Outside Money, By: Roxanne Evans

Why would folks from New York City be interested in trying to influence the outcome of an Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees election in East Austin?

It is part of a troubling pattern of influence by the alleged reform movement that is pushing charter schools, vouchers and privatization. The benefactors who gave us Teach for America have created Leadership for Educational Equity. Leadership for Educational Equity claims it is dedicated to “empowering Teach for America corps members and alumni to grow as leaders.”  It wants to grow leaders such as David “D” Thompson, a candidate in the District 1 trustee race. He has received approximately 40 percent of his campaign donations from out of state. This makes one wonder who he would listen to, were he to get elected.

District 1 residents want a trustee who will listen to us. And, for more than 40 years, District 1 residents have developed a solid track record of electing strong, representatives without outside influence. 

  • In 1968, former State Rep. Wilhelmina Delco became the first African American elected in Travis County when she was elected to the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees.  
  • District 1 voters also elected the late Rev. Marvin C. Griffin, the iconic pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. He served the community and the school district well by being a steady hand when the school district was in the first phase of desegregation. 
  •  The late veteran educator Bernice Hart was elected by District 1 voters. Her legacy is still felt in the school district, and a Northeast Austin elementary school bears her name.
  •  Loretta Edelen, daughter of Wilhelmina Delco, and a strong education advocate on her own.
  •  Current trustee Cheryl Bradley was also elected to the District 1 seat without outside influence or guidance

There is much work to be done in District 1. The remedy for District 1 public schools needs to be crafted by a District 1 trustee in concert with District 1 families. New York equity firms and corporations need not apply for this work.

District 1 does not need outside interests telling us how to vote, or who to vote for. This district has done well electing its own and it deserves to be able to keep that electoral autonomy.