In making their endorsements in State Board of Education races, the Chron “supports an incumbent who has fought for reason and clarity, and two challengers who would be fresh voices of reason”. As well they should.
In District 4, Lawrence Allen, the Democratic incumbent, fought to see that slavery wasn’t downplayed as the chief cause of the Civil War. As one of two African-Americans on the board, he’s offered a crucial minority perspective. As a former teacher and principal and current director of special projects for the Houston Independent School District, he knows how schools work. And as son of state Rep. Alma Allen (D-Houston), he has valuable ties to the Texas Legislature.
In District 6, Traci Jensen, the Democratic challenger, is a former Aldine classroom teacher who earned a Ph.D in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston, and now works with a UH program that coaches new teachers. She is smart as a whip, an expert in curricula, and promises to see that the board has a “clear, concise educational direction, not an ideological agenda.”
In District 8, Democrat Dexter Smith has taught third and fourth-grade social studies for 12 years, and is now pursuing his principal certification. His opponent, the current board chair, has a long history of votes aligned with the ideological majority. Smith promises to do better, making sure, for instance, that people appointed to review curricula are mainstream experts in their fields. And he vows to help legislators understand how proposals would affect real-world classrooms.
Smith is running against Barbara Cargill. He has a tougher electoral task than Jensen does. I did not get a chance to talk with him, so refer to that Texas Freedom Network voters guide to the SBOE races for more information about him.
Meanwhile, although the Express-News did not explicitly use the word “reason” in its endorsement of John Courage for the SD25 seat now held by Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who was vanquished in the GOP primary by the loony Donna Campbell, you can tell that is what informed their opinion.
We recommend that voters cast their ballots for Courage, an Air Force veteran and a teacher. Courage has deep roots in the district and demonstrates a more comprehensive knowledge of the issues facing Texas.
Courage’s long history as an active participant in the community makes him far better prepared to address local issues than Campbell.
A former member of the Alamo Community College District board, Courage has run unsuccessfully for the San Antonio City Council and the 21st Congressional District post held by Rep. Lamar Smith.
Courage is a strong advocate of public education, who is critical of education funding cuts enacted by lawmakers in 2011. Courage said he would work to restore adequate education funding.
Campbell wants to focus on inefficiencies in the education system. While that sounds good, recent state cuts and the inadequacies of Texas’s school finance system make additional funding urgent.
Courage offers a far more realistic approach to fiscal issues, including transportation funding.
The choices are seldom as clear as these. If people want government that’s more practical and less ideological, it’s in their grasp to make it happen.