The SAISD board election is big business vs educators, students, and community.

The progressive challengers in SAISD understand that when community members are heard, we create schools that center and uplift students and serve our community well.

SAISD incumbents all-smiles with anti-immigrant, anti-public education, pro-charter, billionaire-backed Republican politicians while teachers, school workers and community members fight to prevent the firing of over 130 teachers in 2018.


By Sarah Sorensen, David Garza, and Judit Vega


On Thursday, April 8th, the Editorial Board of the San Antonio Express News endorsed four conservative candidates for the upcoming school board election in SAISD. They framed the progressive challengers to these seats as a threat to “undo progress”. But as we reflected on their viewpoint and on our experiences in our schools, we began to wonder who exactly that “progress” is meant for, and who has had to sacrifice to deliver it.


The lived experience of students, families, teachers and school workers tells a different story than one of unquestionable progress. Counter to the public narrative, the past several years are marked by instability and changes that make more of a public relations splash than a genuine improvement for our community. “Progress” has meant disinvesting from campuses while they are in Improvement Required status. “Progress” has meant closing beloved neighborhood schools and reopening new schools on their campuses without giving the community any say in the plans. “Progress” has meant converting elementary schools to K-8 academies without sufficient funding to provide adequate facilities or programs for students only to decide to abandon the plan a few years later. This is just a small sample of the decisions that have occurred in the name of progress that have not been in the best interest of our community.


While the conservative slate relies on big money to leave its mark, the four challengers have used their campaigns to show what a collective vision can look like for our schools.

The progressive challengers understand that when community members are heard, we create schools that center and uplift students and serve our community well.


The incumbents and Ozuna, on the other hand, have not listened to students, families, teachers or school workers. Instead of holding themselves accountable to us, they dismiss our concerns while seeking the support of wealthy donors who have nothing to do with our communities.


Steve Lecholop, who voted in the 2018 Republican primary, has accepted over $23,000 in donations from a group called Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), and their associated PAC, since he first ran for school board. LEE is based in Washington, D.C., and as of 2017 it had raised more than $29 million from donors like Michael Bloomberg, Jeffrey Sackler, and the Waltons - men who have no place speaking over us in our schools.


Donations like these alarm us because they suggest that the conservative, entrenched candidates are more interested in kicking lucrative legal contracts to their supporters than in creating a district that unflinchingly builds up communities.

Leticia Ozuna, Arthur Valdez, and Ed Garza, meanwhile, sought out support from a few local organizations marred with deep conflicts of interest. Ozuna and Valdez each accepted $1,000 from each of the law firms Escamilla and Poneck, LLP and Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, while Garza has taken $9,250 from the attorneys since he became interested in education.


Both of these firms became infamous in 2002 when they were accused of bribing city council members. A founding partner with Linebarger Goggan went to jail, and Garza swore off any donations from the firms. Apparently, that pledge didn’t last very long. The current SAISD Board has contracted with both firms to represent the district in several cases over the years. Escamilla and Poneck, for example, helped SAISD subdue a civil rights case brought in 2010, and they are currently representing the district in its attempt to discipline Burbank teacher and union steward Luke Amphlett for organizing work protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.


Donations like these alarm us because they suggest that the conservative, entrenched candidates are more interested in kicking lucrative legal contracts to their supporters than in creating a district that unflinchingly builds up communities.


While the conservative slate relies on big money to leave its mark, the four challengers have used their campaigns to show what a collective vision can look like for our schools. They have worked to build relationships and develop community strength alongside eleven local organizations that share a common dream for a democratic, inclusive, and empowering district.



Not only are they endorsed by the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel, which represents education workers in SAISD, but also by the SAISD Student Coalition, the SA Youth Scholars Collective, and the Our Schools Coalition- groups representing students, alumni, families and community members.


As parents and an educator, we believe it is time for real progress that centers our students and draws on the strengths of our community to create a public school system that we deserve.




Sarah Sorensen

SAISD parent, education justice advocate and candidate in SAISD, District 1


David Garza

SAISD parent, pre-k teacher and Alliance member


Judit Vega

SAISD parent, health equity advocate and candidate in SAISD, District 3