At SURJ, we believe that every kid deserves access to quality public education and a school where they feel safe and supported. This is why we launched our campaign “All In for All Students,” which brought together parents and community leaders to rally around school board candidates and school board initiatives that support healthy learning environments for ALL students – no matter their race, zip code, or who they want to take to prom. Across the country, the far right has been attempting to garner local power through organizing school boards around transphobia and racism, and so we need to organize white people through a different paradigm: building a cross class, multiracial majority that offers welcoming, well-resourced classrooms for every child.
This work was national and local. Nationally, we launched remote cohorts of support where anyone from anywhere could tap in to learn about how to push local school boards to support all students through an online training series and coaching. Cohorts were trained in campaign planning and organizing skills, storytelling, and press work. We brought people in from twelve states through our Letter to the Editor and Spokesperson trainings and supported members in writing, submitting, and publishing Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds. We had these get published across the United States – from Ohio, to New York, to Kentucky, to Wisconsin.
We focused our on-the-ground efforts of “All In for All Students” in Ohio and Kentucky. In Ohio, we threw down in six school board elections where candidates aligned with MAGA and the group “Moms for Liberty”, a far right parents’ group that advocates for banning books and banning honest conversations about the history of racism, were running. In these six elections, we had FIVE candidates win.
Of the six candidates we supported, two were already SURJ members: Lindsey Wyckoff in North Canton and Lizett Schreiber in Olentangy! Both candidates won, as did both candidates from Westerville: Jennifer Aultman and Louise Valentine. In Dublin, Amy Messick won, and Diva Sonya came in third to the incumbent in an incredibly tough six candidate race.
Here’s our impact in OH by the numbers:
Total Callers: 64 individual callers who signed up for 131 shifts!
Total calls we made together: 33,129!
Conversations w/ voters: 1,452!
Supporters identified: 1,367!
Total “yes” votes we secured for our candidates: 762!
In Kentucky we organized around mitigating the harmful effects of SB 150 – a controversial, anti-LGBTQ+ bill regulating students’ pronoun usage, bathroom usage, and access to lifesaving healthcare. School districts were able to interpret how to implement the bill, and our Louisville SURJ chapter threw down to mitigate the harm of JCPS’s interpretation – which is the largest and most influential school district in the state of Kentucky. We were able to get a very strong resolution passed that mitigates some of the harmful aspects of SB 150, which was modeled after the work of one of our national partners, HEAL. Our success testifies to the power of local organizing and how we can fight what they tell us is inevitable – because we, as a community, get to decide what is inevitable for us and ours.
Our local work in Ohio and Kentucky will continue on the ground in 2024, and several national cohort members will be running school board campaigns in 2024.