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Three candidates so far for HISD Trustee in District I

We know that Natasha Kamrani, the incumbent Trustee in HISD District I is not running for re-election. One candidate to replace her is Alma Lara, who was in the race before Kamrani announced that she was stepping down. According to School Zone, there are now three candidates for Trustee in District I, for which the filing deadline is also Wednesday, September 2 at 5 PM. One of the others is Linda Toyota, who is the Chief Development Officer for the YWCA of Greater Houston. The other is Anna Eastman, who sent out the following email about her candidacy over the weekend:

Dear Friends,

I have decided to run for HISD Board of Education Trustee for District 1. Incumbent Natasha Kamrani has announced that she will not be running again this fall. Each of you know my commitment to public schools in Houston and my fundamental belief that every child deserves the opportunity to receive an excellent public education. I have been proud to send my own children to HISD schools and have had the privilege of knowing many amazing teachers and faculty who are willing to work tirelessly for their students’ success.

I know that there is no magic bullet or quick and easy solution to the challenges inherent to a large urban district such as HISD, and I will commit to educate myself, listen to you and build alliances to make excellent, well-rounded public education a reality for all of our children. Those of you who have worked or interacted with me over the years know me to be transparent, sincere and passionate about the importance of public schools. While I always seek to build consensus in my various leadership roles in our neighborhood schools, I’ve never been afraid to take an unpopular stand when it was best for all children. I feel strongly that is essential to close the achievement gap, insist that every child functions at or above grade level and graduates college-ready.

Is there a sweeter sound than the laughter of recognition from your child who suddenly “gets it” while reading? All children deserve our best efforts to ensure that they get it, because they are receiving the best public education possible. Every parent should experience the full heart of knowing their children are getting our very best.

I am humbled and honored that so many have encouraged me to run and will look to you for guidance and input throughout this process. I would be deeply grateful if you can join me in this effort by making a donation to my campaign, hosting a coffee or gathering so that I can meet your neighbors and discuss my vision with you all and, most importantly, voting for me on Tuesday, November 3.

I met Eastman last week at an event for parents of new students at Travis Elementary after she contacted me to tell me she was running for the HISD board; she has kids at Travis and has been active in its PTA. she doesn’t have a website up yet but tells me she will have one up this week. In the meantime, you can see her Facebook page here. I will be publishing interviews with Lara and Eastman next week.

As for Toyota, I’d heard there was another candidate some time ago, but hadn’t heard anything more than that before now. I’ll try to track her down for an interview as well. For what it’s worth, one of the things I found while Googling around was that she made a $2300 contribution to Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential campaign last year. Eastman was an Obama donor and campaign volunteer. I didn’t find any contributions made by Lara, but she has received several endorsements from Democratic officials and groups.

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  1. Jesse Alred says:

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    Examiner Bio Charter sponsors launching Houston school board takeover effort
    October 9, 6:04 PMHouston Education Reform ExaminerJesse Alred2 comments Print
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    Ericka Mellon’s school zone blog lists the largest contributors to candidates in three contested Houston school board campaigns.

    Businessmen who promote charter schools are the largest contributors to the campaigns of Mike Lunceford and Anna Eastman, candidates, respectively, for west and north district seats.

    Charter schools already have strong supporters holding two of HISD’s nine seats. Harvin Moore IV was a founding board member and long-time treasurer of KIPP charter schools. Corporate spokesperson Paula Harris won her seat with the financial backing of Leo Linbeck III, who is chief planner for KIPP’s effort to recruit 10,000 of HISD’s current students.

    Houston business leaders, and philanthropies linked to them, have committed $100 million to the growth plans of KIPP and YES Prep charter schools. They clearly have an agenda developed privately for schools managed publicly.

    The nature of Eastman’s and Lunceford’s financial coalition raises questions about who they will represent if they gain seats on the school board.

    In the northside campaign, the charter-proponents seem to be playing a little bit of trickery. Linbeck is supporting Linda Toyota, while Natasha Kamrani, wife of YES Prep founder, Chris Barbic, is backing Anna Eastman. Eastman is also supported by an associate of John Arnold, one of KIPP’s biggest supporters.

    What charter-sponsors seem to be doing is trying to force a runoff, hoping the Hispanic vote will be lower on the runoff date. Groups with lower turnout tend to vote even less in runoffs, when fewer candidates are on the ballot and there is less publicity.