Q&A Ed Harrison Midlothian ISD Board Candidate Place 7

Ed Harrison headshot
Photo courtesy Ed Harrison
  1. Why are you running for school board, and what are your qualifications?

I am running for my 4 (soon to be 5) grandchildren who attend MISD, and for all MISD students, and for the betterment of our students, their families, and taxpayers.

We moved to the MISD 22 years ago because of the quality schools.  About 3 years ago I began personally attending or watching Board meetings online and it became apparent that our district was changing.

Our student test scores are either declining or remaining unchanged, yet property taxes have soared.

I believe we can do a better job of helping our students read at grade level (something only 57% of them now do).

I am concerned about politically-correct agendas like CRT or woke ideologies creeping into our schools, and pornographic books in libraries need to be removed.  I will make every effort to protect our students, especially girls’ sports, from these ideologies.

My business experience, having founded my own company in 1983 and running it for 38 years, makes me the only candidate to have a private sector profession outside of public education.

While our priority must always be the education of students, business experience is extremely advantageous for an MISD Trustee because the MISD is a very large enterprise, one of the largest employers in Midlothian.

Therefore, my real-world business experience in dealing with thousands of employees, and contractors, negotiating with all levels of government, serving on numerous boards of directors, and being appointed to the Texas Legislature’s Task Force on Affordable Housing (where I was elected Chairman) allows me to be an asset on the MISD Board.

Additionally, I am the only candidate to have served for 15 years as an Adjunct Professor at Dallas Baptist University, so I understand the classroom environment, creating lesson plans, and student grading.

I understand service to my country. I am the only candidate who is a military veteran, having served in the Navy.

  1. Is there a specific issue that motivates you to serve on the school board? If so, please identify the issue and your concerns.

I believe that assuring student safety while at school and raising our static or declining student test scores are top priorities.  In addition, we must get back to basics by focusing on math, science, history, and skills to prepare students for the 21st century.

Curricula must be transparent to parents, and no student survey data mining should be done without the full knowledge and consent of the parents.

We must retain our longest-serving and best teachers, making sure they are safe and supported while in their classroom, and we must raise their pay without a tax increase.

  1. In what school district or community activities/organizations have you been involved?

For the last 10 years, as a proud MISD grandparent, I have attended nearly every grandpals week at McClatchey, and more recently at Longbranch, purchasing many, many books.  I’ve attended numerous school festivals, plays, sporting events, and Christmas programs.   Additionally, we have always been donors for school fundraising events.

The activity I deeply appreciated was the veteran’s day observations at Walnut Grove Middle School which went far in teaching our students about our military and the great price paid for our freedom.

I’ve also been a Sunday school teacher in two different churches in our community and active in local politics since the early 90’s.

  1. What attributes and behaviors are essential for school board members?

Board members must be able to make wise and prudent decisions for the betterment of students, parents, and taxpayers, and be willing to stand alone at times for their principles.

When fiscal issues are considered, the Board should remember that it is not their money. It came from hard-working taxpayers.

A Board member must never forget that he or she is the people’s representative to the MISD and that the Board, through the superintendent, has oversight of the ISD, so there must be collaboration and mutual respect between both.

  1. What is the public relations role of the board?

Just like Board members of other entities, a Board member, while being the positive representative to our community, must also have a realistic perspective of the areas of concern.

  1. What is the best way to address differences of opinion on the board or between the board and the administration?

A confident Board member must be willing to politely, but passionately at times, argue for the correct and proper policies.  However, one must never forget that if the decision is against them, they must still maintain a proper working and professional relationship with all involved.

  1. In your view, what has the district done well over last five years? What has the district done poorly that you would change?

Considering the vast number of teachers leaving the MISD, the district has done a good job filling most of those vacancies and they have developed a capable staff and array of teachers.

Our focus should have stayed on academics and quality teacher retention.

  1. What should your school district do to better prepare students as citizens?

Teach students American history and about the cost that has been paid by millions who sacrificed much, some their very lives, to preserve and protect our freedom; and how quickly a nation can lose their freedom.

We must teach students that with every “right” they enjoy as an American there also comes a responsibility to not abuse that right.

  1. What do you see as the major issue(s) facing your school district? Public education?

Student safety and security while at school.

Raising student test scores.

Prudent and conservative funding of the MISDs growth.

Frugal management of our taxpayer’s money.

Empowering parents through transparency in curricula.

Retaining our best and most experienced teachers.

  1. What is your view of school choice?

I am a proponent of local public schools. However, this is not a local school board issue but one for the State Legislature.

I am committed to MISD, as I have 4, soon to be 5, grandchildren in it. I have paid taxes to it for 23 years, and I am a candidate for local school board.  My concern is local, not statewide.

  1. What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now? How do you think those needs should be addressed?

We presently have a $600M debt.  How do we prudently fund the new schools we need without incurring a potential large tax increase?

We need at least one new elementary school quickly due to growth. How we fund that school is now in the hand of the voters. They will decide.

  1. As a board member, where would you look to make budget cuts?

In any government entity there is fat. I’ve spoken to numerous MISD employees who say there is much waste that can be trimmed.

For example, why should taxpayers be forced to pay dues to any private association (not a state entity) that promotes values not in concert with the values of our community?  Membership in private associations should be paid for from private funds, not by the taxpayers. That is what every doctor does when he or she pays their American Medical Association annual dues.  This one change will save taxpayers at least a quarter million dollars a year.

  1. What changes should be made on the state and local level regarding public education?

Very recently a bill has moved forward that adds $1.4B for teacher salaries.  This is a historic high amount and welcomed and needed.

  1. What specific steps would you take as a school board member to improve transparency and make school district information more widely available?

Move public testimony to the top of Board meeting agendas so students, parents and taxpayers are not forced to wait for multiple hours before they can give their 3-minute comments to the Board.

Make curricula transparent to parents, and no student survey data mining should be done without the full knowledge and consent of the parents.

When a presentation is made by the staff to the Board, any board member should be able to request that a presentation of equal length but of a contrary perspective also be presented to the board.

  1. Is there anything you’d like to add?

I am running because I want our schools to honor the values that made it great, by raising test scores, empowering families, and lower taxes.  We can do better.

I am running for my grandchildren, and for all MISD students, so that they will be well-educated, giving them a better chance to succeed in our great country regardless of background or what career they select.

Thank you for reading this!  Now, I need your vote. For more information visit at HarrisonForMidlothianISD.com