On January 23, 2015, on the campus of IDEA Monterrey Park, County Judge Nelson Wolff administered the oath of office to Marisa B. Perez as she began her second term representing District 3 on the State Board of Education.
Perez’s pastor delivered the invocation. Her District 2 colleague, Ruben Cortez, Jr., from the Rio Grande Valley, expressed his enthusiasm for serving with her again.
Perez shared the story about why she decided to run for the State Board of Education. As a social worker, she was attending an ARD meeting for a six-year-old in foster care. The child was having behavior problems at school; it wasn’t clear whether the problems were because of a developmental delay or because of the child’s stressful life outside of school. Perez knows that putting a child into special education is a big decision and has a long-term impact on their schooling; a school administrator must be present at every ARD meeting. At that particular meeting, Perez looked over at the school principal, and she was sound asleep. Perez was outraged, and resolved to do something. So, she filed for office, with support from family and friends.
From her first term (2013-14), Perez highlighted these accomplishments:
- Passing a resolution against private school vouchers. “SBOE Urges Lege to Reject Vouchers, Tax Credits”, Chris Hooks, Texas Tribune, April 19, 2013.
- Adopting textbooks for biology and environmental science. “Texas Textbook Adoption Is a Major Victory for Science Education”, Texas Freedom Network, November 22, 2013.
- Defending curriculum tools (formerly known as CSCOPE) for continued use by school districts. “Attempts to block CSCOPE hit rock”, Rick Casey, San Antonio Express-News, July 26, 2013; earlier post.
- Working on new high school graduation requirements, part of HB 5, that allow for more flexibility, and spreading the word about those changes—see Perez’s slides from a February 5, 2014 presentation at ESC 20. “Senate Approves New High School Graduation Plan”, Morgan Smith, Texas Tribune, May 6, 2013; “Local groups build a case for tougher graduation plan”, Maria Luisa Cesar, San Antonio Express-News, March 16, 2014.
During Perez’s second term, from 2015 through 2018, the State Board of Education will take up the controversial topic of health education, among other issues.
I admire Perez’s humanity; her story about the ARD meeting is a good example of that. She is present, engaged, and accessible. She is observant and keeps an open mind, and is eager to work with both traditional ISDs and with charter schools.
Several high-performing charter school networks were represented at Perez’s swearing-in ceremony. Pictured here, left to right: Rey Saldaña, Chief Engagement Officer, KIPP San Antonio; Sam Goessling, Chef Advancement Officer, IDEA Public Schools; Valerie Robertson, Principal, Carpe Diem Westwood; Marisa B. Perez, District 3, State Board of Education; Charles Ross, Director of Academic Programs, BASIS San Antonio North; Jacquie Fagan, Director of Community Engagement, Great Hearts Monte Vista; and Rolando Posada, Executive Director for San Antonio, IDEA Public Schools.
Judge Wolff shares Perez’s wish for charter schools and traditional ISDs to coexist and learn from each other. All public schools are working towards a common goal: preparing students for the future. Wolff also highlighted the expansion of BiblioTech, Bexar County’s all-digital library. “Bibliotech headed for West Side”, Jeremy T. Gerlach, San Antonio Express-News, December 24, 2014; earlier post.
After the swearing-in ceremony, Curtis Lawrence, Principal of IDEA Monterey Park College Prep, led Perez and her family on a campus tour. IDEA Public Schools has a reputation for working in underserved communities, particularly among Hispanic students and English-language learners, to get all kids ready to go to and through college; read more in this earlier post.
I am looking forward to watching Perez’s accomplishments during her second term representing San Antonio on the State Board of Education.