Castro gets involved with school politics

This will be interesting to watch.

Mayor Julián Castro will take an active role in local school board elections and superintendent appointments, he said in an interview Saturday outside SA2020’s final community workshop, one in which education was heralded as key to the city’s future.

Castro, stepping directly into a domain previous mayors have avoided, said his plan begins with refusing to accept failure from the city’s “urban school districts.”

“I envision, for instance, coming up with a system of measuring the progress of these urban school districts in a mayor’s scorecard on their progress and holding them accountable for student success,” he said. “I believe that getting more involved in ensuring that there are knowledgeable and strong board members at these school districts needs to be a part of my job.

“We have sat too long and allowed our school districts to not have as top-notch leadership as they could have, both in superintendents and in school boards.”


On Saturday, as about 1,000 people wrapped up SA2020, Castro’s collaborative long-term planning effort, it was clear that for San Antonio to succeed during the next decade, improving education would be pivotal.

During the session, participants discussed how to connect seemingly disparate issues — from downtown development to economic competitiveness and family well-being.

Ann Stevens, president of BioMed SA, said education “is the river that runs through our lives and binds us together as a community.” Several other speakers, representing the collective thoughts of their working groups, pointed to a strong education system as a game changer — a daunting task made more difficult by looming state budget cuts in the Legislature.

Two points here. One, you may recall that Peter Brown made Mayoral involvement in education a part of his campaign. Nobody else followed his lead, so watching Castro will give us some idea of what might have been. This could be a brilliant, game-changing idea, and it could be a political tar pit. Who knows? I look forward to finding out.

And two, if Castro is gearing up for a future statewide run, something like this could be an excellent springboard, and it could be a great way to set himself up as a counterweight to Rick Perry. (He’s running for re-election this May, but that doesn’t preclude anything for 2012 or beyond.) The contrast between the Mayor rolling up his sleeves and getting personally involved in making his schools better against the Governor who’s making things like voter ID and so-called “sanctuary cities” emergency priorities while public education is being cut by $10 billion is striking and potentially quite compelling. I have no idea if this is something he has in mind, and there’s the very real risk that he’s bitten off more than he can chew, but I have to think the idea has occurred to someone besides me. Like I said, we’ll see how this goes.

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