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Texarkana ISD bond election is scaring Conservatives - as Democrats seek rare local win with enormous school spending

Oct 25, 2022

Democrats in Texarkana, Texas, have seen discouraging election results in the last two decades. However, members of the Democratic Party believe that Texarkana ISD's massive $189 million bond election ($365 million including 30-year amortized interest) could provide a rare victory for progressive-leaning Democrats who value education.

Last fall, Red River County Democratic Party chair Hunter Evans helped secure a victory for Clarksville ISD's bond election after registering 64 new voters. It made a difference because voters approved the bond proposal by just 59 votes.

Unprecedented spending

One Downtown Texarkana merchant told Texarkana News: "I don't advertise my politics too much, but this bond election is big for Democrats in Texarkana because we have a superintendent who is a true believer in racial equity. Truthfully, I cannot really afford an additional $650 on my property taxes between my business and home property taxes, but I will happily cast my ballot in support of the spending we need for our schools."

Democrats have been drawn to Texarkana ISD's bond election plan because of its bold spending for a big public project similar to the "Build Back Better" proposals by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. However, this is also why many local Republicans are skeptical of TISD's $189 million spending proposal.

Previously, the most significant spending on a bond election in Bowie County was $39 million, and TISD's biggest-ever bond election was $29 million. So the current TISD bond election is 6.5 times greater than any previous one. And this may be why Democrats love it and Republicans don't.

A controversial superintendent

While the political affiliation of Supt. Doug Brubaker is unknown; he used his final months in Arkansas at Fort Smith ISD in 2020 to push racial equity causes before he came to Texarkana ISD in January 2021. Following the death of George Floyd, he gave a passionate racial equity speech at the beginning of a school board meeting that seemed to leave Board members in stunned silence. At the end of his tenure in Fort Smith, Brubaker made another big push for his equity concerns with a school name change.

In Texarkana (August 2021),  Brubaker approved tens of thousands of dollars of spending by Texarkana ISD for a Seattle racial equity organization that provides a liaison to TISD, which works with the school district to change the mindsets of Texas High School staff and faculty members by suggesting books such as "Things That Make White People Uncomfortable" and "White Fragility." Click here to see more suggested books.

It shocked many parents that the school district is sending photos, class schedules, grades, class changes, and more of every Texas High student to the far left organization. In an April 2022 video with TISD academic director Holly Tucker, a representative of the organization said all liaisons sent to work with schools are social justice advocates. Click here to read more

Supt. Doug Brubaker has also faced criticism for hiding the school district's participation with the Seattle racial equity group, and he has refused to answer questions about it from Texarkana News for almost 150 days. Click here to read the questions

Republican concern about school district electioneering

The big spending and election tricks have worried some Republicans, and other public officials are concerned about Northeast Texas school resources being used to push bond elections.

Texarkana, Texas's representative in Congress, Pat Fallon, shares the concerns about high spending in Northeast Texas school districts and issued a statement about it. He said: "Our taxpayers and parents are entitled to have their schools focus on our children's education, not pushing for school bonds."

Fallon added: The tax money we give our schools is supposed to be spent on the task at hand—educating our children. All their efforts should be spent shaping the future of our next generation, not pushing political candidates or bond issues."

The congressman added: "[We] know that most would never use school resources for electioneering. But we have some administrators who can't resist the temptation to use public equipment or work time to push for their cause. That isn't right, and it can't be allowed to continue."

Voters will decide

TISD has used some tricks to mislead voters by promising safety and security spending in the bond election that had already been approved and paid for in June 2022. Click here to read more. Voters may not look too kindly on being fooled if enough of them find out about it - because the security issues will be put in place even if the bond election fails.

In the meantime, Democrats in Texarkana are buoyed by the possibility of winning the TISD bond election and securing votes for congressional candidate Jrmar Jefferson of Texarkana.

At the same time, many Republicans are privately sharing concerns about giving hundreds of millions to a person they believe to be a "woke superintendent" with a "feckless Board of Trustees."

Early voting has started for the November 8 election. Polling places for early voting and election day voting can be found by clicking here.

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