When the members of the City of Richmond School Board convene their first meeting of 2014 tonight, School Board insiders say the first order of business will be to elect Donald Coleman, current vice-chair and 7th-District member, to serve as chairman for the coming year. Coleman is replacing the current school board chair, Jeffrey Bourne, 3rd-District.
As of 3 p.m., sources on the school board were unsure whether Kristen Larson, 4th-District member, or Mamie Taylor, 5th-district member, will garner a majority of votes to be elected to serve as vice-chair. Shonda Harris-Muhammed, who also wanted the vice-chairmanship, bowed out today and told colleagues she is supporting Taylor's bid for the position.
Once the new chair and vice-chair are chosen, the board's agenda has a few perfunctory housekeeping items to resolve, prior to going into closed session to discuss the details of the employment contract the board is expected to sign with Dr. Dana Bedden, chosen last month to be the district's new superintendent. Bedden is expected to be sworn in as Superintendent on January 13, 2014.
Contacted before convening the Student Disciplinary committee meeting today, Coleman seemed pleased and circumspect when asked about his ascent to the chairmanship. "I am pleased that I have earned the confidence of my colleagues and I do hope that at the end of the evening I will be the new chair." Coleman said that he hopes to bring "greater communication and cooperation" to his chairmanship in the coming year.
Outgoing school board chairman Bourne acknowledged that while the last year has been difficult, the board has much to be proud about and said that he is looking forward to finding his voice as an advocate and activist on behalf of the city's children. "For the sake of all of Richmond's children, we need to redouble our efforts and show everyone that we can all work together for the greater good," he noted.
Check back later for more developments on this story and for details about the contract Bedden is expected to sign tonight. Meanwhile, read the following research about Richmond's new Superintendent, Dr. Dana T. Bedden.
Editorial: Irving ISD incumbents will represent all students
May 3, 2011 By 5 Comments
The Irving ISD races are worth a close watch. The challengers of current IISD Place 1 trustee Nancy L. Jones and Place 2 trustee Adrian “A.D.” Jenkins both are proponents of English immersion. This process differs from bilingual education in that English Language Learners comprehend English without the aid of their native language. In some cases, the students are distanced from their culture and linguistic background. In order to cut the fat out of their budgets, some school districts have considered eliminating expensive bilingual education initiatives and opting for cheaper immersion programs. The election of Steven Jones and Marilyn Gail Conder Wells to Place 1 and Place 2 trustee seats, respectively, could be the death sentence for bilingual programs and the board’s move toward a body that represents the district’s diverse population. Therefore, the North Dallas Gazette’s endorsement for Irving ISD Places 1 and 2 go to incumbents Nancy Jones and Jenkins.
Steven Jones wants to serve the best interest of those who want to continue to live in the 1960s and keep district the way it was. Recently, the Place 1 candidate came under attack for questioning a Hispanic Irving ISD staff member because of the way she pronounced her name. Personal attacks as a means to spew ignorance and disrespect is not warranted. Steven Jones is playing too much into the hands of politics, feeding the egos of those who fear the day when they are not the majority (that day has come), and lacks the competence to make the right decision to help children.
Steven Jones wrote in his candidate profile to The Dallas Morning News that he would “do everything … to make English the language of the IISD and ensure we give every student the number one tool to succeed in the United States of America – a mastery of the English language.” His comments beg to question Steven Jones’ ideology on a student’s right to a public school education. There is not a problem with teaching Spanish speakers English, but there is no justification in ordering a certain population to abandon their heritage, an attribute of English immersion programs. The endorsement of these programs is assimilation at its worst.
Second, the election of two more Caucasian school board members defies the importance of diversity on the board of a school district that is 70 percent Hispanic (IISD Superintendent Dana Beeden is an African American). In early 2010, a federal judge struck down a lawsuit filed by Manuel Benavidez that challenged the school board’s at-large election system. It is not hard to imagine that should the board revert to all Caucasian once again, another lawsuit will follow.
Incumbents Nancy Jones and Jenkins understand it is not representing a chosen few that helps the children of Irving ISD. Steven Jones and Wells have yet to comprehend division achieves very little. The board of trustees needs individuals who will embrace diversity, not sweep it under the rug. It also requires leaders who never forget doing what is best for all students is the desired end result.