In all districts aside from Chicago, local school board elections will be held on April 4, 2023. School board races are critical for how education is shaped at the most local level in Illinois because through their policy and spending decisions, local boards can make a huge impact. Unfortunately, school board races in many districts are now proxy wars for bigger forces, and voters must do their research before heading to their polls.
We need school board members who will tackle the real problems schools face—lack of funding, mental health supports, services for students with disabilities, the teacher shortage—and are looking for solutions that can benefit all the students in a district.
What do we mean by "bigger forces"? School board candidates around the state are being supported by national dark money orgs, partnering with state and local groups, and pushing an anti-equality, anti-democracy, anti-public school agenda:
- These groups espouse transphobia and homophobia.
- These groups oppose teaching a full and accurate history for all students.
- These groups have engaged in harassment of school board members and teachers.
- These groups have pushed for book bans, in some cases successfully.
- These groups oppose age-appropriate, inclusive sex education.
- These groups don’t represent the views of most parents and community members
What's at stake in this election cycle is whether our schools are safe and nurturing educational environments for all students and families. Those funding extremist parent orgs are part of a national movement to discredit public education with a broader goal of privatizing public schools and destroying a pluralistic, small d-democratic society that works for all.
Voters and parents, do your homework, ask questions and demand answers! What are candidates saying, who's funding them, who’s training them, and what is their vision for a public school district that will serve all kids and the public good?
Here's some places to start your research:
- IL-FPS directory of some of the dark money anti-public school groups on the ground in Illinois. This is not comprehensive, but it's a jumping off point as you are researching who is on your ballot and what their values are.
- IL-FPS guide to working towards more racially just districts and schools. It has a list of questions to ask about about policies and practices that support racial justice at the classroom, school and district level. Find out where candidates stand on education equity issues.
- Candidate questionnaires and forums: League of Women Voters sponsors non-partisan forums in many districts and also creates voter guides. Their VOTE411 site lets you look up candidates on your ballot when you fill in your address.
- Local and state media have been covering some of these races. We'll update this list as we get closer to the election:
Daily Herald: Suburban school board races heat up over library books, sex ed (3.27.23)
- Campaign disclosures: The Illinois Board of Elections and Reform for Illinois have databases of campaign committee funding. Look for who is giving to candidates and who the candidates themselves have donated to. IL Board of Elections is more comprehensive, but Reform for IL's IL Sunshine site is a bit more user-friendly.
- Endorsements: Which people and organizations have endorsed candidates in your district? Look for PACs, political organizations; teachers union locals and other unions; local elected officials, including sitting board members. Note: Endorsements help provide a picture of your candidates' values and policy stances. Not all endorsements are positive, i.e. some may be more useful in researching who not to vote for. If you know of a public endorsement list, not included here, get in touch: [email protected]
|Suburban Chicago newspaper editorial board
|Record North Shore
|New Trier HSD 203 and Winnetka 36 candidate guide
|Unit 5 Education Association
|McLean County Unit 5 school district teachers union local
|Glenbard Education Association
|Glenbard Township HSD 87 teachers union local
|Huntley Education Association
|Huntley D158 teachers and support personnel locals
|Niles Township HSD 219 teachers union local
|Illinois Federation of Teachers
|List of IFT locals' endorsements
|Progressive political org making endorsements in the suburbs
|Progressive group advocating against book bans endorsing in school and library races
|Illinois' largest LGBTQ+ rights advocacy org's listing of All Families, All Students Pledge signers
|Democratic Party of Evanston
|Evanston D65 and D202
|Niles Township Democrats United
|Fairview D72, Niles Township HSD 219, Lincolnwood Library
|Democratic Party of Illinois
|Positive and anti-endorsements for some Illinois districts
|Muslim Civic Coalition Activate
|501c4 sister-org of the Muslim Civic Coalition
|Anti-LBGTQ+, pro-book-ban, anti-sex-ed group (see Dark Money Directory); Spreadsheet here (web archive link may not load images correctly)
|Dan Proft - Morning Answer
|Far-right radio host and pink-slime news king's endorsements. Spreadsheet here with comparison with Awake
|1776 Project PAC
|National anti-CRT PAC (see Dark Money Directory)
|Moms for America Action
|National 501c4 (see Dark Money Directory)
|Oswego D308 - Awake Illinois chapter (see Dark Money Directory)
|Awake Niles Township
|Niles Township high school, elementary districts and library boards - Awake Illinois chapter (see Dark Money Directory)
|We the Parents Illinois
|Will County, including Homer Glen, Lockport, Crest Hill, org; endorsements overlap Moms for America Action
|McHenry County Citizens for Lower Taxes
|Huntley D158 - PAC funded by Catalina Lauf, far-right former congressional candidate, and run by national Republican campaign finance operative Thomas Datwyler
Questions about where, when and how to vote? The 866 Election Protection Illinois site is our go-to or call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683).