Monday, January 16, 2012

Justice in Irving ISD: Comparing 5-2 with 7-0

Five single member & two at-large districts vs seven single member & no at-large districts

On 1-12-12 the Irving ISD School Board, with a 3 to 4 split vote, denied voters a 7 single member district system for the selection of members for the school board.  Instead they selected a 5 single member and 2 at-large member district system.   This system has the following characteristics:

1) The 5-2 system will not allow for a single district wherein Black residents are the largest group.  This is possible in a 7-0 system in Irving ISD

2) The 5-2 system virtually guarantees that the School Board will remain under the contol of Anglo non-Hispanic members. This is in a School district with only a 10.7% Anglo non-Hispanic student population and a 29.99% Anglo non-Hispanic resident population. With the 5-2 district map submitted by the IISD Board there are only three districts wherein there is any statistical improvement for the Irving minority population as a unified group to have any increased advantage in electing a candidate of their choice. In the 7-0 map submitted by the Irving Education Coalition there are 5 such districts, a significant improvement in the potential for the Irving minority community to elect candidates of their choice, and a probable majority on the IISD Board.

3) The 5-2 system creates an unequal situation for two board member positions by continuing the burden for them of the expensive citywide campaigning. These two positions must connect with a population of over 170,000 people while the other 5 single member positions will have significantly less expensive campaigns targeting populations of only 34,000 people. These positions all have equal votes on the board.

4) The 5 single member district campaigns for office will be more expensive in time and money than those for 7 single member districts. There is a big difference between the need to connect with populations of over 34,000 people in the 5 district system and the need to connect with the smaller communities of 24,000 people in the 7 district system. The campaign for office in a 7-single member district system could much more easily be based on personal connections. Success in being elected can much more easily depend on effort and reputation, not on money. Plus, all the members in a 7-single district board of trustees would truly be equal, representing equal numbers of the population.

5) A majority Hispanic CVAP (Citizen Voting Age Population) district is not possible without a 7-0 district system! The court order signed by Judge Fitzwater in January of 2010 stated that once a district with a majority Hispanic CVAP could be proven, that the move to single member districts could happen without a return to court being necessary. With 7 districts such a majority Hispanic CVAP district has been created.  Such a district is not possible with 5 single member districts.

6) A 7-0 single member district system will obviously most encourage local involvement.  It will provide the greatest potential for personal connections in the Irving ISD system.  Parents will know that their board member has their local interests in mind.

7) A 7-0 single member district system will also encourage local parental involvement, the goal of all schools.  Local involvement of the community is what our schools most need to motivate students to work hard toward their own graduation, well prepared for work and/or college.

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