For HISD, part 2

Sue Deigaard and Holly Flynn Vi­laseca are uniquely qual­i­fied to make a dif­fer­ence.

Houston Chronicle - - WORLD -

Hous­ton ISD, Trustee, District V: Sue Deigaard

Four qual­i­fied can­di­dates are run­ning for an open seat in this south­west Hous­ton district, which cov­ers West Univer­sity, Bel­laire and Mey­er­land. Yet Sue Deigaard stands above them all. Her knowl­edge of this district is so deep and broad that she talks with the au­thor­ity of a trustee, even though this is her first run for of­fice.

For Deigaard, 48, it is all about HISD, and she said dur­ing her meet­ing with the edi­to­rial board that if we found an­other can­di­date more qual­i­fied, we should sup­port that per­son. You’d be hard pressed to find any­one more pre­pared for any elec­tion.

The daugh­ter of a high-school dropout, Deigaard was the first mem­ber of her fam­ily to grad­u­ate from col­lege. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a de­gree from Rice Univer­sity, she worked in alumni af­fairs at her alma mater for more than five years. But vol­un­teer ex­pe­ri­ence sets her apart.

For more than a decade, Deigaard has been an ad­vo­cate for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion to be­ing a near fix­ture at board meet­ings and other district func­tions, she serves as a par­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tive on HISD’s district ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee and chairs the com­mu­ni­ca­tion com­mit­tee for the Arts Ac­cess Ini­tia­tive, which has a goal of ex­pand­ing arts ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties to all K-12 stu­dents at HISD. She has also or­ga­nized and fa­cil­i­tated com­mu­nity fi­nance and en­gage­ment meet­ings for ed­u­ca­tion ad­vo­cacy groups and school dis­tricts.

Each of Deigaard’s op­po­nents would also bring a needed skill or ap­proach to the board. Kara DeRocha, an en­vi­ron­men­tal en­gi­neer, would make a strong ad­vo­cate for fam­i­lies with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion needs. Susan Shafer, a teacher and librarian, would of­fer valu­able in­sights as to stu­dent learn­ing.

We were par­tic­u­larly im­pressed by Sean Cheben, a chem­i­cal en­gi­neer, who would fo­cus on sound bud­get­ing and has what it takes to make an out­stand­ing board mem­ber some­day.

Hous­ton ISD, Trustee, District VI: Holly Flynn Vi­laseca

Holly Flynn Vi­laseca was ap­pointed to the board in Jan­uary when long-time trustee Greg Mey­ers re­signed, and she de­serves to serve a full term. Vi­laseca has gained a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a steady hand and rea­soned voice on the board rep­re­sent­ing her west Hous­ton district, which in­cludes the En­ergy Cor­ri­dor and Sharp­stown.

Vi­laseca, 36, is the daugh­ter of im­mi­grants and was the first in her fam­ily to at­tend col­lege. She be­gan her ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion as a Teach for Amer­ica Corp. mem­ber and went on to teach bilin­gual and dual lan­guage early child­hood classes for six years. She earned a mas­ter’s de­gree from Columbia Univer­sity in so­cial and or­ga­ni­za­tional psy­chol­ogy and cur­rently works for a non­profit in the ed­u­ca­tion space.

Her op­po­nent, Robert Lundin, has an out­stand­ing re­sume as well. He has served as long-time ed­u­ca­tor and for­mer HISD em­ployee who re­signed to run in this race. Not only does he hold a doc­tor­ate from Van­der­bilt Univer­sity in ed­u­ca­tional lead­er­ship, but he also serves as a fac­ulty mem­ber at Rice Univer­sity. In ad­di­tion, Lundin has an im­pres­sive list of en­dorse­ments, in­clud­ing for­mer U.S. Sec­re­tary of Ed­u­ca­tion Dr. Rod Paige. Lundin and Vi­laseca are flu­ent in both English and Span­ish.

The two can­di­dates, who see eye to eye on pol­icy, dif­fer on Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Car­ranza’s pro­gram for turn­ing around his­tor­i­cally low-per­form­ing schools, “Achieve 180.” While Vi­laseca is sup­port­ive of the new model, Lundin wor­ries that the su­per­in­ten­dent’s plan to move high-per­form­ing teach­ers out of ex­ist­ing cam­puses into these schools will fail to build long-term ca­pac­ity.

Our con­cern about Lundin’s can­di­dacy mir­rors his con­cern about the Achieve 180 plan. Vi­laseca is do­ing a good job. Vot­ing her out af­ter less than a full year on the job is not the way to build the ca­pac­ity of the board.

At­tor­ney Daniel Al­bert, who served as chief of staff for District F Coun­cil Mem­ber Steve Le, is also run­ning but faces a steep learn­ing curve on district is­sues.

Lundin should cast his hat in the ring again, but this elec­tion should go to Vi­laseca.

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