Super Bowl Sunday: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

I’ve never been an expert on the Super Bowl. I grew up on a farm in northern Indiana and went to such a small school that we didn’t have a football team. Basketball was king, my brother was a starter, so that was the only ball game I understood well. When my husband Pierre and I came to Texas, I had to catch up on football, especially when I became special assistant to President Jerry Supple and was asked to be “guest coach” at a football game. There I was on the field, trying to keep my eye on the action, scared someone was going to accidentally tackle me, and I couldn’t even keep track of where the ball was. I had to ask the Vice President for Student Affairs, Joanne Smith, to explain everything. I was no more qualified to be a real coach than many of the people on the Texas State Board of Education who direct our textbook and curriculum choices for a state which covers one in ten kids in the United States. The idea that non-teachers make these momentous choices based on their personal political beliefs or life experience is as absurd as it would be for me to coach a Super Bowl team.

Teaching, curriculum, and textbooks are complex subjects, and I’ve had
decades of experience with all three. As a candidate, writer and researcher, I have
continued to “keep my eye on the ball” when it comes to the State Board of Education
for years, I’ve analyzed charter schools, budget issues, and high-stakes testing in our
state. It doesn’t take a financial wizard to see that most decisions made in Texas
education come down to the legal term “Cui bono?” or who profits. Decision-makers
must not see students as cash cows. Education is an investment in our future, not a
place for people to favor companies that make money from charter schools, textbooks
and testing. An educated and qualified board, free of conflicts of interest, can make
decisions that benefit our students and the future of Texas for everyone. I am the only
teacher running for District 5, and we need more teachers on the State Board of
Education. Let’s keep our eye on education!

Does the Texas State Board of Education Still Make a Difference?

The Texas State Board of Education has improved since I first ran for it, when its members’ antics made Texas fodder for late-night comedians. Nowadays, most of our outrage arises from a constant flood of outrageous White House news, but we must not lose sight of the fact that our public-school curriculum is still sadly outdated and in need of revision.

We need a fresh look at the skills and tools needed to solve 21st century problems, including global warming and environmental devastation, challenges to democracy, rampant worldwide income inequality, and political strife. Let’s remember the slogan, “Think globally, act locally,” as we tackle problems that affect not only the nation, but the entire globe. Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to shape the future of Texas and the planet through our choices in public education.

Several key principles should guide our thinking and our actions as we look at public-school curriculum, which is decided by the fifteen members on the unpaid State Board of Education. With our booming population, our public schools educate nearly one in ten students in the United States. What they learn is key to our future, and we must work on improving our corner of the world. This will involve challenging the board’s obsession with Algebra II, choosing instead the more useful path of teaching new skills and subjects, from statistical analysis to computer coding. Aside from providing young people with important work skills, a revised curriculum will conform to new entrance exams and employer demands for an educated workforce.

Even though I live in a district gerrymandered to elect a Republican, I have been committed to winning a seat on the State Board of Education to help change its direction. Since my first run that I lost by 24%, I’ve improved each time, closing the gap to 8% on my next try and then coming within 4% in 2016. Not only does this trajectory suggest that victory is within reach in 2020, but so does the trend of suburban voters being more likely to support Democrats because the Austin-San Antonio corridor is the core of my district.

As a candidate, I will be running at full speed, with a leave from my teaching duties and a steadfast commitment to the same vision and principles that have inspired me from the beginning. Winning will take grit, determination, hard work, and a unified Democratic party. I am excited for our future, and I hope you’ll join and support me!