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Three Questions To Help Evaluate Irving ISD Candidates

Six candidates are running for three seats on the Irving Independent School Board. 

KERA has reported that the election could lead to a shift of philosophy among a majority of board members and that may lead to significant changes for Irving schools.

KERA asked candidates about their qualifications, changes they support for the district and their perspective on charter schools.

Irving ISD Place 5

Manny Benevidez   Did not respond.

Gwen Craig

·        Age:  63

·        Retired Teacher

·        Elected Irving ISD Trustee, 2010-Present

Lee A. Mosty

·        Age:  61

·        Retired Teacher and Small Business Owner

Question #1:  Why are you the best candidate for your school district?

Craig:  I feel that I am the best candidate for the Irving ISD Board of Trustees District 5 because I have three years of board experience and neither of my opponents has served on the board.  My professional experience as an educator encompassed all ages from elementary to high school.  My strengths as an educator are my listening skills and myopen-mindedness.  I understand that there are two sides to every issue and I am willing to listen to everyone’s opinion before I make my decision.  Before I cast my vote, I ask myself how it will affect the education of our children.

Mosty:  I loved teaching so much and I am very proud of the way our schools were in years past.  I want to bring a new and fresh perspective to the board of trustees. I have taught school for 34 years at Elliott Elementary and Lamar Middle School in Irving.  The schools that I taught at were the first Exemplary, and National Blue Ribbon schools in Irving. After retiring, I substituted in all the high schools and middle schools and almost all the elementary schools.  Then for 3 years I was chosen to be a liaison (mentor) to first year teachers.  I am very knowledgeable of the strengths and weakness in our district today.  I am professionally qualified, committed to my community, and will show spectacular leadership to our schools.

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

Craig:  I believe that our district is headed in the right direction.  I would like to see our board and our superintendent collaborate together to make the best decisions that will enhance student performance, student success, student satisfaction, and teacher satisfaction.  Communication on every level needs to be enhanced.  Meaningful dialogue about what makes good schools great needs to be part of that communication.

Mosty:  When I look back over the 34 years of teaching at the most successful schools in Irving, I now realize what they had in common. We had a staff of teachers that loved to teach and were concerned about the student’s academic achievements. We had administrative support with our discipline, where the teachers were allowed to teach and the students were then able to learn. We had great guidance in curriculum provided by our own specialized consultants in Irving, we did not use CSCOPE.  The discipline was handled properly and fairly with all ethnic groups.  The teacher morale was fantastic and we had very few teachers leaving our schools.  These are the three things missing in our schools today. With poor teacher moral, we had over 16% of our teachers leaving our district last year.  The fair and equitable discipline is lacking in our schools.  Most importantly, we are lacking in a strong administrative leadership at the district level.  Modifying these three things will improve the education for all the children in Irving, and that is what is most important!

Question #3:  Explain your perspective on charter schools and school choice.  Would you support increasing wither within Irving ISD?

Craig:  We already promote some school choice in our district.  For instance, if a parent wants his/her child to be in a dual language, he/she can apply for a transfer to the school that offers dual language.  Jack E. Singley is a school of choice in our district.  Each of our high schools has a Signature program that students may choose to enroll.  I would never want our state to approve a voucher system that would take public dollars from public schools.   I believe we best meet the needs of children in our city through Irving ISD.  Charter schools usually serve a particular population.  Irving ISD must serve all populations.  

Mosty:  The public schools can never compete with all the other choices for education because we are meant to be ‘All things to All People’.  The public schools in Texas take the 5 million students at very early ages and keep them until twenty.  What ever your needs are we will provide them:  breakfast or lunch, bus, handicapped, any other language, speech problems, need a computer (our high school are furnished), a career path to a job, mentally disturbed, mentally challenged, mentally disabled, home bound, free SAT testing for college,  in jail, in the hospital,  or talented in the array of fine arts that we provide at little or no cost to the students, and need parenting skills, we offer that too after school and Saturdays at no cost.  We welcome charter schools as long as they can maintain the state’s standards of teaching expectations as well as services to the students.  Some charter schools have come and gone from Irving. We don’t need more charter schools, but better ones. In Irving, we do have students transferring to and from the charter schools all the time. Once again the public schools must accept any and all students, but the charter school’s doors do swing shut and are not always open for more students. Our doors are always open and we must hire more teachers if the classes are full in elementary.  Public or charter, they each have advantages, but what is best for your child is what is most important.  We all want them to be able to successfully learn and go to a place where learning takes place that matches their important needs and styles of learning.

Irving ISD Place 6

Norma C. Gonzales

·        Age:  42

·        Imaging Operations Specialist

Question #1:  Why are you the best candidate for your school district?

As a parent of three children (my oldest graduated from Singley Academy, my second child is a third grader at John Haley Elementary and my youngest is in Pre-K at Clifton Early Childhood Center) I have been, and continue to be, a dedicated parent volunteer.  For the past 19 years (eight in the IISD), I have been an active PTA member.  I am currently the President of the Clifton Family and Faculty Club, a member of the IISD District Improvement Committee, IISD Parent Advisory Committee, and Head Start of Greater Dallas Policy Council member, I consider it my job as a parent to support my children’s teachers and make sure they have everything they need to teach their students.  I will bring a fresh parental perspective to the Irving Independent School District Board of Trustees.

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

1.  The secretive and error filled CSCOPE curriculum must be removed from the Irving ISD.

2.  All students must be held to the same high disciplinary standard.

3.  We must provide an English immersion option for our non-English speaking students.

Question #3:  Explain your perspective on charter schools and school choice.  Would you support increasing wither within Irving ISD?

I support charter schools and school choice, which encompass a variety of potential reforms. Over 26 states have adopted many of these measures, which have been proven to improve educational achievement for students. Healthy competition would incentivize the IISD to focus on student achievement, prioritize tax-payer dollars, further reward great teachers and improve the overall quality of education.  “There are nearly 100,000 students on waiting lists in Texas, that are desperately seeking educational alternatives.  I do not believe the state should prevent them from finding a school that meets their needs. There are over 315,000 students, mostly African-American and Hispanics, trapped in what the government refers to as, ‘failing schools’.  I see no reason why the state should prevent any student from seeking educational options that will help them achieve academically, and consequently, have success in life.  Unfortunately in Texas, economically disadvantaged students have fewer opportunities than students from wealthier families.  This disparity is something of which I wholly object to, and find reprehensible.  Charter schools and school choice measures can work to change this, by equalizing educational opportunities for students regardless of a family’s economic status.

Irving ISD Place 7

Mike Gregory  Did not respond.

Randy Randle

·        Age: 56

·        Owner, Irving Counter Inc.

·        Previously served on Irving City Council 1987-91 and 1995-96

·        Website:


Question #1:  Why are you the best candidate for your school district?

Randle:  I am a lifelong resident of Irving.  My wife and I attended Irving schools and graduated from Nimitz High.  I have two sons who attended Irving schools and currently have a niece and nephew attending Irving Schools.  My entire adult life has been spent working with kids.  I have served in PTA, Booster Clubs, Campus Improvement Committees, and the District Improvement Committee.  Pony league baseball coach for 11 years and I have been teaching youth Sunday school for 28 years.  I am a candidate for positive change in our schools.

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

Randle:  There are some areas that our district is making progress, but I believe the overall direction needs some changes and we need to reprioritize our focus.  Some of the areas that need to be reevaluated are grading procedures, discipline policies, curriculum, and teacher support.  We must improve teacher morale by creating a system that will draw on the strengths of our teachers and one that will allow for more instruction time.  We need a redirection where all of our programs, policies, procedures and funding allocations are focused on student achievements.

Question #3:  Explain your perspective on charter schools and school choice.  Would you support increasing wither within Irving ISD?

Randle:  Education options, such as charter schools and school choice, help create a competitive environment for education excellence.  The district has more funding per student and more resources available than many of the other educational options.  We must do a better job of allocating our funds and resources to focus on student achievement.  When the board and administration succeed at this effort, then being competitive and providing an excellent education will not be an issue.  I would be open to the ideas of increasing education options, but it must be administered as not to deteriorate the public system as a whole.

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.
Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.