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VOTE411 Voter Guide

County School Trustee, Position 3, At-Large

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    Richard Cantu (Dem) Deputy Executive Director - East Aldine District, Hawes Hill & Associates

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    Elvonte Patton (Dem) Student (Doctoral Candidate)

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    Josh Wallenstein (Dem) Compliance Attornney

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Biographical Information

If elected, what do you hope to achieve during your term in office?

What do you see as the appropriate role of the County School Board in ensuring that residents in Harris County are receiving the best possible educational opportunities? Please address education at all levels from early childhood to adult.

In your opinion, what are the three most valuable services currently being provided by the County Board of Education?

Education/Degrees Masters - Public Administration, University of St. Thomas; B.A. - Political Science, University of Houston; A.A. - Government, Houston Community College
Professional Experience Deputy Executive Director - East Aldine District, Hawes Hill & Associates (2008 - 2017); Community Developer/Youth Development Mgr, Baker Ripley (2006-2008); Director, Mayor's Citizens' Assistance Office (2000-2006); Houston Parks & Rec (1992-2000)
Community Involvement North Harris County Education Alliance (Co-Chair), Aldine Education Foundation, Northside Precinct Judges, Hawthorne Civic Club, Harris County Sheriff's Citizens' Police Academy, Harris County Citizens Corps/CERT Team, Harris Co Tejano Democrats
Campaign Email
Campaign Website
Campaign Phone (346) 444-0626
Twitter @richcan2
As a Harris County School Trustee, I will work to develop better access to Early Childhood Education which is critically important for future success, expand Afterschool Enrichment opportunities for our kids, promote Workforce Development opportunities so that we can compete globally, support Professional Development so that our teachers have the tools and resources necessary to produce our nation’s best, and ensure that every Tax Payer dollar is invested cautiously!
The Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) is one of the county’s best kept secrets, as it provides important services to the community and to the 25 area school districts it serves. HCDE has leveraged resources effectively, providing $2 in services for every dollar invested by area school districts and tax-payers. Currently, over 1300 pre-school age children access Early Childhood Education at 15 Head Start Centers throughout Harris County, while quality Afterschool Services are provided to almost 15,000 youth. HCDE’s Adult Education division helps approximately 9000 adult learners obtain their GEDs and prepare for new careers. Over 7000 students with special learning accommodations are provided School-Based Therapy Services at their home campuses. The HCDE board must ensure that we expand opportunities for working families to access Head Start, keep our kids safe by providing afterschool services, and offers adult education courses that help make connections to better jobs.
• EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION – We must develop better accessibility to Early Childhood Education opportunities for our families so that more of our youth have a “head start”! • AFTERSCHOOL ENRICHMENT – We must work to expand partnerships that offer afterschool enrichment for our youth so that every kid that needs it has access. Our kids need more options for safe and engaging programs to keep them on the right track during afterschool hours. • ALTERNATIVE / SPECIAL EDUCATION – Special needs students access to alternative education services helps ensure that we are providing a safety net for those that might otherwise have no other options. These services are oftentimes the lifeline that special needs students need to be a part of the mainstream and will therefore function as productive members of society.
Education/Degrees Currently Mr. Patton is a full-time student working on his Doctorate Degree in Education at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Mr. Patton dissertation topic "Sound Frequencies and Their Effect of Cognitive Development" in student behavior.
Professional Experience Elvonte' Patton served in many capacities throughout Texas Southern University, from admissions administrator, student services administrator, and a professor.
Community Involvement For the past 12 years, Elvonte has been dedicated to ensuring a better education for all through his community service efforts. Today, he continues community service by speaking to the youth at various schools to supporting children at school events.
Campaign Email
Campaign Website
Campaign Phone (832) 453-1863
If I am elected, I am hoping to change the narrative of public education. I will work to get free Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 for every student in Harris County. I will fight to bring equality to education for all students no matter race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation. I will also fight to protect student and educators unalienable rights. I will even bring programs that will enhance literacy, for example, creating phonogram cards to put in each Pre-k 3 and Pre-K 4 classroom across Harris County.
First and foremost the most appropriate role for the County School Board is to look out for students. Education is not a line item on the County School Board’s agenda—it is the only item. When making decisions about school programs, the County School Board should incorporate the community’s view of what students should know and be able to do at all grade levels. The County School Board should be accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools. Finally, The County School Board is the education watchdog for all communities in Harris County, Texas, and to be sure that every student gets the best education for the tax dollars spent.
I believe that each service or program is essential to Harris County. My top three most valuable services or programs that the County School Board provide will be Head Start, school-based therapy services, and school safety. Those three services make a world of a difference in the success of our children's education.
Education/Degrees Juris Doctorate - Stanford Law School Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude - Southern Methodist University (Majors: Spanish, International Studies, Latin American Studies)
Professional Experience • Member, The Texas Bar • Member, The District of Columbia Bar • Member, The New York Bar • Board Director, TRACE Foundation • Board Member, Oil & Gas Anti-Corruption Advisory Board • Steering Committee Member, Corporate Compliance Exchange
Community Involvement • Member, Emmanuel Episcopal Church • Member, Texas Freedom Network • Member, various Democratic Clubs and Organizations
Campaign Email
Campaign Phone (713) 598-4581
• If the HCDE were eliminated, our school taxes would dramatically rise. I will fight to retain the HCDE as the county’s most cost-effective way to support public education. I will also resist raising tax rates, and will focus on maintaining efficiencies. • The primary job of elected Trustees is to comprehensively review dozens of contracts each month. As the only contracts lawyer in the race, I will ensure that the HCDE uses taxpayer funds wisely, eliminates waste, and avoids both costly liabilities and conflicts of interest. • Certain Trustees have engaged in unethical self-dealing. I will use parliamentary process and legal arguments to ensure that the public’s interests are served. • In an effort to break the school-to-prison pipeline, I will support the creation of multiple additional county recovery schools for victims of substance abuse. • With my extensive experience in negotiation, I will reduce partisanship on the board so as to prioritize win-win decisions.
The HCDE is the most cost-effective use of tax dollars in the county. For every $1 in taxes, the HCDE receives over $3 in matching grants and external funding. It then leverages economies of scale to multiply the value of our tax dollars by almost 450%.

HCDE’s elected Board oversees the HCDE's administration; it reviews dozens of contracts each month, and ensures that the HCDE spends tax dollars to develop and provide lower cost services so that schools can spend more local dollars in the classroom. It also oversees the largest adult education program in the State (GED, ESL and workforce training).

The Board must: • advance the most necessary and cost-effective services to support our students and our schools. • make decisions based primarily on the question, “will this help or hurt students?” • ensure that high quality teachers and services remain available at reasonable rates across the county, for both kids and adult learners. • build facilities where they are most needed.
The Board oversees the HCDE in its provision of essential services. Some services simply provide cost savings for our IDS; three of the most valuable services offered directly by the HCDE are: • Head Start: vital early education for our most vulnerable children. Head Start helps kids prepare for school, so that they don’t fall behind and (potentially) drop out. • Adult Education: the largest provider of adult education in State! The HCDE educates adults so as to achieve their potential, take advantage of better job opportunities, or advance in higher education. All of these efforts make better citizens. • HCDE Schools: alternative campuses, focused on students with academic or behavioral disabilities; adjudicated youth; and victims of substance abuse. It is our ethical mandate to do all we can to break the school-to-prison pipeline, and otherwise empower all youth to achieve their potential. These indispensable services demonstrate our ethics in action.