
- Support the Texas Freedom Network, an organization that specifically fights the religious right’s attempts to hijack education.
- Follow Democratic candidates for the Texas State Board of Education like Rebecca Bell-Metereau (@voterebecca) and Judy Jennings (@VoteJudyJ). You can donate to these Democratic candidates via ActBlue.
Stand with Texas progressives to shift the control of the State Board of Education, and remember that these local races are local in name only and affect us all.