The Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) held a forum April 12 for candidates for the Humble ISD school board. Topics ranged from how to better prepare students for next steps, transgender sporting participation, volunteering, Title 1 schools, diversity and technology.
Each candidate was given one minute to answer the posed questions to the best of their ability. The talent pool was vast, as the candidates each came with differing strengths, ideas for change and backgrounds to benefit the students of the district.
Several questions had the candidates unified in response, such as diversity and inclusion, transgender sporting participation and pandemic handling.
Several of the panelists stood together on diversity and inclusion, reiterating that “every voice matters” and that bullying is merely an attempt to create an unequal situation.
“Our district needs more Hispanics and other minorities in leadership to keep relevant and to be a voice for the underserved,” stated Liz Diaz, candidate for Position 3.
Another trending topic was transgender sporting participation. While nearly every candidate mentioned the need for every student to have an equal chance of academic and sporting success, together they felt that transgendered individuals should not compete on girls’ sports teams.
Another point of interest centered around pandemic handling. Almost every candidate thanked the teachers, students and parents for their persistence, patience and involvement when it came to school closures, changes of locale, A/B schedules and remote learning and technologies.
Other questions had the candidates divided in response, such as performance-based pay for teachers and ways to get “left behind” students up-to-speed post pandemic.
On a question regarding whether teachers and staff should be paid based on test scores or performance, the panel was divided. Robert Sitton, incumbent for Pos. 1, stated, “During the past 10 years, Humble ISD staff members have received a 30% salary increase. We are proud to say that we have remained competitive and remained a high-performing district — even through many tough economic times — including Hurricane Harvey, Imelda and most recently, the pandemic.”
Ken Kirchhofer, candidate for Pos. 4 and an Humble graduate, answered the same question and took a more future-based approach by declaring, “We need to give our teachers more pay and make them want to come to work. If they enjoy their job, this will be evident in the performance of our students.”
When asked about how to “raise the bar” for students that may have missed learning opportunities due to COVID-19, Martina Lemond Dixon, incumbent for Pos. 5, stated, “I can boldly state that the board is already working to close the academic gap for our student population. We have gained visibility down to the student level and have had discussions about the creation of personalized student plans to aid in specific successes.”
Upon being asked for her ideas of catching students up post-pandemic, Andrea Glazebrook, also vying for Pos. 5, stated, “As a teacher and long-term community resident since ‘74, I feel we need to help parents teach more at home and pay our teachers more money to retain talented educators.”
When asked a similar question regarding teaching kids about information lost during the outbreak, Wilbert Baker, candidate for Pos. 3, stated, “There have been far too many people out of the communication loop. As leaders, we need to make sure parents and students are on the same page.”
At the conclusion of the evening, every candidate was presented with an opportunity to add anything in support of their candidacy to help voters decide the best fit. “I have a passion for the youth, and I want to give back,” concluded Pos. 3 candidate Donte Washington.
Jesse Givens, also vying for Pos. 3, rounded out the meeting by stating, “I am an Humble alumnus that is master’s educated with a servant heart.”
Early voting began April 19 with Election Day on May 1.
The video recording of the ATPE candidate forum is posted at humbleisd.net/ATPE and will remain available until after the election.