Garland ISD in North Texas has been in the news lately. First, a district controversy unraveled with Superintendent Gary Reeves being put on administrative leave over the H-1B visa program that was reported on by Fox 4 Dallas. It led to his replacement by Bob Morrison, recruited from Mansfield ISD which resulted in a groundswell of taxpayers and teachers to try to oust Morrison, calling him a bully. That also made local headlines. Morrison also made national headlines mandating Arabic language classes at Mansfield ISD, which created an uproar and were halted.
According to the North Dallas Gazette, Morrison was one of 38 superintendents to serve on the Future-Ready Superintendents Program and who contributes to the ongoing Visioning Institute Document, Creating a New Vision For Public Education in Texas, a publication of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). Adding to these public education sagas is the fact that one of the key New Vision players was former TASA president, Jeff Turner née newest ousted Superintendent of Schools in Coppell ISD, of which Coppell ISD is part of a 23 high performance school district Texas Education Agency (TEA) consortium that “will help develop innovative, next-generation learning standards, assessment and accountability systems.”
Meanwhile, Garland ISD sits on the other side of the economic spectrum in the Dallas area servicing the communities of Garland, Rowlett, and Sachse. This is a diverse cross-section of communities where, according to Texas Tribune 2010 statistics, fewer than half of the then-reported approximately 58,000 students were prepared for college in ELA and Math. In 2013, the Dallas Morning News reported that district’s demographics shifted to over 50 percent minority, predominantly Hispanic. It is a district that again made waves when its “choice plan” was rescinded.
Enter conservative activist and Garland resident Lawrence Billy Jones III amidst the turmoil. Jones is challenging incumbent Scott Luna on the Garland ISD Place 5 seat in the May 10, 2014 school board run-off election.
This bid marks Jones’ second attempt at the Garland ISD School Board. First go-round was during his freshman year at the University of North Texas; this time, the double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice is a junior. Also, Jones is far more a familiar face today. Last year, he played an instrumental role for conservative watchdog group Project Veritas in an undercover sting that exposed Obamacare navigator fraud in Texas. He also served on the Dallas County Child Welfare Board, Garland Parks & Recreation Board, District 2, Special Assistant to UNT Denton Provost and was appointed as a youth junior senator for the State of Texas.
“He understands the necessity of standing on principle,” commented Eugene Ralph, Game Chaingers, spokesperson who spoke to Breitbart Texas about Jones. Ralph shared that Game Chaingers is a faith-based non-profit that works vigorously to educate the black community to dispel the myths of progressivism. He also told Breitbart Texas that the organization cannot endorse candidates and his comments about Jones are his personal opinions.
“He brings a passion for truth that is a scarce commodity in politics today. The zeal that he possesses is a challenge to many of us who are older. Billy has an understanding of the issues and the agendas that are beyond his years,” Ralph added.
However, Jones was not always this way. The transformation from progressive to conservative started while he was youth campaign coordinator for the local 2012 Obama presidential campaign. Jones admitted that his former political views were always challenged by his Christian values and a very conservative father who inspired him to read. Among the authors that inspired Jones and tipped him to the Right were economist Thomas Sowell and pastor, Dr. Tony Evans.
Breitbart Texas spoke to Jones who joked that he believes he was a closet conservative all along. He also stated, “More people in the [Black] community are not conservatives only because they don’t know what a conservative is.”
Ralph also pointed out separately to Breitbart Texas that “in the Black community there is a deficit of accurate information on issues, on policy, and the policy positions of the elected officials who represent the demographic” which makes it more difficult to change minds and opinions.
In his activism, Jones perceives his role as bridging gaps, which is what he did as Garland ISD Student-Advocate, the youngest employee of the district. Jones served as liaison between the juveniles and the courts also directing mentoring programs. Jones told Breitbart Texas these same factors play a role in his running for Garland ISD.
“Our school board is very seasoned and that is part of the problem. They are so far removed from the classroom. This community is low income. Seventy percent of Garland ISD is on free and reduced lunch, which means essentially they live in poverty. How are we really reaching those children if we don’t know their experiences, if we don’t know their struggle?”
Jones questioned, suggesting that he is from the community and can better relate in more ways than one. For example, he told Breitbart Texas that voters should know what’s going on in their district. “What about fiscal responsibility? Maybe, there shouldn’t be a big bond package?” he added.
Jones told Breitbart Texas, “Just because I’m black, people assume I am liberal, and progressive.” Jones, who identifies himself as a conservative and a neighborhood kid believes in the old fashioned way–the community coming together to create its betterment without government assistance.
“Once you put (people) into the system, they depend on it and they will fail,” Jones commented on what he called the vicious cycle of poverty.
“As a young black male, I can’t dismiss the fact that there are black males in poverty or behind bars but one thing I encountered in the community that ticks me off is people who’d rather stay in impoverished,” and he meant by being a part of the government system. Jones said, “Do what you’ve got to do to be responsible to get where you want to go or you (end up) living off the government.”
No doubt, Jones does not believe in big government taking care of everyone. He said, “Once you put them into the system, they depend on the system and they will fail,” he said, calling it a vicious cycle of poverty,” he said.
Instead, he’d like to see Garland and other high minority communities form alliances with their local and surrounding area business owners and other entities that help low income to better establish and empower themselves in the community. Jones believes this would help dispel more of the myths of the Left.
According to Jones, more in the community would see the benefits of self-reliance and conservatism. “Just because you are black or Hispanic doesn’t mean you fail. There are many single parent households (in Garland) but many excel.”
Interestingly, this is exactly the opposite narrative that President Obama put forth in the February 27, 2014 progressive initiative My Brother’s Keeper. The Center for Public Integrity reported the $200 million initiative is to “develop a coordinated federal effort to improve significantly the expected life outcomes for boys and men of color (including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans) and their contributions to U.S. prosperity,” according to the website memorandum which also lists the task force.
Although not chaired by the President but by the Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary, it includes 20 other federal officials–the United States Attorney General and Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor and Transportation. The Directors of the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management , Domestic Policy Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Economic Council, as well as the chair of the Council on Economic Advisors, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, and heads of other executive departments, agencies, and offices among others.
The initiative is cut from the same federally mandated education-to-workforce cloth. Time Magazine quoted White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett saying about the program, “A stronger, better-prepared workforce means more investment and a competitive leg up as we face a globally competitive marketplace.”
According to the Center for Public Integrity, 10 foundations “have signed on to raise and provide $200 million over the next five years for programs, building on the $150 million they’ve already invested.” This includes the Ford Foundation; the Kapor Center for Social Impact; the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; the U.S. Open Society Foundations; Bloomberg Philanthropies; the Knight Foundation; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies and the California Endowment.
Given his accomplishments at only 21 years-old, Garland ISD might just do a whole lot better with an innovative, business-minded young man like Jones on the school board of trustees than the nation is doing under federally led central job planning and mandated equity for all.
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