DALLAS — Watch the full episode of this week's Y'all-itics episode in the video player above
The battle over books in school libraries is only intensifying in Texas.
Keller Independent School District mother Laney Hawes says when books are pulled from shelves in her district, they stay gone for a minimum of ten years, something she says has happened to around 40 books already this school year.
And because of a non-binary frog, Hawes says even the popular children’s book series “Dog Man and Cat Kid” has been yanked.
“None of us really know where those books go. They're boxed up and no one will answer us as to actually what happens to those books,” Hawes told us on Y’all-itics. “My greatest fear is that they're being boxed up and sent away with like the shredders. I don't know. Right? I don't know what happens to these books.”
Conservatives make up the majority on Keller ISD’s school board, after a coordinated effort – and financial backing – from the likes of the Republican National Committee and other conservative groups.
Then co-chair of the RNC, Tommy Hicks Jr., first told us about this plan last year when he revealed the RNC is providing much of the infrastructure to turn out the vote for local races, including school boards.
Parents like Laney Hawes, who describes herself as a moderate, have since decided to fight back and in her words, make school board meetings boring again.
It all started by forming the non-profit “Keller ISD Families for Public Education.”
But they see it as a David vs. Goliath battle in suburban Tarrant County, especially as it relates to funding.
Listen to the latest Y'all-itics episode here:
“It is a bunch of parents and neighbors offering, here's $100, here's $300, here's $25. That's added up to about $5,000, give or take. What can we do? Right now we have realized we have one goal and that is voter turnout. That's it,” Hawes told us. “Because if the exact same people vote in the elections that have been voting who voted last year, we're not going to win because the messaging is the same. The only thing we can do to win is by inspiring new people to vote.”
Hawes says the next three weeks are particularly important for them.
The Keller ISD school board election is May 6 (as are other municipal elections) and they’re trying to hand out 20,000 information cards between now and then.
The group has even tried to recruit some candidates to run for school board.
But in today’s political environment, that can be difficult, if not impossible.
“Any reasonable, decent people from, and I'm not saying, regardless of political affiliation, right, it's been hard to find people who are willing to do that because they know this is what they're going to be up against,” said Hawes. “So, the chilling effect has been now as well that decent people don't want to run for local office.”
Hawes knows this first-hand.
As one of the more vocal parents leading the charge, she’s faced conservative backlash on social media and in person.
She told us about the time a man walked up to her at a school board meeting and called her out for being a member of Antifa.
“I kind of tapped him on the shoulder and I was like, excuse me, because I didn't quite hear him. And he was like, you heard it. We know you're Antifa. I just walked away, like, almost laughing. I'm not Antifa. I'm a mom with four children in the school district who's really, really invested in their education and in their futures. It's wild, man,” Hawes explained.
Hawes will be the first to tell you elections have consequences. And this conversation surrounding the growing controversy continues in our full episode of Y’all-itics. Listen now… and cheers!
Last week's episode of Y'all-itics: