Just weeks before the August 21st filing deadline for HISD's School Board Elections this November, the District IX Trustee race is heating up. In her first bid for re-election after clinching the Trustee seat in 2013, she faces three challengers as of today, and the list is rumored to continue growing.
The seat, which represents Worthing, Madison, and Westbury High Schools (Westbury is my alma mater), and the middle and elementary schools in the respective feeder patterns, is up for election this year in November.
After serving six years on Houston City Council, she challenged State Representative Alma Allen in the Democratic Primary before winning her seat on the school board with an impressive 71.2% of the vote. But after unpopular school closings, failed bond performance, back-to-back scandals, and a report that the district might face state takeover, HISD's board is getting a lot more attention these days.
Since Wanda Adams serves as the board's President, it's not surprising that some community leaders are lining up for the November election. Unpopular news coverage of alleged scandals and bribery at headquarters put our nation's seventh largest school district in the spotlight.
When asked, some said they need another unapologetic progressive presence similar to Jolanda Jones to push back against right-leaning Trustees on the board. Whether via HISD's cable access channel or Jones' personal live feed, it's clear she's a results-oriented firebrand.
The question becomes, if not Adams, then whom?
Based on the field so far, that presence is closest resembled by Public Education activist and founder of United Urban Alumni Alliance Jerry Monroe who officially threw his hat in the race against Adams yesterday. A consistent challenger of school closings and advocate for district improvements, Monroe points to disparities in funding, corruption in the awarding of contracts, and accessibility in many of his Facebook live conversations about HISD's school board.
In my years at protests and rallies held at HISD's Administration Building, Monroe has been a consistent presence.
DR. KARLA BROWN
Dr. Karla Brown, Executive Director and Founder of The Providence on Southmore, a non-profit providing mentorship, internships, and degree completion support. Brown is also among the list to challenge Adams. I met with her for lunch regarding her non-profit a few years ago, and she seems like a solid candidate in my personal opinion.
Charnelle Thompson rounds off the list of three, but I couldn't find much information on her just yet.
OVERHAUL, OR NAH?
As an alumnus of Westbury High School which falls in the seat's constituency, I'm really looking forward to hearing from Adams and her competition before making my decision, as I hope you will.
HoustonJustice.Org will host a debate and town hall in October to give each of the candidates in the race an opportunity to answer questions of students, parents, and public education advocates.
The school-to-prison pipeline is real, and I believe our school board trustees have a huge responsibility to guide the modernization of over-sized, antiquated districts like HISD. I marched in the band at Westbury. I played trumpet. This opportunity, which contributed to me graduating in the first place, is now drifting away. Have you seen the size of marching bands lately? The same can be said of access to trade and vocational programs that provide alternatives for those not wanting to spend time and money at a four-year brick-and-mortar institution. Oh, and STUDENT LOANS!
While it's obvious trends at the Texas Legislature and Congress affect funding streams, we need to change the model. We need a school board that works.
From waste in the form of iPads and new shiny buildings that often lack substance and real resources inside them, a true overhaul is needed at HISD.
The question is: Should this seat be part of the overhaul.
-By Durrel Douglas, Founder/Executive Director