I was a recent graduate of DISD in 2010, and a product. I would come into a fresh perspective into board business. I have to say, when I was a High School, I became an active and engaged citizen that started out as a local issue in my school that everyone might have remember when the superintendent, in his first term wanted to cut magnet programs. From then on until now, I had an interest in our local affairs and grew into a political local junkie as I would describe myself. At this rate, I don’t mind volunteering to run for this office. I think of this as giving back to a system that has been good to me and given me and my family opportunities. I came from family of six, and we were all DISD Products. So more importantly, this is something that I want to do, not force upon.
2. How do you see your experiences up to this point helping you as a trustee?
I try to stay on top of all the current issues that are going on in the school district, and have kept up even when I went away for college. By being involved and active, it has helped me understand what is going on in the schools. In terms of leadership, back when I was in school, I was a president, vice-president, treasurer for an organization on-campus. I also held titles such as news and music director at my campus radio station. From there, each day I had to direct people to the day-to-day operations of the station. I think with the little life experience that I’ve had will help me when elected.
3. Do you see any difficulties in working with the other board members? If so, how do you plan to overcome them?
I believe so and it will depend on the issue. On top of that, we have a situation that we will have three new faces coming to the board, and I hope to be one of them. This election will determine the make-up of the board. If I win and have two more like-minded folks that aline with my platform, and most of the time we add to the two that are already on the board, I think things can change dramatic. However, it will all depend on who wins in May. If we have board members that don’t think alike on many issues, it will be hard to deal with. The good part is no matter what side I may be on, all current 8, and the now-education commissioner knows my name and face because I have been engaged, so I feel that it won’t be that hard to come-in and work. On the other hand if elected, I will come into this board as an independent. I want to work across the aisle and get things done. I think that is the issue right now because of people seeing the friction, and I feel that we are just going to have to work to get what both sides want. I will side with one way or another, but at the end of the day it’s all about improving the district somehow.
4. Can you think of a teacher that made a difference in your life?
There were a few in my life that have made a difference. The one that stands out is my high school teacher Ms. Woods. Unfortunately she died recently while on the job. I adore her because she was the most dedicated person I've seen. She was also our Mock Trial Sponsor and she really cared for the wellbeing of the team. She would be the first and last one in at school. We have spend weekends practicing and she was always helpful and supporting us not only as members, but with her classes. She was very funny and caring. I knew she wanted the best and our team won state and went into nationals. I think the biggest gift we as a team did for her is getting that far.
5. Why do students struggle? When you were a student, did you? Why or why not?
There are many reasons why students struggle. One, it has to do with things that are going on in their personal lives. We have an interesting case here in DISD, because we have many students who face tough challenges like wondering when their next meal is, parents fighting, or they live with someone else. Other times, it can be bullying as well which is still a big issue today everywhere. Another reason leading out towards that is the way that they learn the subjects. Many students struggle with subjects that they can’t understand, and especially in the STEM areas where we push a lot because of the value it has later on. In many schools still, and when I was a kid back in elementary, most of the time I was taught Reading/Language Arts and Math, but not as much of Science and Social Studies, so with Science, I had a hard time later on. Math was also a subject I wasn’t good at either. It got hard once I went into high school trying to learn Algebra and Geometry. For me it even took me a while in college trying to pass Math. It also comes down to our culture that we have as we are preparing students to take a test, and not into learning the material. One last thing is teachers. As many of them are faced with substitutes because they don’t have a permanent teacher yet because they leave during the school year. So, that doesn’t help students as I’ve had that happen before and I really didn’t learn anything.
6. How did you get past those difficult times during your academic career?
I tried the basic ways, tutoring and getting up from friends. Many of these things I had to learn on my own like many other things. Sometimes, it would take time for me to understand the material. I’m a visual learner, so it does help me as well to see the material first-hand.
7. What is DISD doing well now and where can we improve?
I think the programs that we have to offer such as dual-language and credit programs in our school are very good and we have hear many great things about it. I also see that our magnet schools are getting recognized nationally and that is a reason why people will stay in our district, and not go somewhere else. However, we need to look into improving our neighborhood schools and it take effort to fixing them up and a community. Speaking about community, I think we need to improve our relations and being a representative, I feel that it's a responsibility to have a open-door policy to bring back trust in the community, that's how they feel about the board right now.
8. If you were the Superintendent today, what, if anything, would you do differently and why?
What I would do is start off fresh with a new cabinet and ensure that we have people that are experienced in their fields. We have a lack of oversight on who we out in very important positions that we have in the district. I would also look and see what departments that are not related to the outcomes of teachers, students, and taxpayers. We have to cut waste and I would also cut vacancies that we haven't filled. Then, I would either balance our budget if we're in a deficit or put it in schools that need it for any reason. Also, I would be that middle-man that would try to bring everyone on the board together when creating policies. As we have seen how the board would be divided, I would work on both sides of the aisle and come up with a plan that would be effective.
9. What do you see as the role and responsibility of a trustee?
I think the role is to be a voice for the community. We can be passionate about what is it that fires up people and be that voice of reason. As you have the role about helping others, it's our responsibility to actually represent all constituents not only for your own single-member area, but for all parts of town. There is also the part of creating policy, and we are the ones that have to power to create change that can ether make or break the district and we have to think about the outcomes it has when it passes. Also, there's some accountability that is involved in many ways such as how taxpayer’s dollars are spent and to rate, fire, and hire the superintendent. If we want the board to trust us, we have to prove to them that we are watching out for them and to ensure that all schools are doing great and so on.
10. What role do you think charter schools play in Dallas education? What role should they play?
There is more cons then pros for this issue. The only pro thing about it is it creates competition and should scare the district into doing something to prevent the loss of students to these schools. Let me just be blunt about this, some schools suck. We don't win anymore in DISD because of many reasons. The quality education that some students get. It could also be about the student, mainly they are bullied in school and nothing was done about and the parents had to take drastic actions. Second, our buildings are falling apart and I can't say more about this part and we can use South Oak Cliff High School as a poster child of this. These are some of the reasons why parents pull their students out. However, as someone that is against charter schools and a Pro-DISD and Pro-Public Education advocate, we need to go back and look into our basic needs like fixing all of those things I've mentioned. We need to fix our priorities and making sure students don't leave in droves like they already are.
11. Identify an issue your constituents are passionate about. What would your ideal solution be to that issue?
So far, it's been the quality of the schools. They have said about how sometimes parents are not feeling welcomed from the administration and there has been some problems that they don't feel comfortable sending their kids. We have much competition as we are surrounded by other districts that easily get them because we don't fix our problems. There only some people that would send them to other schools and have a preference. So, we have to fix the quality by having great teachers that care, a good environment, and a community to get together and improve schools.
12. Why should voters on Election Day choose you?
I feel I have the most knowledgeable insight about our issues that we face in our district. It seems that District Four have been out of the loop when it comes to issues that are important to everyone, so I want to come up with ways that we can bring the district to the people and educate them about our many different programs that we have such as dual-credit, magnets, etc. In that case, I will have a open-door policy with anyone to get a hold with me regarding concerns. I will be that common sense voice when elected to ensure that we’re getting back to the basics. What does that mean? It means making sure teachers are respected, that they feel good about the district, and moral is high. We are losing teachers to better districts and we have to be competitive with others and unfortunately we lose in DISD because our students are suffering. That's some of the things I want to work on. However, we have to have a open dialogue with all parties. With that said, I will come in as a independent and working with both sides to make sure we get everything fixed. For too long, we have partisan fights and I think even in other governments we lose that. That how you can get a real board to work if we all come together and negotiate policies. At the end of the day it's all about the students, parents, and taxpayers. I will be the voice of the people, and those are the ones that will have more of a day when it comes to decisions.
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Dallas ISD Elections 2016
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