Election Q&As: Pearland ISD board of trustees Position 1



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Pearland ISD board of trustees Position 1






Toni Carter










Charles Gooden Jr.*






Occupation: chief operating officer at Charles D. Gooden Consulting Engineers, Inc.


Experience: over six years as a Pearland ISD trustee, Pearland ISD parent and volunteer, served on various boards in Pearland


Contact: 713-480-1333, www.charlesgooden.com




Why did you choose to run for the position?



CG: My children, and children in general, are why I chose to run for the School Board in 2014. I’m passionate about public education and all the opportunities it brings. I learned everything I could about the job of a school board trustee and felt that I was well-suited to fill the role. I am the incumbent in this race, but, I am not the incumbent that has fallen asleep at the wheel. I remain heavily engaged in the role of school board trustee. I’m asking for your vote to allow me a third term to bring my enthusiasm for serving children, communication skills, and financial acumen to bear for our local ISD. I thank my fellow Trustees for the honor of serving as Board President since May 2019. As Board President I’ve placed a priority on developing a new district strategic plan, communication with the administration and community at large, and tackling tough issues.



What is the biggest challenge PISD students will face in the classroom during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19, and how would you address it as a board member?



CG: The primary purpose of the public school system is to guarantee a general diffusion of knowledge to the population. The mission statement of Pearland ISD is to help every learner reach their highest potential. I view this question as asking what will hinder our students from achieving their highest potential. The biggest problems students will face are lack of 1) access to technology, 2) nutrition and 3) the connection to their teachers and peers. As a board member I have helped set the expectation that our students who qualify as economically disadvantaged will receive the attention and resources necessary to succeed. The district has continued to make pick-up meals available and began technology distribution to those who needed it most. We must remember that our teachers and counselors are what make this system work. During the pandemic our teachers and counselors have flipped classrooms and made themselves available via technology. As a board member I’ve sought to make sure that Pearland ISD retains and recruits a highly motivated workforce.



How has COVID-19 changed the goals and priorities of the district?



CG: Our top priority now is preventing the anticipated slide students will experience as a result of online education. Pearland’s instructional model depends heavily on small group instruction in helping students to catch up and maintain. Our Curriculum & Instruction Department has anticipated this challenge and has provided training to help teachers effectively work with our entire student population. We cannot allow this pandemic to result in generational education crisis. In addition to delivering quality instruction, we must also work to protect the mental health of our student population.



What can board members do to ensure that PISD students and families from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds have equitable access to the resources they need for success, particularly this year?



CG: As mentioned in a previous answer, Pearland ISD has sought to advance access to technology to those who needed it most. We know that providing equitable access to resources is a huge factor in improving student achievement. When the pandemic began in March, the district quickly made meals available to students to address their nutrition needs. I’m proud to be part of a board that has prioritized taking care of our most vulnerable populations. Please note that these needs cross ethnic and geographic boundaries. Our district must continue reach out to families to ensure needs are communicated and met.



How can board members assist in holding district leaders accountable for reforming necessary programs and services?



CG: No single board member gets a magic wand to shape the district as they see fit. Members must possess the qualities of perseverance and patience. I routinely have differences of opinion with administration and my fellow trustees. My reaction is never to launch personal attacks or cast selfish votes. I will always invite dialogue and seek learning in the midst of our differences. Our district is a wonderful, nurturing place but I will never drop my desire for continuous improvement in everything we do. We must continue to climb and enable our students to achieve and explore the world around them.



If elected, what are your priorities for your term?



CG: My first priority is making sure the Board of Trustees does its job of setting goals, monitoring District performance, and properly allocating resources. School boards are critical in setting the tone for student success, professional fulfillment for district staff, and compassion in serving every student in our beautifully diverse district. My second is to provide a framework for community and teacher involvement in district discussions. Pearland ISD is full of talent and enthusiasm to serve. Our district would benefit greatly from an established process for input to flow from the community and teaching staff to the board—while respecting chain-of-command. My third priority is to actively seek board-level policy changes to enhance our nurturing and safe learning environment.









Toni Carter






Occupation: homemaker


Experience: Pearland ISD parent and volunteer


Contact: 281-704-5526, www.toni4pearland.com




Why did you choose to run for the position?



TC: I’ve considered running for school board for many years. I’ve often thought the district could use the input of parents to better facilitate the sense of a team effort in educating the children. Often, the relationship between the administration and parents seems adversarial; a constant push and pull that does not benefit the students. In the past, these difficulties have led parents to turn to the media to amplify their concerns. I think we are all tired of seeing Pearland portrayed negatively on the news. Many of the recent problems could have been alleviated by directly communicating with the parents and be being transparent with the entire district community. The dismissiveness of LGBT students by the superintendent, especially in his blog post equating gay marriage to legalized pedophilia was also a large incentive for me to run.



What is the biggest challenge PISD students will face in the classroom during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19, and how would you address it as a board member?



TC: The biggest concern I’m seeing from fellow parents is the worry that the level of education their kids are receiving in the pandemic, whether face to face or online. Parents are concerned that their children will fall behind. As the parent of a senior, I worry that this will affect my son’s college trajectory. This is all obviously unprecedented, and I don’t fault the administration. I would advocate for fully synchronous class time, with a normal lesson plan. Now that the district is supplying technology and hotspots to each student, this should be the goal.



How has COVID-19 changed the goals and priorities of the district?



TC: Immeasurably. The challenge of meeting every student’s need when the child is not in the building is huge. Admirably, the board has been able to consider this challenge while still attending to the normal agenda, especially when being hamstrung by the state for many of the decisions. It must be quite difficult to enact an entire educational overhaul while still approving budget measures and overseeing human resource decisions.



What can board members do to ensure that PISD students and families from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds have equitable access to the resources they need for success, particularly this year?



TC: The one silver lining of the pandemic I can see is that the needs of economically disadvantaged students have become clearer. Beyond the need for technology, however, the district needs to consider the fact that some students may not have a quiet place in which to work, and some students are reluctant to “show” their spaces via webcam. I believe the district has a ways to go in dealing with students of different racial backgrounds having the same opportunities for success. The percentage of students of color who receive disciplinary action is not proportional to the general population. Some of the dress code rules and teacher actions are, perhaps unintentionally, discriminatory. I would like to see more attention to these issues.



How can board members assist in holding district leaders accountable for reforming necessary programs and services?



TC: The attitudes and success of the district flow from the top downward. The board has the ability to hire and fire, and the ability to approve budget concerns. Those are the main tools in demanding accountability.



If elected, what are your priorities for your term?



TC: I want to see PISD’s incredible academic accomplishments be the only reason we are in the news. I intend to push for more diversity awareness, consequences for teachers and administrators that violate rules regarding public education, and increased communication with parents in the district. I intend to address the enormous amount of educational time wasted on test prep. I intend to bring research to the board to consider the pros and cons of limiting AP classes. I plan to organize a district-wide volunteer force to address the disparities between schools when it comes to PTA and parental support.



Candidate answers have been edited for length and clarity.
By Haley Morrison
Haley Morrison came to Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after graduating from Baylor University. She was promoted to editor in February 2019. Haley primarily covers city government.


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