Education

Meet the candidates for the Fort Worth school board District 5

wo candidates are seeking to fill the District 5 seat, which was held by Trustee Judy Needham who has served on the board since 1996.

District 5 includes Arlington Heights High School, Tanglewood and Western Hills elementary schools. The post is for a four-year, unpaid term.

Carin “CJ” Evans

Office sought: FWISD Trustee, District 5

Name: Carin “CJ” Evans

Occupation: Attorney

Age: 41

Website: cjevansforfwisd.com

Best way for voters to reach you: Via Website

Public offices held/sought: None Previously

Carin “CJ” Evans
Carin “CJ” Evans, a Fort Worth attorney, is seeking the District 5 seat on the Fort Worth school board. Records show she voted in the GOP primary in 2018. Courtesy Carin "CJ" Evans Campaign

What organizations are you affiliated with? The Women’s Center of Tarrant County, North Hi Mount PTA, Stripling PTA, Trinity Presbyterian Church

What is the most pressing issue facing Fort Worth students? Only 33% of our students are reading on grade level by 3rd grade. Early literacy has direct correlation with graduation rates and a student’s college/career readiness. A few years ago our current board and Superintendent aligned their focus in three areas: early literacy, middle years math, and college/career readiness. As far as these goals are concerned we’ve made some quantifiable strides, but we still have a long way to go. The board needs to maintain a disciplined focus on outcome base policy, procedure, and resource allocation to ensure all our students are succeeding.

What is the role of a school board trustee? Trustees have official 3 duties: (1) raise and levy taxes (2) hire and fire the superintendent and (3) represent the vision and values of the community. We can continue to make gains in the early literacy, middle years math, and college/career readiness by careful stewardship of our tax dollars and good governance. Our Board of Trustees must work as one body in continuing to monitor those goals and push the district to improvement through effective and results driven policy, resource allocation, and practice.

How important is government and board transparency and how will you show your commitment to transparency? Very important. I think that the board has in recent years taken great steps to increase the transparency of all decisions that are made, and I am in favor of continuing that tradition and ever increasing the transparency of Board decisions.

How is Fort Worth ISD doing on providing equity of opportunity to all students, regardless of race? How could it do better? In February 2017 FWISD adopted an equity policy aimed at eliminating opportunity gaps for minority children. An example of this policy in practice is the Leadership Academies. Those campuses have seen increased numbers in closing learning gaps and getting every student to grade level in reading and math with increased instruction time combined with providing three meals a day. It’s a good start but we still have a long way to go. District wide we are seeing a rise in third grade reading levels. But when you isolate those numbers by race we see our minority students aren’t making the same gains as their Anglo peers. We need to work with the input of parents, students, and teachers to find the solutions necessary to continue to improve academic outcomes for all students.

Carla Morton

Office sought: Fort Worth ISD School Board Trustee – District 5

Name: Dr. Carla Morton

Occupation: Pediatric and Developmental Neuropsychologist

Age: 46

Website: VoteMortonTX.com

Carla Morton
Carla Morton, a pediatric neuropsychologist and parent of two Tanglewood students, is seeking the District 5 seat on the Fort Worth school board. She describes herself as a longtime Democrat. Courtesy Carla Morton campaign

Best way for voters to reach you E-mail: VoteMortonTX@gmail.com

Public offices held/sought: November 2018 – Candidate for Texas State Board of Education – District 11

What organizations are you affiliated with? FWISD Special Education PTA; FWISD Special Education Advisory Committee; Leadership ISD Tarrant County Alumni; Key Navigation and Training Institute; Task Force Society for Clinical Neuropsychology; American Psychological Association; Fort Worth Judo Club.

What is the most pressing issue facing Fort Worth students? The most pressing issue for students is success after graduation, and too many are leaving high school unprepared. For example, while some graduates are well-prepared to enter prestigious universities, 42% of Texas students require remediation before beginning freshman-level college courses. As a result, they must pay for high school-level classes themselves. Other students who are interested in technical careers also have to pay for additional classes when they could have been preparing to begin skilled labor apprenticeships while in high school. Finally, students with severe cognitive impairments should receive instruction emphasizing independent living skills until they are 21 years old.

What is the role of a school board trustee? The role of a school board trustee is to represent the values and vision of the community. I have completed the Lone Star Governance training, and I embrace this framework for accountability. Using the LSG model, board members collaborate with the superintendent to set expectations and determine measures of progress with the overarching goal of improving student outcomes. The board then regularly monitors progress towards those goals. However, in accordance with the LSG model, the superintendent (not members of the board!) is the educational expert and makes day-to-day decisions about how to achieve the goals that have been set.

How important is government and board transparency and how will you show your commitment to transparency? Transparency is everything! As a psychologist, I am accustomed to adhering to a Code of Ethics, and I will answer any questions about my behavior as a school board trustee. Because the board spends other people’s money, it is obligated to operate in the most transparent manner possible so that citizens can be confident they are receiving the best product for their investment. I am not a wealthy person, and I feel the impact of ever-increasing property taxes myself. As such, I am dedicated to spending every penny as efficiently as possible as we work together to improve student outcomes.

How is Fort Worth ISD doing on providing equity of opportunity to all students, regardless of race? How could it do better? I recently attended the FWISD Racial Equity Summit, and I applaud the creation of the FWISD Division of Equity and Excellence. The district is making good progress in the area of racial equity, but much more work remains. Students have told me that, while they feel empowered by learning about great historical figures that share their heritage, they are disappointed when classes are no longer offered at their schools. In addition, recent research by Dr. Altheria Caldera has demonstrated the need to consider the interaction of race and gender, specifically for African-American females, when evaluating disciplinary practices within the district.

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