This week, you may have heard encouraging news out of Colorado. Three extremists on a local school board were ousted by the voters in a recall election that attracted as much as $1 million in funding. For a local school board, not a statewide board. Have no doubt, this was a major victory for teachers and education activists, and a defeat for the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.
How did this happen? What can we learn about it that will help here, in Kansas?
First, it is important to recognize that this was an effort on the part of Americans for Prosperity (AFP) to hijack a local board. Their strategy has shifted from solely state level legislation, to focus as well on local municipal and county races. They have brought their organizational weight to bear on this and other local races, and in this case, they lost.
- How The Koch Brothers Are Organizing Against Your Local Zoo, Transit And School Board - Huffington Post
And that's the other point. AFP lost. The extremists lost. Despite the weight of their money behind the incumbents, the teachers and parents of Jefferson County organized, educated, and won. Over 2,000 volunteers worked to engage voters in the recall election, and turnout was over 40%. Organizers are crediting that turnout for the end result.
- In Denver suburb, a school board race morphs into $1 million ‘proxy war’ - Washington Post
- Conservative school board members ousted in bitter Colorado battle - Washington Post
- Jeffco voters choose recall; incumbents losing in DougCo school race - Denver Post
In Kansas, we have our share of extremists making waves in local races. The state-level Board of Education races ten years ago were one thing, and MainStream and others banded together then to turn them back and bring common sense back to Kansas education standards. But just last year, we saw Kansans for Life arguing that pro-life positions were crucial to school board elections. School board elections?
This is what we are up against, and we intend to win. In 2016, we will use these same winning strategies, we will educate, and advocate, and work to elect candidates that share the values of most Kansans. We have seen that it works.