May 15, 2014

In DFW district, Beltrán brings tale of two cities

The Dallas Democrat grew up in Fort Worth and can lead public education reform.

Many Democrats may not be aware that the runoff election beginning Monday will decide a local elective office.

That’s because although central Fort Worth and east Arlington are in State Board of Education District 13, a Dallas Democrat has held the seat since the district was drawn in 1988.

Along with helping choose the Democratic nominees for U.S. Senate and state agriculture commissioner, local voters will all but outright select a new board member to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Mavis Best Knight.

No Republican is running. The Democratic winner will face Dallas Libertarian Junart Sodoy in the fall to represent the district, which is dominated by central and south Dallas.

Dallas Democrat Erika Beltrán, a graduate of Fort Worth’s North Side High School, is uniquely positioned to best represent the entire district.

Beltrán, 35, is an energetic policy analyst for Dallas-based Teaching Trust, a nonprofit that trains school officials to lead change and transform campuses.

As a former Teach for America educator, she taught kindergarten and fourth grade in Houston.

Her experience with public school choice began in Fort Worth, where she grew up in the Diamond Hill neighborhood and credits her Helbing Elementary and Meacham Middle School teachers with spurring her on to Como Montessori Middle School, North Side and a degree from Williams College.

A few critics are leery of her connection with charter schools, but she talks eloquently about supporting all public schools.

Beltrán is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, state Reps. Nicole Collier and Chris Turner and Fort Worth City Council member Sal Espino.

The other candidate, 40-year Dallas teacher, counselor and administrator Andrea Hilburn, was demoted from assistant superintendent.

She has Knight’s endorsement.

Beltrán is by far the better and more knowledgable candidate.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Erika Beltrán in the Democratic Party primary for State Board of Education District 13.

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