Collin County Politics: Make Yourselves Heard

April 19, 2022

Covid Update: Collin County has 212,889 confirmed Covid cases. That’s 1,189 more cases than I reported last week and 1,504 of our Collin residents have died (an increase of 3 people). Both cases and death rates decreased. Keep your fingers crossed!

Schools: Do you remember last week’s column in which I talked about “parental empowerment” as the slogan anti-child crusaders use to prevent children from gaining the freedom and services they need? Well, the Texas Public Policy Foundation is proving my point. They’re beginning a Parent Empowerment Tour to galvanize misinformed and stupid voters around issues like CRT and a proposed bill of rights for parents. And remember how I keep telling you their end goal is decimating public education? Guess what their main legislative priority is? If you guessed school choice, then give yourself a prize, because that’s exactly what they’ll be pushing. Another group, ironically named Liberty for the Kids, also is pushing the single issue of empowering parents, especially for school choice. They’re not playing around and the TEA is aiding and abetting them.

Instead of working on real issues plaguing our public schools – you know, like appropriate Covid safety measures, retaining teachers and other essential school personnel, getting rid of STAAR testing, and attending to the mental health needs of students and teachers alike – the TEA had to bow to Greg Abbott’s pressure to make life harder for schools. On Monday, they issued a suggested policy describing how parents and trustees can play a role in deciding what’s appropriate for school libraries. They’re encouraging schools to keep a list of all library materials on the district’s website. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’re not going to pay for the new employees that would be needed to update and maintain this list. They also want a listing of what’s next to be purchased along with semiregular “Parent Previews” before books go onto shelves. Can you imagine the nightmare? You’ve seen the parents yelling at the school board meetings. Do you trust those yahoos to offer good and unbiased suggestions? I certainly don’t!

The TEA also suggested reconsideration committees for contested books. Many districts already have these in place and most of them adhere to the guidelines set out by the 1982 SCOTUS decision in Island Trees School District v. Pico. The decision holds that school boards can’t remove books from campus libraries solely because they don’t like the ideas expressed. Anything vulgar has to be pervasive (key word) in the book before it’s reasonable to remove it. Think back to your days in school. If we removed all books that had sex scenes or controversial ideas, most of them would be gone. That’s why the pervasive aspect is so important.

One of the most outrageous suggestions is that locally elected trustees would be ultimately responsible for all new books added to the library. On a practical level, this just isn’t feasible. Trustees are volunteers who often work full-time in other capacities. They don’t have the time or the expertise for this kind of duty. Professional educators and librarians do though, so they need to be the ones responsible for this duty. It’s a wink and a nod to the scads of hyper-conservative and unethical school board candidates trying to win seats on school boards. Once they’re in place, TEA guidance would mean they can prevent needed books from being bought. It’s a terrifying thought. Can you imagine people like Cody Weaver in Plano or Chad Green in McKinney being in charge of new books? Shudder. If we don’t run our own candidates and show up to vote, that thought could turn into reality.

Commissioner’s Court: Duncan Webb was absent for the 6-minute meeting. Even though I’m irritated by the short meetings (despite all the county’s many problems), I was grateful for it this week because Chris Hill is working my last nerve. First, he sent this stupid email touting the inclusion of Frisco, McKinney, and Plano in the top 10 safest cities by a study done by a financial advising company. The study itself is ridiculous, clearly a ploy to sell more houses in the upscale parts of Texas and California. They even said Frisco and Plano are “relatively affordable.” Uh huh. If that’s true, then why are homes in Collin County more expensive than those in the Austin area, earning us a spot on a list of 26 counties in the nation where housing is no longer affordable? I also wonder why eviction rates skyrocketed in March if we’re so affordable.

Clearly, that study is bunk. But Hill – never one to let facts get in the way of his lies – used it to crow about Collin’s investment in our sheriff, district attorneys, and constables. He provided a helpful graph showing how we’ve spent an additional $30 million since 2016 for these departments. We can’t recruit or retain employees in county positions overall but we keep spending high for those three, (probably because the sheriff’s department has to keep replacing those who leave). I wonder how much additional funding they’ve given for public health (you know, since we’re in a pandemic), healthcare, homelessness (especially with evictions being so high), or infrastructure, just to name a few. Also, I have news for Hill (which happens frequently since he’s so ignorant): there’s a lot more to public safety than just those 3 punitive departments. What about emergency services, transportation, infrastructure, a culture of safety, and yes, public health? All those matter too but you’d never know it from his foolish email.

If you read all the way to the bottom, he also took the opportunity to lash out at his opponent, Josh Murray, and a “liberal agenda” (the horror!). If that wasn’t bad enough, he sent out yet another email today wishing everyone a happy Easter and providing the story of the holiday. In case you’re wondering, this is his campaign email list so he’s free to say whatever he wants on it. The problem though is this: he has no official email list you can access. If you want to get updates on official developments, you must join Hill’s campaign list. I don’t know if this is illegal (Darrell Hale does the same thing) but if it isn’t, it should be. Why should I have to suffer through his nonsense just to remain informed?

Also, if you want a chance to comment on the proposed 380 bypass, now is your chance! Go to this form and let them know your thoughts.

McKinney School Board: McKinney is going to be one of the first stops on the ludicrous Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Parent Empowerment Tour. Thankfully, they’re not going to get a warm welcome from Mayor George Fuller who recently told the Dallas Morning News he was ashamed of the Republican party because “They’re damaging our children, our most precious commodity, and using them as their new pawn.” Preach, brother! I hope he goes even further and encourages people to vote for Democrats up and down the ballot.

Superintendent Rick McDaniel fired his own salvo toward the book banners. In his defense of MISD’s teachers and librarians as well as their well-established reconsideration process, he slammed the yahoos yelling at meetings, accurately pointing out that many have no skin in the game. While most of McDaniel’s statement was great, there was one sentence towards the end that scared me. He mentioned, almost as a throw-away comment (which makes me suspicious), that the district will be evaluating district policy regarding the review and purchase of materials to further ensure the appropriateness of library books and instructional resources. This comes way too close to Representative Jared Paterson’s request for schools not to buy books from vendors that have supplied schools with what the power-hungry lawmakers label obscene. We’ll have to keep watch on that.

We’ll also have to monitor a workshop hosted by MISD Trustee Chad Green and County Commissioner Darrell Hale. They’re charging $10 to teach people how to use the Texas Open Meetings laws to skirt the time limits at school board meetings. Don’t you love how unethical our Republican elected officials are? There’s truly no bottom.

Speaking of: the next MISD board meeting is on April 26th. The Liberal Women of Collin County are planning to go together. I hope many others will join them. The Republicans are definitely going to show up, so we need to as well. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and those wishing to speak must complete a speaker participation form before the meeting. The public comment section will only be 30 minutes long.

Prosper School Board: I hate to keep picking on Prosper ISD but their administration keeps doing stupid things! From an analysis of materials obtained via a Freedom of Information request, it seems plain that Prosper ISD administrators bowed down to the Prosper PAC and they did so without involving the high school librarians or school board members. Community members were told at the Superintendent’s Advisory Council meeting that the district was telling the PAC they had to follow the school board’s policies for reconsideration, submit individual book requests, and reconsideration committees would make the ultimate decision on any individual book that was challenged. What was actually happening was quite different.

Only one reconsideration committee met (to consider All Boys Aren’t Blue) and they decided to keep the book (good call). However, someone reconvened the committee and made them change their decision. Tossing the school board policies and the committee plan out the window, a small group of central administrators “read” all 82 books (which were, incidentally, removed from the libraries completely while they were being reviewed) within a matter of a few days. This is exactly the same kind of behavior that caused Granbury ISD to get into such trouble with the ACLU because it’s illegal based on the 1982 Island Trees School District v. Pico decision I mentioned above.

Lawyer and LWAN member Holly Draper read through the decision and believes the case could almost be written word for word about what is going on in Prosper ISD and around the country. She believes what PISD has done with regard to book banning is unconstitutional and violates the first amendment rights of students in the district. Some tidbits from Pico:

  1. The case arises from the exact same situation we have going on now. A politically conservative organization came up with a list of “objectionable” books and people tried to remove them from school libraries.
  2. The district argued they should be allowed unfettered discretion to “transmit community values” in the schools,” but SCOTUS rejected that argument. They said access to ideas helps prepare students for civic participation. Damn straight it does.
  3. While a school district possesses discretion to determine the content of school libraries, “that discretion may not be exercised in a narrowly partisan or political manner [emphasis mine].” The motivation behind removing books is key. If the district’s removal of books from school libraries is designed to deny access to ideas with which the district representatives disagree, the removal of books violates the Constitution.
  4. This opinion does not impact the discretion of a district to add books to their school libraries. It only addresses the removal of books from school libraries.
  5. The result of the case may have been different if the school district had demonstrated it had unbiased procedures for reviewing controversial materials. The district ignored the advice of literary experts, the views of librarians and teachers within the district, the advice of the superintendent, and the guidance of publications that rate books for junior and senior high school students. The district’s decision was based on the fact that the books were named on a list and it did not undertake an independent review of the books. The superintendent publicly announced that the book contests would have to follow their established reconsideration procedures. The district disregarded that, appointed a book review committee, and then rejected the committee’s recommendations. Sound familiar?

That what these PACS are trying to do is unconstitutional should be another argument we level against them. If these people care so much about “law and order” and “community values,” then they should want to follow the Constitution. There are some other key takeaways from this as well. First, the Prosper central administrators quickly bowed to pressure from a small group of agitators. They need to feel pressure from those of us who believe in freedom and democracy as well. Second, one of the administrators mentioned that the books needed to go because they didn’t reflect “Prosper community conservative values.” As Pico made clear, public schools must be non-partisan. Besides, many people living in Prosper aren’t conservative, so that statement isn’t even accurate.

As I mentioned in the McKinney section, we need to keep an eye on districts that are “re-evaluating” their policies about where they buy their books. Pico only covers books already in school libraries; new books being purchased are at the discretion of the district. This is how they’re going to get around the legality of banning books. Count on the fact that MISD Superintendent Rick McDaniel knows this.

Finally, Prosper parents and community members need to show up and make noise. Let your school board and superintendent know you won’t stand for unconstitutional behavior or the addition of books only approved by a small group of crazies. Most of all, vote for sane school board candidates like Jorden Dial, Kelly Cavender, and Lane Chamblee.

People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote– a very different thing.

Walter H. Judd

Local Politics: Early voting for municipal elections starts on April 25th and goes through May 3rd with Election Day on May 7th. You must vote. If you don’t know who to vote for, ask. We also need to start thinking NOW about who will run for school board in the next cycle. We must stop playing catch-up and start training our candidates now. I don’t normally link to Republican sites but we need to know what we’re up against. They’re organized and ready to inundate school board races with fascist cult members. Fellow Democrats, we must do better.

If we want to save our democracy, each and every one of us must step up and do more. Consider running for office. If you want to become more active in your community, please sign up to join the team covering your city council or school board. Everyone is welcome. All you need to do is contact me at and let me know you’re interested.

Comments 4

  1. Good writing as usual, Misty. Note the May 7 election also includes two state constitution amendments regarding property taxes. See for links to descriptions of the propositions as well as short videos describing them. (The party web site and this blog may give folks the impression they have nothing to vote for if there are not school board or city races local to where they live. Instead, every single voter has something to vote on this time.)

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  2. Your blogs are always so cheery and full of good news. NOT. But the problem lies with the corruption (Prosper ISD, what in the world are you doing behind closed doors?) and extremism (please, TEA, stop bowing to the most extreme among us and instead support your education professionals … remember the head of the TEA is not an educator (although he was a sub once)).

    Thank you for keeping us aware.

  3. The Local Politics section should make everyone’s democracy alarms go off. Hit both links. If you do not know No Left Turn and Leadership Institute you should. Read their entire sites to uncover at least a dozen fascist dog whistles behind beguiling language masking authoritarian propaganda. Misty Hook. Paul Revere. Same.

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