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Fort Worth ISD Candidates Discuss Priorities, Charter Schools

Rosa Say

Six candidates are competing for two contested seats on the Fort Worth Board of Education.  Half of the candidates responded to our questionnaire with information about:

·       Their qualifications

·       Needed changes within the district

·       Whether they support expanding charter school options

FWISD District 1

Jacinto Ramos, Jr.

·        Age:  38

·        Juvenile Probation Officer


Camille Rodriguez

·        Age:  45

·        Podiatrist

·        Elected Fort Worth ISD School Board of Trustee, 2004-2008

Carlos Vasquez

Did not respond.

Question #1:  Why are you the best candidate to represent FWISD District 1?

Ramos:  I’m running for School Board because I believe that when parents get involved, things get better.  I’ve seen that in my own life as a juvenile probation officer and youth minister. I believe that if we create an environment of inclusion in our community, where parents are empowered to improve their schools and their children’s future, we can make sure every child has a chance at a bright future.

Rodriguez:  I am a product of the FWISD and know what it takes to succeed.  I want to give all children in our schools the same opportunities I received.  There had been a steady upward trend in student achievement when I left the board.  I was part of the board team that passed the largest capital improvement bond in the history of the district.  We approved the badly neglected and needed technology infrastructure for the system and every school.  We also created a community wide initiative, Project Prevail, to prevent and recover dropouts.  A high school redesign effort was also begun to refocus all of the middle and high schools on student achievement.  For example, PreAP and AP courses were required and implemented on all middle and high school campuses.

Question #2:  What changes would you like to see within FWISD that would improve the education of our students?

Ramos:  The first step is more parent engagement.  When parents, teachers, administrators and students come together as a community, our solutions reflect our community values.  And we need to make sure the FWISD budget reflects our values by prioritizing student achievement.  Right now we’re losing qualified educators because the School Board is silencing the voices of teachers and letting politics get in the way of our children’s future.

Rodriguez:  I would move to see at least one Board meeting a month devoted wholly and exclusively to discussions around teaching and learning; curriculum and instruction; student achievement issues.  That way, we can be informed as a Board governing body, but also, keep the public informed about all that is going on and ways they can get involved.  I will work with the superintendent and his team to ensure this remains the number one priority.  Nobody could honestly say how long.  It is a process, not an event.  Also, as mentioned, schools cannot do it alone.  Finally, the rating systems continually change as do the criteria accompanying them.  Right now, everything is in flux.  Tests are changing, acceptable passing rates are changing and the talk is about moving from Acceptable, etc. to A, B, C, etc.  Also, rather than just test scores as the benchmark, there will be multiple criteria.

Questions #3:  Explain your perspective on charter schools and school choice.  Would you support increasing either within FWISD?

Ramos:  I believe charter schools offer an important alternative to underserved communities.  Obviously, there are areas for improvement within the charter school system but I would rather work with them to improve public education than see them abolished.  School choice:  I oppose vouchers or any other proposal that diverts resources away from our public schools when they are in such dire need already. Taxpayer dollars should be invested in every child, not just a few.

Rodriguez:  I do not support charter schools or schools of choice outside of the programs within the FWISD.   I would not support increasing them in the FWISD.

FWISD District 9

Melody Palacios

Did not respond

Ashley Paz 

Did not respond.

Juan Rangel

·        Age:  65

·        Marketing and Management Consultant

·        Elected Fort Worth ISD School Board Trustee, 2000-Present

·        Previously ran for Fort Worth City Council


Question #1:  Why are you the best candidate for FWISD District 9?

Rangel:  I am running in order to continue to serve as a voice for our children.  I've lived in the Historic Fairmount Neighborhood of Fort Worth for 32 years.  My involvement in the community, and ceaseless advocacy on behalf of our children and neighborhoods, is a matter of record.  I work to solve problems for children and their parents throughout the school system.  I will continue the fight to reduce the dropout rate and have pioneered many efforts to address this problem.  I will continue to work to increase parental involvement in our schools.  I have a master’s degree in Public Administration and have extensive experience and knowledge of the educational system.  I understand the many needs of our changing communities and I work hard to get results.

Question #2:  What changes would you like to see within FWISD that would improve the education of our students?

Rangel:  The changes I have advocated for are now being implemented in the Five Year Strategic Plan throughout the Fort Worth ISD under our superintendent Walter Dansby.  Please refer to the plan for more details.

Questions #3:  Explain your perspective on charter schools and school choice.  Would you support increasing either within FWISD?

Rangel: Unfortunately, charter schools reduce needed funding for schools of public education that are very financially challenged.  School choice gives parents and taxpayers the power to choose what schools their children can attend, and is truly part of national school reform.  I have long supported and continue to support schools of choice throughout the FWISD.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.