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2014 primary voters guide: State Board of Education races

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Here’s a closer look at candidates in the Republican and Democratic primary races for the Texas State Board of Education in the March 4 primary elections.

All candidates in contested races that appear on Tarrant County ballots were sent a Star-Telegram questionnaire about their campaigns and background. Here are the responses — unfiltered and in their own words — from the candidates who replied. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected.

State Board of Education, District 11

Republicans

Patricia “Pat” Hardy (i)

Age: 65

Occupation and/or your main source of income: educator

City: Fort Worth

Campaign phone number: 817-732-1786

Campaign email address: pathardy2008@sbcglobal.net

Web site: www.votehardy.com

Education background, including all degrees: Howard Payne University, B.A.; University of North Texas, M.S.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Community involvement: For the past eleven I have served on the Texas State Board of Education, where I presently chair the SBOE’s Permanent School Fund Committee. For the past three years I have participated in Kid’s Hope mentoring program at George C. Clarke Elementary in Fort Worth ISD. I am an active member of Travis Ave Baptist Church and serve as Vice-Chair of the Indian Creek Condominiums. Member of the following organizations: Texas Retired Teachers Association, Texas Council for the Social Studies, Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association, World Affairs Council, Texas Alliance for Geographic Education; Dallas Arboretum

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? My life’s work has been in education. I spent 30 years as a classroom teacher and am completing my fourteenth year as a central office administrator. I have received numerous recognitions for my expertise and commitment to Texas schools, including the Texas Social Studies Supervisor of the Year and Texas Excellence in Education Award from The University of Texas Ex-Students' Association. Because of my interest in education issues, before I was elected to the State Board, the Speaker of the House appointed me to serve on several education policy committees. During my term of service on the SBOE, I have built consensus and guided the Board to become more efficient and cohesive.

 What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? Presently the charge of the State Board and its most pressing issue is to put in place new courses and graduation requirements as prescribed by the Legislature in HB5, a process that has already begun. Two other issues the board will soon address are the social studies textbook adoption and revision of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for both Career Technology Education and English Language Arts & Reading. With updated technology, in recent standards revisions the board has been able to include more ideas and opinions from educators around the state. I would like to see more input by both interested educators and qualified community members. Recently the Chair of the Board appointed me to lead a Standards Ad Hoc Committee. This group will cooperate with the House of Representatives Public Education Committee in their interim charge to review Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills as they relate to State of Texas Assessment for Academic Readiness.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Although service on the SBOE is costly and unpaid, it is an especially rewarding opportunity to give time, energy, and expertise to the students and state of Texas. I cherish the votes of my constituents and am grateful for the personal physical and mental resources that have allowed me to serve in this critical position. I trust the electorate to decide the number of terms that I serve.

Lady Theresa Thombs

Age: 55

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Business Owner for over 20 years and Real Estate Agent. My main source of income comes from the construction company my husband and I own. I have traveled the world as an Evangelist and advocate for children, youth, women, and seniors.

City: North Richland Hills

Campaign phone number: 817-875-8214

Campaign email address: ladythombs@aol.com

Web site: www.ladythombs.com

Education background, including all degrees: Paralegal Degree, Accounting Background, licensed Real Estate Agent with specialty designations. CNE-Certified Negotiation Expert, CDPE-Short Sale Specialist, SRES-Senior Real Estate Specialist and am currently working on a masters program in short sales and foreclosure.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: I currently sit on the board of directors for the Texas Association of Business located in Austin. This organization has made public education and creating a path for the success of Texas students a priority. MetroTex Realtors Association where I serve on the Government Affairs, TREPAC, Diversity in Housing, and Public Education committees. National Association of Women in Construction, Builders Association, NARI, Dallas and Fort Worth Claims adjusters Associations, just to name a few. There is a much longer list on the website.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? As an international evangelist, I have been in schools all over the globe, even those in countries where sharing the gospel openly is difficult. I have seen over the years what works and does not work. As a Certified Negotiation Expert, it allows me the ability to work with everyone involved in this issue and come up with solutions where the children are the big winners at the end of the day.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? #1 the complete elimination of CSCOPE or any curriculum derived from Common Core. Let's get back to building a strong foundation of the basics of reading, writing, mathematics, history and science. #2 to restore local control back to the classroom where it belongs. I believe that if State Board of Education members would work alongside teachers, parents, students, administration, and business, we could solve most of the problems we have in education. It is time we start listening to those who are on the front lines everyday fighting the war for the success of our children. Someone needs to give a voice back to the teachers and parents. For far too long teachers would not come forward for fear of loosing their job or public humiliation from certain members of the SBOE. It is time that practice stops and we begin to work together. #3 instead of pouring millions of dollars into programs like CSCOPE and other curriculum like it, let's start career and technical curriculum so that those children without the opportunity to go to college, can graduate into a career.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Yes, no more than 3 terms. Term limits need to be imposed in order to allow fresh ideas. Just because you term out, does not mean you stop caring. You can always work along side the new member from your district and help them navigate and shorten their learning curve. It goes back to your character and who you are as a person. Are you serving to make a positive difference in the lives of Texas students, or are you serving because of what is in it for you.

Eric Mahroum

Age: 31

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Operations Manager

City: Bedford

Web site: EricforEducation.com

Education background, including all degrees: BA Business administration from American Intercontinental University

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Class President of the Lewisville citizen’s police academy in 2012. Former Vice President of the Young Republicans of Denton County. Volunteer at the Heavenly Supply Depot. Member of the Dallas Roman Catholic Diocese.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? First off I am a father of two who is concerned about our current state of public education. I have fifteen years of dealing with budgets and operations. I will be fiscally responsible when it comes to managing the permanent school fund. I will stay true to my conservative values when serving on the board.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? As your SBOE member, I will be an advocate for school reform that provides greater educational opportunities for ALL children. I will work to increase public accountability — particularly with parents — regarding curriculum that the SBOE supports. I will be a voice against the culture of testing versus actual learning that has been fostered in Texas. End-of-the-year testing does not ideally assess student progress in a timely manner; such testing hurts numerous school districts and unnecessarily penalizes teachers who have dedicated their time creating valuable lesson plans for students. Teaching is more than just instructing students on how to fill out a multiple-choice scantron.

Finally, the Permanent School Fund is an uniquely Texas institution that helps finance public primary and secondary education in our state. Established with a $2,000,000 in 1854, the fund, through prudent investing and through land revenues, now has a portfolio of more than $28,000,000,000. The fund must continue to be a sound investment — protected from wayward spending and misuse. As a conservative and an experienced manager in the hospitality industry, I recognize the need for fiscal responsibility when dealing with any kind of budget or investment. As your SBOE member, I will work to ensure that the Permanent School Fund is transparent and solvent going forward.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Yes – I plan to only serve two terms and I believe in term limits.

State Board of Education, District 13

Democrats

Erika Beltran

Age: 35

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Policy Program Director, Teaching Trust

Address and how long you’ve lived at that address: 2401 Bennett Ave. #3335. 8 months

City: Dallas

Campaign phone number: 214-744-3149

Campaign email address: Erikabeltranfortexaskids@gmail.com

Web site: www.erikabeltranfortexaskids.com Facebook: Erika Beltran for State Board of Education, District 13 Twitter: @EBeltran4SBOE

Education background, including all degrees: LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin - Austin, Texas: Master of Public Affairs, 2006, Professional Report: “Closing School Readiness Gaps: A Guide for Texas Policymakers;” Williams College - Williamstown, MA: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, 2001; Ronald E. McNair Scholar – A program to encourage first-generation college students who have demonstrated strong academic potential to pursue graduate studies.

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement:

· Board Member, Young Leaders in Education (YLE): YLE is a group of young professionals committed to strengthening education in North Texas. As a Board Member, I have the privilege of working with other young professionals passionate about education and with non-profits in Dallas in need of additional support.

· Volunteer, Organizing for Action (OFA): As a volunteer for OFA I have organized and participated in numerous phone banks and “flyering” events urging our members of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office?

I am an educator committed to improving public education in Texas. As first generation college graduate, I understand the importance of preparing students for success. Upon graduating from Williams College in Massachusetts, I moved back to Texas to teach bilingual kindergarten and fourth grade. Teaching gave me unique insight into the challenges facing students, families, and educators and inspired me to commit my career to ending education inequity.

After teaching, I launched into the field of education policy. I attended the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and received a Master of Public Affairs in 2006. I spent a year in the San Francisco Bay Area working for a large private family foundation and worked on efforts to help close school readiness gaps. From California, I moved to Washington, D.C. where she spent five years working for a large civil rights organization tracking federal education policy and advocating for the needs of low-income children and families. Currently, I work for a Dallas-based nonprofit, Teaching Trust, where I lead a leadership development program for teachers.

I’m running to serve on the Texas State Board of Education because I believe that every child and family in District 13 should have the opportunity to succeed. I am passionate about education and about ensuring that Texas children have access to rigorous instruction, great teachers and leaders, and excellent schools.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? When elected to the State Board of Education, I plan on ensuring that Texas children have access to:

Rigorous Instruction – Children who grow up in Texas must be prepared to compete with children from around the globe. As a former teacher, I understand the importance of developing learning standards that set high expectations for all kids. As a Board Member, I commit to ensuring that Texas:

· Develops rigorous learning standards that are aligned to college and workforce expectations and prepare all students for success.

· Adopts historically and scientifically accurate textbooks and curriculum.

· Ensures that teachers and students have access to high-quality instructional materials

Great Teachers and Principals - Teachers and principals play a critically important role in securing the success of students. In fact, research has proven that teachers are the most important in-school factor contributing to student achievement. We must continue to invest in recruiting, training, and retaining the most effective teachers and administrators. As a Board Member, I commit to ensuring that Texas:

· Adopts policies that help attract effective teachers and principals to the profession.

· Provides on-going professional development for teachers and principals that help them meet the needs of students.

· Works closely with educators to inform the educator certification process.

Excellent Schools – Children and families across Texas deserve excellent schools. Excellent schools are places where children are nurtured, challenged, and prepared for success. These are places where children thrive and adults are fully committed to the students and families they serve. As a Board Member, I will work hard to ensure that Texas schools:

· Prioritize the needs of students.

· Develop professional staff that can deliver strong outcomes for students.

· Establish a culture of high expectations for all students.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? I plan on serving on the State Board of Education for as long as I believe I am making an impact. I believe there should be a two-term limit for the SBOE. Serving two terms allows for sufficient time to make and impact and to make room for fresh new voices.

Andrea Hilburn

Age: 64/

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Educator - Dallas ISD

City: Dallas

Campaign email address: ahilburn8814@att.net

Web site: None

Education background, including all degrees: BS from the University of North Texas; MED from Texas A & M in Commerce; and a PhD from University of Texas at Dallas

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement: Dallas School Administrators Association (Executive Board President '91-'93); National Association for Black School Educations; United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Dallas Alumnae Chapter; Boys and Girls Club, Inc. and South Dallas Concert Choir

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? Using 40 years of experience in education as a teacher, principal, administrative services and programs which includes policy overview, as well as an adjunct professor for Concordia University Master's Program and principal certification.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address? I plan to work with the State Board of Education as a member to address the following upcoming issues:

1) Determining what new courses will be developed to give students more options under HB5, especially concerned with more alternative mathematics courses that would cover algebraic concepts for non-math majors.

2) TEKS review as a continuous cycle/ courses are reviewed every ten years/ the instructional materials are reviewed and then to make sure that the TEKS that are align with instructional materials are aligned with the STATE assessment.

3) Looking at the review and approval process of the next Social Studies books - last year the State Board approved the next biology books.

The main focus is on higher achievements in our schools.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms your would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Board members serve staggered terms: when 7 SBOE members are up for reelection in one election cycle and 8 SBOE members are up for the next election cycle after the 12th year for one set of members a new set would come in and the other set would remain in office until the next election cycle.

I believe in term limits for all offices. We should serve our term (s) before the effectiveness of one's focus diminished. Why, because sometime the individual in office does not cultivate others to replace them and one begins to think of the office as their personal possession. Moreover one may become resistant to and not support new ideas and the apathetic voting public continues to send the familiar back to office.

A. Denise Russell

Age: 46

Occupation and/or your main source of income: Teacher

City: Dallas

Campaign phone number: 214-228-4670

Campaign email address: adeniserussell@outlook.com

Web site: adeniserussell.com

Education background, including all degrees:

B.A. in Mathematics,

Dallas Baptist University

M.S. in Education,

Walden University

M.A. in Mathematics,

Almeda University

Pursuing ED.D. in Teacher

Leadership, Walden University

(expected graduation in July 2014)

Highlights of your current and past civic involvement:

National Honor Society Sponsor,

Step Team Sponsor, and

Sunday School Teacher Chess Club Sponsor,

Mathematics UIL Coach,

Volunteer at YMCA,

Little League Cheerleading

Coach Volunteer,

Volunteer with 'Acts of Change' Fitness Festival

Candy Stripe Volunteer at Scottish Rite Hospital

Volunteer at March of Dimes Haunted House

Various Teacher of the month awards

What in particular about your background, skills and experience makes you qualified for this office? I am a parent. I am a teacher. I am a high school administrator. I am a math tutor. I am (also) a student. These social roles allow me to view education from many angles. This enables me to make educational decisions that assist everyone in State Board of Education District 13. My purpose is to make sure all students benefit from SBOE decisions.

What are the highest priority issues that you plan to address?

The highest priority issues I plan to address are graduation requirements, new mathematics textbooks, and student assessments.

Do you plan to limit the number of terms you would serve, and do you believe there should be term limits for the office you seek? Yes, I believe that there should be a rotation of servants to maintain the integrity and innovation of the office.

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