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Southeast Bexar County Awareness: Susan Richardson, SEA Rep., Youtube campaigning at Southside ISD

Updated on May 16, 2015

Southside Education Association Representative

Susan Richardson
Susan Richardson
SEA Rep. Susan Richardson and Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn working to get the "team" on board.
SEA Rep. Susan Richardson and Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn working to get the "team" on board.

Will History Repeat Itself?

The last time Southside ISD had elections, the two biggest proponents for the "team" were Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn and Susan Richardson, the Southside Education Association Representative.

Just before the candidates were to turn in their packets for the current election; the two women once again in the board room were discussing the elections and their "team" being ready to go..

Last week, Ms. Richardson not only put together a support video in the guise of spreading information on the candidates; she would not endorse Theo Castillo, however, she did say that she would be helping campaign for him.

Susan Richardson in the video endorses candidates, Daniel Rodriguez and John Wood because they have been "friends to us", referring to the Southside Education Association. No other explanation as to what they have provided for the district or the association. No explanation as to why they didn't give an interview themselves for this campaign project of hers. She did say that she would have a meeting in her classroom at the school district.

It was embarrassing to see a representative of an organization such as this who did not take the time or make the effort to learn how to pronounce a candidates name. Spelling Mr. Bouldin's name on camera.

As for Position 6, Cantu vs. Guzman, she would not support either candidate and would leave that one up to the voters. No explanation as to why either of them were not interviewed as well.

Position #7, Sandoval vs. Norbert Chavez IV, aka. Roby Cannon Chavez who had been all over the media and social network for his gun toting selfie's and drinking with minors; she said neither would respond when called for the interview.

Theo Castillo, Candidate for Position 4

Transparent information?

Was the Theo Castillo interview more of a campaign video?

See results

Feeding or Questioning?

Susan Richardson, interviewing the candidates, had two different styles, Please play close attention. For Theo Castillo, whom she did not endorse, but will help with his campaign, the questions seemed more leading than questioning.

She began by asking him about the Facilities Committee which he was a member of. Mr. Castillo quickly elaborated on the fact that he was a "former" member of the committee but went on to add all the other committees and his involvement within the district and community that he serves. Once again showing that Ms. Richardson was not prepared for this interview or was leading the candidate.

He was then asked to expand on parental involvement. He and his wife take credit for the CPOC (Clinical Proof of Concept) program in the district, which was a concept dating back into the 1990s. As he continued to speak of the importance to be visible in the district and community and getting involved.

She went on to ask him about enticing employees to the district and supporting them. First he had to praise his friends on the board on what an excellent job they have done. As he continued reading from his highlighted notes. Also praising all those teachers and administrators by name to show the community just how connected he is with the community and the district. He also included his association with T.A.N.C.O. The Thelma Area Neighborhood Community Organization that Syliva Ruiz Mendelsohn co-founded and continues to be involved in. Most currently, offering him and the organization the community center that the ESD #6 was going to build with tax payers money and rent for functions, until they ran it into bankruptcy and lost the fire protection the district had known for over 30 years.

Ms. Richardson praised those teachers and administrators as well, calling them good leaders, but wanted to know how he would handle the situation on current leaders in place that are lacking? Mr. Castillo felt they should be evaluated by their employees.

She thanked him for his time; referenced his request for campaign assistance and made comment that from time to time the TSTA are asked to volunteer, phone bank and block walk. "We have done that in the past" she said. Adding that she liked his answers and others would too. Ms. Richardson openly campaigned for the "team" in the last election.

Daniel Espinoza, Candidate Position 4

Political or Informative

Were candidate Daniel Espinoza's questions more political than informative?

See results

What are board members really allowed to do

Both candidates gave good interviews, Mr. Castillo is greatly involved in the community, which is very admirable, however, using his involvement in committees as a board member to micromanage the district is a violation of Texas school board policy.

Mr. Castillo is campaigning as an educator, but he was not once asked any questions that had to do with his background in education and how he would use it as a board member.

Although Mr. Castillo's friends on the board continually violate board policy, by micromanaging the district; if he praises them and wants to continue more of the same, nothing will change at Southside ISD. A board member role is NOT to be involved in the day to day activities. That is the job of the superintendent and his administration. As they say, that's why they get the big bucks. And in the case of Southside ISD that couldn't be more true.

Mr. Espinoza, showed that he is a thinker. He definitely has the educational background and level head for making decisions.

What is the law for campaigning on school grounds?

Many feel that because the elections are school related, it is ok to campaign at school campuses. The law prohibits campaigning on district property, using equipment, supplies etc. for the use of campaigning, to include computers and phones. All of these items are paid for by the taxpayer and cannot be used for anything other than education.

To do so could result in someone losing their job and depending on the expense to the district, charges could be filed to recoup the costs.

Playing stump the candidate?

Susan Richardson, nervously and with excessive blinking asked the candidate, Daniel Espinoza, "Why are you running for the School Board?" The candidate stated because he attended the 2014 graduation and saw the unprofessional behavior. He as an educator had attended many graduations, which are to prepare students for adulthood and going into college and that basically wasn't the behavior that was displayed.

She went on to ask about challenges and solutions for southside. Mr. Espinoza's character reminded me of a great educator, Jaime Escalante. Dedicated and articulate in his ideas for education, a thinker; not all knowing nor arrogant.

Understanding why his former students and community members hold him with high regard. As he put it, teachers must know their students, adjustments need to be made and they need to be held accountable. Educating our students basically starts with the janitors and up the ladder. Without a proper staff to maintain an area that's conducive for children to learn, they are already lacking a tool. He called it a team effort, "everyone needs to bring something to the table."

Ms. Richardson, then lead to the question of accountability. Mr. Espinoza boiled it down to relationships with staff to students. If the students are focused on the teachers, they will learn. He gave an example: If students were given a bench mark test and the class did poorly, then the students should be asked for their honesty on what the issues were with their learning in the classroom. If it turns out to be a teachers issue, then the teacher needs to be guided into teaching in a different method. If it is the student who is doing poorly, than it is the duty of the district to find out how to work with that student to help them learn.

Ms. Richardson then asked him about proper training and how he would know if it was happening. Mr. Espinoza, once again used the word evaluate. Teachers, administration, students and even the board members need to be evaluated. Positions that require certifications, make sure to have them checked before hiring. He would like to see the board members be required to have background checks, volunteering to take one himself.

Ms. Richardson then lead to the question of transparency, asking if Southside was not transparent enough? Mr. Espinoza said he was not going to get into what is going on right now. He would just say that he would ask for evaluations. "Evaluation of myself, if I'm doing a good job", he said.

Ms. Richardson continued with the question of Positions & Reward; asking where negative publicity originated from in the district. Mr. Espinoza, a former coach, used this analogy; "Instill good ethics, if a team keeps losing by repeating the same thing over and over again, how can you win if you are not willing to change. Change shows that you are trying to improve. Failure comes when we don't change."

Ms. Richardson added that with 11 years at the Jubilee School (Charter School) how many students did he have and how could he apply what he did there at Southside. Mr. Espinoza, said there were 120 students on average. In 11 years they had a 100% graduation rate. She then asked him about truancy, suspension and basically problem students. He used the analogy of the cracker jacks box. If you go to the cracker jacks box and look for the toy at the bottom and it continues to be the same toy, the students lose interest. Basically the students need challenges and if the teacher is not prepared, the student is lost. Make sure the teachers are prepared to teach and keep their interest and they both succeed.

Ms. Richardson ended the interview with a question about charter schools. Asking about the need for charter schools and should we go to charters schools or public schools? Mr. Espinoza simply used the "if the shoe fits" analogy. Charter schools have a place just like public schools. They aren't necessarily for everyone.Charter schools he said can afford to be more selective in the type of students they have because they don't fall under the same guidelines as public school. He went on to say that all his grandchildren went to public school and one of his grandchildren just received a college scholarship.

Mr. Espinoza's interview was very informative on Mr. Espinoza's character, background and experience in education.

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