The EPISD – CREEED Controversy

Charter schools aren’t the problem.

This story from KTSM.com:

El Paso businessmen and board members of a nonprofit supporting the implementation of charter schools into the region are pouring big money into a political action committee ahead of the El Paso Independent School District board elections.

Several board directors of the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development have contributed over $60,000 into the Kids First of El Paso Political Action Committee, according to a campaign finance report.

All major directors have made contributions to the PAC except for Amy O’Rourke, who is the choose to excel director for the nonprofit.

CREEED Chariman Richard Castro, Vice-chair Woody Hunt, treasurer Raymond Palacios, secretary and executive director Eduardo Rodriguez, data director Manuel Soto Jr. are listed among contributors to the PAC.

. . .

Josh Acevedo, an incumbent running for reelection in District 3, says he sees the influence of dollars from the PAC as problematic due to the individuals who are contributing to it. The board of directors of CREEED are supporting the expansion of charter schools in El Paso, which pulls resources and damages service to the community, he added.

A lot of my faithful readers have jumped into Mr. Acevedo’s narrative.

I’ve never met Mr. Acevedo, but he seems like a nice guy.

The El Paso Independent School district, however, still has some work to do to earn my trust.

EPISD might as well stand for El Paso Independent Scandal District. The last two Superintendents resigned under clouds. The first one went to prison, and the latest – Juan Cabrera – got fired for allegedly moonlighting for an on-line charter school out of California. Mr. Cabrera was originally hired by a Board of Managers led by former El Paso Mayor Dee Margo before he was mayor.

Remember? EPISD closed Beall and Burleson. EPISD put their bus center on where Bowie’s baseball diamond used to be.

EPISD hoodwinked the voters into passing a $667 million bond issue for facilities in a district that is losing a thousand students a year. “It’s for the children,” they told us. Really it was for the local construction industry.

The reason to be wary of the Directors of CREEED donating to the campaigns of EPISD’s School Board isn’t because they support charter schools. The reason to be wary is that some members of the CREEED’s Board of Directors have a record of using the mantle of public benefit for personal gain.

Their track record makes me leery of their motives, and their participation.

The CREEED Board of Directors is chock full of those nice misunderstood people whose honest mistakes always fall on their side of the fence. Philanthropists. Financial advisors. Lawyers. “And some, I assume, are good people.” But I’m a little concerned that the CREEED Board of Directors might not have the best interests of the public school systems at heart.

The El Paso Independent School District is pretty good these days. The Texas Tribune, using data from the Texas Education Agency, gives the district a “B”.

Charter school systems in El Paso get grades from an “A” (Harmony), to an “F” (La Fe).

As a parent of school age children, I want my kids to get the best education available to them. I bet there’s not a parent in El Paso who feels differently. Kids can get a good education at the EPISD. But kids do get a good education at a number of private and charter schools in the area.

The educations kids in the public school districts get are not equal. And they shouldn’t be. Kids are different. Kids have different abilities and interests. And the EPISD has responded to those differences by offering different education pathways, with magnet schools, and early college credits.

I believe in markets. I believe in competition. I believe that the influx of charter schools has made EPISD step up its game.

In El Paso, campaign contributions seem to have induced local governments to tweak the markets. To pick winners and losers.

I don’t know what the Directors of CREEED hope to gain from the contributions to the EPISD School Board candidates. Maybe they want to have a seat at the table when the new Superintendent is selected. Maybe they want contracts for their contractor friends. Maybe they want cut rate deals on the facilities that EPISD is aging out of.

Or maybe they see their grasp of local government institutions slipping, and it scares them.

3 comments

  1. The bond money was for the teachers, not the construction industry. To claim that EPISD cares at all about local architects and building companies is ridiculous.

    The bond money covered a huge hole in that the districts, all of them, neglected their facilities in order to pay ever higher wages to teachers who are not concerned with teaching our children. Every year more money goes to teachers who provide worsening results while they actively try to avoid any scrutiny at all. Teachers are the hero of every story teachers tell.

    The district got facilities reconstructed and teachers got raises without any attendant fuss about how the buildings got to be in such bad shape despite taxpayers being charged for maintenance.

    Thomas Sowell wrote in 2004, “Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.”

    1. Officer Johnny, you are misinformed. None of the bond money went to teachers’ salaries. All of that $667 million went to facilities, except for some that got spent on laptops.

      Thanks for playing.

    2. I would tend to say that it does appear that there is a whole lot of money being flooded into the huge bond projects and those contractors do in fact greatly benefit. The corruption is evident in the many scandals, let us not forget that. I have researched these magnet schools and charter schools and let’s face it there is corruption there as well. I believe that recently the IDEA president stepped down amidst one of these scandals. This is combined with a long list of scandals in this district many of them involving fraud and corruption charges and yep some of it just happened to be related to charter schools in some way.

      I would just like to point out that many of these projects are approved by the city council, yes the voters supposedly approved all of these very expensive improvements to the schools by way of bonds. Are all of these people homeowner’s and tax payers? There is a history of getting non homeowners to get out and vote for expensive projects that certain people want to be built in the city to raise the tax base that often lead to open corruption when those voters do not have to foot the bill in the form of paying property taxes, many of them rent. This seems to be something that the city is unwilling to admit that taxpayers feel it in their pockets when they are paying more in taxes for their homes than is being applied to their principles. It has been said that those school projects that were voted on supposedly by taxpayers would cost each and every person in El Paso up to a million dollars per person. Can every person afford to pay that in their lifetimes? No. You have many outside influencers here it appears – there is always some involvement from high powered people in Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio when they do not live here nor do they have to try to pay off their home here when the principle never goes down because of the high rate of taxes.

      They may have supposedly set aside money in these bonds for teachers but honestly there are so many funds coming in to set aside for that including property taxes. A Bond is a debt. It is not paid out in advance ,this is paid out by taxpayers over time. To suggest that a bond is for teacher’s salaries is not accurate, a bond is for a school to fund various school projects that is an IOU to pay with taxpayer money later on. Property taxes are allocated for teacher salaries, this is well known fact.

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