Choosing a candidate for LISD School Board is all about the homework. Just as we teach our children that they must complete their homework to be successful in school, we voters must also do our homework so we are prepared to execute our responsibilities and make better choices. This is a fundamental truth; we all know it.
Because homework is usually performed beyond the watchful eye of those we are accountable to, we are tempted to cut corners. Sometimes we know we could be doing better on our homework, but we hope the teacher, our boss, our fellow voters or potential constituencies will not notice the outcomes that are the result of us not doing our homework.
LISD parents are becoming increasingly aware of the numerous dynamic changes happening in LISD that are the direct result of decisions made by our school board. Some changes, like the 1:X implementation and the emphasis on project based learning, have had a direct impact on our lives at home with our school-aged children. In every school board meeting, our trustees are making significant decisions that impact every one of us, and particularly our children.
Most of us do not have time to dissect the details of the monthly LISD Board Meeting agenda, and we certainly do not have time to research the scope of each agenda item. Most of us do not even have the time to attend the school board meetings, or watch the video recordings available on the LISD web site. This is why it is so important that we elect trustees who will do the homework. As candidates, they are making a promise to do the homework necessary, and we should be able to trust the trustees to keep up with their homework.
It is understandable that a voter might presume that each trustee candidate is well informed and has done research – like a super citizen who somehow grasps the issues and decision points of LISD. A voter might assume that a ballot cast for any candidate will have a good result because they all seem to really care.
Yet, we know that an uninformed vote is not good. We know that a school board representative needs to be well-researched and informed. And, we should know that it takes more than just “caring about education” to successfully navigate a school district with over 52,000 students through local, state, and federal challenges – not to mention the pressing education reforms and the need to integrate technology. To be a well-informed trustee involves a great deal of homework.
Once elected, a trustee can cut-corners on their homework and simply vote in favor of requests. A vote with the crowd requires less justification. A vote against, the nay vote, must be defended more precisely. The nay vote requires the trustee do much more homework. If a trustee exclusively votes in favor of the district requests, then what is the purpose of the trustee? If the school board were to vote exclusively in favor of the district requests, then what is the purpose of the school board?
The Texas Association of School Boards says that good governance is possible when trustees “take extra steps to be as effective as they possibly can” and “encourage their fellow trustees to do the same.” This means action, not just caring. For this reason, it is crucial that we elect trustees who are willing to do the necessary homework to be effective.
May 10 is Election Day for LISD Board of Trustee places 6 and 7, with early voting beginning on April 28. Those trustees elected will hold the seat for three years and have the advantage of being the incumbent in future elections. We can judge these candidates’ willingness to do their homework based on how well they have researched and prepared thus far. See the links below to begin your research on the candidates for LISD Trustees. Remember that elections for LISD trustee are usually decided by a few hundred votes, so every vote truly matters. There is still plenty of time to complete your homework, and it requires an executed vote for your homework to count as submitted.
These links will help you research:
Texas Association of School Boards (source of TASB quotes)
Candidate Facebook Pages:
Ernie Magnotti is a founding member of Parents4LISD, a discussion group that focuses on LISD governance and trends in K-12 public education. He is also Senior Director of IT Infrastructure and Information Security at DRS Technologies, a defense contractor headquartered in Crystal City,
VA. Ernie can be emailed at [email protected]