AUSTIN — Some state lawmakers and North Texas school board trustees are calling for an exodus from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) following months of controversy over the organization’s alleged left-wing bias.
At a press conference held at the Capitol on Monday, Rep. Nate Schatzline (R-Fort Worth) put a spotlight on the Carroll Independent School District (CISD), praising its board members for voting to let its TASB membership lapse at the end of the year, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.
“They’ve led the fight against [critical race theory] and indoctrinating kids in schools. They’ve taken a stand for parental rights, and just recently, I believe this last week, they actually courageously left [TASB] and said we’re going to do our own thing and make sure that the livelihood and education of our students is put first over indoctrination,” said Schatzline.
He claimed that TASB services, which include school board member training and a litany of other offerings, have taken on a political bent.
He said that the organization was training members to fight for social justice. He also referred to guidance TASB gave to Texas teachers, encouraging them to call students by their preferred pronouns without informing parents.
CISD Board President Cameron Bryan also spoke at the event, defending the board majority’s move to drop TASB.
“As locally elected officials, not only do we have a [fiduciary] responsibility but [we] also must be mindful of and responsive to the values that our community holds,” Bryan said. “Sending our community taxpayer dollars to an organization that pushes the very ideologies that our community overwhelmingly rejected in the last three elections would be disingenuous to those that have entrusted us to represent them.”
Speakers made multiple mentions of how a portion of taxpayer dollars in the form of dues and fees paid to TASB by member districts pay for lobbying state lawmakers to oppose school choice legislation and promote pro-LGBT accommodations at public schools.
“TASB actively works against parents. They currently, as I speak, are actively opposing parental empowerment and school choice. They are working to keep students trapped in failing schools and worse,” said Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian).
Harrison went on to state that he had filed a bill that, if enacted, would prohibit school districts from giving taxpayer money to or entering into a contract with a non-profit organization that employs any lobbyists.
Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) was also in attendance, and he called on all of the school board trustees in his house district to follow CISD’s example.
“I’m calling on you to do the right thing by the hardworking taxpayers and families of District 128 to leave the Texas Association of School Boards,” Cain said.
During the press conference, The Dallas Express asked whether any of the speakers could comment on TASB’s claims that its policy services would be difficult to replicate. Bryan took to the podium and acknowledged that it might be hard to find replacements but that alternatives were already starting to materialize.
“When we, Carroll [ISD], had that vote [to leave TASB], people started coming out of the woodwork in terms of businesses. ‘How can we help you? What services do you need? We are ready and willing to give you a cost-fair approach to obtain those services,” Bryan said.
“This is capitalism. There’s free-market services out there that will compete, even with the big guys,” he added.
The Dallas Express reached out to TASB for comment on the press conference, the calls for other ISDs to leave, and Harrison’s proposed legislation.
A spokesperson for the organization accused the officials at the press conference of using misinformation and disinformation to malign TASB and weaken Texans’ faith in public education.
“In fact, many of these lawmakers are pushing a pro-voucher agenda to divert public tax dollars to private schools that have absolutely no taxpayer accountability or requirements,” the spokesperson claimed.
The spokesperson stated further:
“Throughout our history, TASB has stepped in and developed non-profit programs and services to lessen the burden of government on independent districts so that they may more efficiently and effectively serve their students and save taxpayers money … We welcome scrutiny and competition and stand by our commitment to serving our members so that they have the tools, products, and services to better serve their school district communities.”