There are three candidates running for seats on the AISD School Board on May 7, 2022, which the Abilene Freedom League has endorsed. Reini King has signed Abilene Freedom League’s Elected Official Protection Pledge, which promises to protect Abilene students and staff against vaccine mandates, mask mandates, vaccine passports, unnecessary medical testing, other forced/coerced medical procedures, and to support all legislation which protects against them.
Reini King is a mother of three children ages 4,7, and 9 who are currently and will continue to be in AISD for years to come. After listening to her speak it is very clear how much she not only cares about her own kids, but about all the kids in the district as well as teachers and faculty. After experiencing first hand the attack on children’s personal freedoms she has felt called to action and to defend all children in the district. King understands how badly the district is in need of change and is fully committed to work with teachers, other board members and parents to fix the problems and return the focus to education. She is looking to improve morale, work to improve teacher retention, increase the environments in school to decrease bullying and increase learning. Reini plans to focus on improving academic performance within the district as AISD scores lower than most the surrounding districts and has four elementary schools that have failing grades. She is also going to focus on board transparency and restoring the broken relationship between parents and the school board. She is aware that the current school board members have failed the district and the parents and she pledges to be there to listen and address their concerns. Reini King was one of the three Abilene Freedom League endorsed candidates who showed up to the Hispanic Leadership Council forum on Tuesday, April 5. She spoke passionately and professionally about issues affecting students, teachers, parents, and the district. She left no doubt that she would make a better choice than her opponent and be a breath of fresh air to the school board. Here are some of her highlights from the forum.
What would you bring to the AISD board?
She wasted no time answering this one saying I am going to start with being a mom and having kids in the system that are going to be here. Most parents and teachers these days will tell you that if you haven’t been in the classroom or been with your kids with your boots on the ground every single day for the last three to five years then you have no idea what our kids are facing on a daily basis. It’s not just covid as people would have you think. It is the safety in our schools every single day with fights and bullying. Those are the kinds of things we are faced with as parents every day. It is the fact that my child started this year at “B” level because he had to learn from a teacher in a mask in kindergarten. It took every day as a parent who can put in the time to get him just a little bit short of where we are supposed to be. Thank God my kid has a parent with the ability to spend that time but not all kids do. From a non parent’s perspective we feel like we aren’t leaving kids behind but we are because we don’t see them everyday.. I look at it in the big picture and there are a lot of things that are not right. We have teachers leaving left and right. I bring the ability to communicate with people, embrace them, to hear the stories, get them to open up, to take those things, and to take action. I bring that to the table. I have a marketing and public relations background with business acumen and salesmanship to bring those things together. That’s what we need to do. We have got to get things to our kids and the only way to do that is to know what is going on with them every day.
What are your thoughts on AISD’s special programs and are there any that you would add or remove?
Reini said we need to revisit and revamp the AP program as the quality has dropped off over the years and the kids aren’t getting as much out of it as they used to. We need more transition schools for kids going from early head start into kindergarten as it helps to evaluate them. We need an alternative school off campus to deal with students with continual discipline problems because it is affecting the 90% of great students from learning and is the cause of frustration and even quitting from teachers. She also called for more home economics classes, saying kids today don’t know how to wash their clothes or balance a checking account and are going out into the real world lacking skills they need.
Educators are going into retirement and career changes at a record pace. What plans or ideas do you have to fill the large number of vacancies in AISD?
Reini demonstrated her knowledge and awareness on the issue, sayin we need to work with the colleges to develop the teachers we have that are already here and do what we can to keep them. We lost 23 teachers at semester this year, which is a record high. We kept 18 teachers from the universities but all they did was fill some of the vacant spots that we lost. We need to start with teacher retention because the 18 could have filled other spots we needed. Do some surveys for the students getting teaching degrees at the three universities to find out what is their reason for staying or leaving in order to keep more teachers from moving away.
After listening to some of the answers from the other candidates King responded by saying the problem is some of the teachers we are retaining right now are the ones just filling a spot. We are losing our good teachers because they are frustrated by the system. They feel that if they come to the board the admin is going to call them on it. There is a disconnect between what is going on in the classroom and what the admin does with discipline and it is such a big thing right now. Every single teacher is saying it is out of control. 7 fights in one day at one of our middle schools is ridiculous. Discipline is not just punishment. It is creating structure and giving kids expectations.
It is January 2023 and Abilene and the rest of the world is experiencing another pandemic. Number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are on the rise. The AISD administration is recommending such options as temporary school closings, virtual learning, and masks. What is your response to these recommendations and why? Reini got really passionate and even a little emotional as this is an issue that not only affected her own children in a big way but she understands how other parents in the same situation were affected by how the school board handled the pandemic. She said I was lucky enough to stay home with my kids last time but parents are not teachers. I did my best. I had a structured setting, we had the whole set-up and I’ll tell you right now. My kids are behind to this day. Putting a mask on my baby that first year and sending him to school his first year as a kindergartner, no one at this table knows what that was like, There is a lot of moms and dads out there that had to drop off their baby to a person they didn’t know and they never saw their face at a place they have never been. I would never do that to anyone else's children ever again. Honestly, I felt forced to abuse my child. What we’ve done to kids in the last two years is punishment. We’ve set them back to a point they may not recover from. We may have lost a group of kids right now. The mental torture we put them through, the suicides, the struggles, the social and emotional things that they are going through, we did that to them. No, I will not do it. Bottom line, that is it. You have to look at what happened. We never in history went that far. We’ve seen pandemics before and when we got through it they continued to tell us kids weren’t getting it and we still put them in masks and kept them at home. After hearing excuses and outright denials from the current school board members she spoke up again on the issue and clearly stated that by the time we started school that year no surrounding district put masks on kids. Even the doctors that we talked to at AISD didn’t put masks on their kids. The data was out by that point that showed kids were not getting sick and yet we still chose to do it. The data was there and it was because no one else did it. We are supposed to be the leader and we weren’t. Everyone else had packed sporting events and went back to life a whole year before we did. The data does matter but if you are going to look at the data you have to look at all of it, not just what you want to see.
Reini King’s Closing Statement She used class as she made it clear that it is time for real change within the school board, administrations, and schools in the district. She said I believe we have a great group of people at AISD. We have great teachers and some great administration. I think there are some great people on the school board. I feel like maybe it is time for a fresh perspective and time for some new ideas. We're talking about how we are continuing a great run. No, we are gradually moving backwards in the rankings. Greaterschools.com actually says that 73% of our schools are below average, That is unacceptable. That means that a majority of our kids are getting a below average education. Only 18% are getting a mediocre education. Guys, we have got to make some changes. We got to get things back to the students and the teachers. We really have to make some changes. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We need new perspectives, new ideas, and people that are open to looking in different directions. We need to open up the transparency of the school board and the administration to the teachers and the community. Everybody feels shut down. You talk to parents and they don’t go to school board meetings because they don’t feel heard. It is time to turn that around. We have got to open that up as a community.
Reini is going up against a woman named Cindy Earles who has held the position for 8 years, being elected in 2014. She offered no new ideas or information when it came to what she brings to the board. She touted the special ed programs and then talked about considering adding new programs but made a bunch of excuses for why it hasn’t or couldn’t get done. She talked about offering incentives to keep teachers but admitted they haven’t accomplished it and blamed the small numbers of quality teachers in the pool. This is not the reason as teachers feel they are not getting help from the current board members on a whole host of issues that are causing them to leave AISD or retire early. She admitted to not making the correct choice about school closings. She then tried to defend the decision to mask the kids claiming it was the lesser of two evils then and even said if it came down to it she would vote to mask the kids again, despite the fact that every indicator says masks don’t work and kids aren’t affected by covid for the most part. It is people like this who need to be removed from the school board and replaced by Reini King. Reini King did a great job at the forum and represented herself, her family, fellow parents and fellow patriots well. The Abilene Freedom League made a good choice endorsing her and she has proven to be worthy of it. Reini is smart, passionate, well spoken, not afraid to speak up, and the candidate that AISD parents. Teachers, and students need to represent them in the School Board. If you want to find out more about her, here are some important links. https://aisdneedsreiniking.com/ https://www.facebook.com/reinikingforaisd
Written by Chris Turner Online Content Committee Chair Sources: https://www.facebook.com/AbileneHispanicLeadershipCouncil/videos/1434820923644131 (Hispanic Leadership Council Forum)