Focus Daily News sent the following questions to ALL candidates running for Midlothian ISD School Board. We do not edit the answers in any way and publish them exactly as they were submitted to us.
Midlothian ISD School Board Place 4 Candidate: Mike Dillow
Please provide a high-level overview of your past engagement/experiences, and those of your children, with regards to the school district for which you are running for schoolboard trustee.
Midlothian ISD Place 4
My wife and I have lived, and paid taxes, in the MISD for 30 years. Also, we now have grandchildren attending MISD schools.
I care about our student and that’s why I have been involved with the Ellis A&M Club Scholarships. This is a private group which gives students scholarships to Texas A&M University. I’ve been part of this organization for decades. I’ve also taught public speaking as well as other topics to students.
What is your vision for education in our district/community? More financial investment, expanding academic programs like JROTC & CTE, be specific.
I will work toward getting back to basics to make sure that our students can read, write, do math, understand our nation’s history, find North Korea on a map, and be enthralled with science. We must also prepare for the expansive growth we are seeing in a way that allows us to build quality educational facilities in the most cost effective method possible while not strapping new or higher tax rates on present or
future generations of our citizens.
I firmly believe in CTE or vocational education as it used to be known. When I was a public school student I was the beneficiary of such educational opportunities.
What does advocacy mean to you and how will you advocate for the students & teachers?
As a MISD School Board member I will be a strong advocate for parental rights, working toward transparency in curriculum so that parents know what is being taught and how they can be involved in their child’s education. I will be an advocate for our taxpayers whose taxes keep going up while our MISD scores are going down. I will do
that by working to lower their tax rates. I will also advocate for our great MISD teachers so that they can teach our students more of the basics and prepare them for 21st century jobs without requiring them to take precious time to teach a social agenda such as CRT or SEL.
In such a competitive marketplace, how will you tackle teacher and staff recruitment and retention? Have you spoken with teachers in the district about their concerns/challenges and do you feel like they are being heard?
Finding quality teachers is worth the search. I want to make sure that our compensation plans are competitive and that we take care of our quality teachers. Yes, I’ve spoken to some of our teachers, and I am told that they want to the opportunity to do what they do best, teach. They do not like social curriculums taking invaluable time away from simply teaching their students.
Some teachers feel they are being heard and some do not. However, when I talk with them, I certainly hear about their desires and needs.
When dealing with school finances, approving a budget and set tax rates, how do you honor the taxpayer as you consider district’s fund balance?
Most moved to Midlothian because of our schools and it continues to be one of the reasons we are experiencing rapid growth. However, when you combine declining test scores and rising property taxes you have a dangerous situation. We will experience lowering property values if our schools are no longer one of the best systems not only in Ellis County, but in Texas. We must reverse that potential trend by having rising test scores and by lowering tax rates. Our parents must see and believe that our education system is driven by fiscally responsible people who understand that our taxpayers cannot simply “adjust” to higher tax bills every year. I will do everything I can to manage our budgets with an eye for cutting fat whenever possible and working to lower tax rates.
What is your stance on Equity in Education? In addition to the role of the DEI, what additional steps should be taken to meet the needs of EVERY Student in this District?
Like all Americans I believe in the equality of opportunity. No matter a student’s background, all should be given the best opportunity to learn. I cannot imagine any family, regardless of background or socioeconomic situation, who would not be elated when their student brings home higher grades in math or is able to explain to their
parents that they have learned about the solar system and then explain it to them!
Further, these educational opportunities should be open to the most diverse students for their personal benefit and our nation’s greatness.
Do you agree with how the District responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic and if not, what would you have done differently?
Hindsight is always good. I fault no one for the policies made at the beginning of Covid-19. But now we know the facts, and I will not support forced masking or closing our schools again. If a parent decides that a child should wear a mask, then that is between the child and the parent.
What do you plan to do to address training at the campus levels to make sure IEP and or 504s are implemented?
I believe all students deserve academic education which includes students that have challenges such as special needs and students with disabilities. IEP and 504s are to assist in the education of special needs student and students with disabilities. As a board member I will review the new superintends strategic plan to ensure our special need students and those with disabilities are part of the plan to bring excellence back to our schools. We must be educating all students across the board to ensure all students can succeed.
What are your views on banning certain books from classrooms and libraries? What in your opinion, makes a book “okay” to ban?
Who could justify the book that was removed from our MISD Library? That animated and illustrated book showed graphic homosexual sex with cartoon depictions. This book would not be allowed to be read in a court of law, at a church, synagogue, or most other public places, yet there it sat for who know how long in our school’s library. Yes, pornographic books must be kept out of our MISD facilities.
How do you rank social emotional learning in the school board priorities, especially considering struggles due to covid?
Learning emotions is not the role of the public school system. The role of values and teaching children how to appropriately manage their emotions is the role of the parent(s) not the school system. Social Emotional Learning; involves exposing a child to emotions then teaching them how to manage those emotions that were invoked.
The role of the public school system is to teach our children academics, reading writing math and science. I understand that children have emotions and a teacher will see those and will have to address those, I have six children, I understand they have lots of emotions. Those are natural emotions that the child has to learn to overcome with the direction of the parents the teacher will absolutely play a role in that.
Although shifting our public education system to focus on learning emotions verse education is determinate to our society and not what I believe is best for our children. When government gets involved things go amiss quickly. For example, in the American Rescue Plan of 2021 there was allotted $12.4B of which about $2.48B must be
allocated toward Social Emotional Learning/CRT which includes “therapy for White Educators programs.” That’s just wrong and it’s racist.
Our country has recently seen a movement to introduce politics into every facet of society, including public education and school board campaigns and operations, which have traditionally been non-partisan. What role, if any, do you believe politics plays in the role of a school board trustee?
The school board race is non-partisan and I support that. However, affiliation with a political party may offer a view of one’s philosophy. My opponent and I claim to be Republican, but after both of us were interviewed by the Young Republicans of Ellis County, knowing that an endorsement might follow, they endorsed me because they
agreed that my views of focusing on the basics of reading, writing, math, science, and skills for the 21st century made me the best candidate.
This doesn’t mean partisanship has entered a nonpartisan arena. What it means is that a group of voting citizens banded together and felt that I would better serve on the MISD Board than my opponent. All people have a right to affiliate with any group they desire and to endorse whomever they desire, and I support that. I do not support making school board races between two parties.
School board trustees are elected to be leaders and to handle what can be difficult decisions at times. Please describe your leadership style-provide an example.
The role of the school board trustee is to represent the community of parents and taxpayers, often referred to as stakeholders, by ensuring that the superintendent is running the district in the same values that represent the community and ensuring that the district is being fiscally responsible with the communities tax dollars. I plan to
be a trustee that leads the charge in being the advocate for the community, being transparent with the community and being a voice for the community. My style of leadership is to lead by example, to remain calm focused and be a strong stable trustee that the community can consistently count on.