Last year, when we reported that no one had filed for the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, we were delighted by the response. Almost twenty members of our community stepped up to serve on the board, any one of whom would have been terrific, and we elected three new members, along with one incumbent, to the board.

This March, people in Hillsborough and other non-incorporated parts of Orange County will vote for three slots on the Orange County Board of Education. While the election is contested, like the CHCCS race was last year, there is a clear difference between the candidates.

CSOCS is a venue for people to organize joyfully in the name of continuing progress toward academic excellence in schools that work for every child.

Earlier this month, a political action committee, Communities Supporting Orange County Schools, launched its website to support three candidates—incumbents Carrie Doyle and Dr. Jennifer Moore, and newcomer Wendy Padilla— who will continue the school board’s success in serving all students, particularly those who come from marginalized backgrounds. Doyle, Moore and Padilla have also picked up endorsements from Indyweek, Public School Strong Voters, and the Orange County Association of Educators. Former Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver and former Orange County School Board member Hillary MacKenzie have also endorsed this slate.

Doyle’s platform includes inclusive opportunities, language access, and providing more STEM opportunities. She’s a member of the Northern Orange NAACP and has served as chair of the school board. Moore is committed to improving academic outcomes and teacher retention, and focusing on mental health. Padilla’s platform centers equity, inclusion and educator support.

Their opponents – Bonnie Hauser, Cindy Shriner, and Michael Johnson – are backed by a different PAC, the alt-right Friends of Orange County Schools (organized by former Orange County Schools board members Stephen and Susan Halkiotis). In the last election cycle, three of their four endorsed candidates overlapped with the slate Moms for Liberty endorsed.

In a profile of Orange County Schools published last August by Barry Yeoman, the Halkiotis’ also made no secret of their views. Susan Halkiotis told Yeoman: “If you look at agendas, there’s equity and name changing and more equity and division. There’s not much education and achievement. … [It’s] all about equity and promoting Black kids over any other ethnicity.” (She hastily added, “We have to look after Black kids. No question.”)

Hauser is a registered Democrat, while Shriner and Johnson are currently unaffiliated. Hauser became a Democrat shortly before running for Orange County Commissioner. Prior to that, she was also unaffiliated.

Both Johnson and Shriner have repeatedly voted in Republican primaries, a contrast to Doyle, Moore, and Padilla who have consistently voted in Democratic primaries. In addition, members of the local Moms for Liberty chapter have written social media posts backing Johnson, Shriner, and Hauser. The group has also been publicly endorsed by the New Group of Patriots, a right-wing group that backs conservative candidates.

If you are voting in the Orange County School Board Elections, we encourage you to vote for Doyle, Moore, and Padilla. You can read the following interviews and material about the race:

All endorsements made (chart made by Triangle Blog Blog)

Indy’s 2024 Primary Election Endorsements

Schoolyard Brawl (The Assembly)

Meet the conservatives who hope to run Orange County Public Schools (Indyweek) Though this piece is from 2022, it mentions Friends of Orange County Schools which is active in this year’s race.

News and Observer Orange County School Board profiles

Op-Ed: Inclusive Classrooms in Orange County Schools Benefit All Kids

Op-Ed: Primary Will Determine the Future for Orange County Students

‘LGBT kids deserve to be seen’: Orange County School Board votes to keep controversial books

In the last municipal election cycle, we helped increase turnout by over 20 percent. We're all volunteers who care deeply about Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we're working to make Chapel Hill and Carrboro more vibrant, accessible, fun, and sustainable.  Please consider a small donation to help us keep our digital lights on, host events, and hire students to do data deep-dives.

Martin Johnson lives in Chapel Hill. He teaches film studies courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a member of NEXT Chapel Hill-Carrboro and the Bicycle Alliance of Chapel...