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Place 5 AISD School Board Candidate Jeff Carr Shines in Hispanic Leadership Council Forum

The Abilene Freedom League has endorsed three candidates who will be running for seats on the AISD School Board on May 7, 2022. Jeff signed Abilene Freedom League's Elected Official Protection Pledge which agrees to protect Abilene students and faculty against vaccine mandates, mask mandates, vaccine passports, unnecessary medical testing, other forced/coerced medical procedures, and support all legislation which protects against them.

Jeff is running for Place 5 on the AISD School Board against Danny Wheat. He has five children including two currently attending Abilene High. Carr believes that teachers need to be empowered to focus on teaching and shouldn’t be wasting their valuable time doing tasks that should be the responsibility of administrators. He believes in making sure that teachers have the funding and supplies they need to provide the best learning environment as well as support from administration and the school board. Jeff believes that AISD students should be taught to critically think for themselves based on facts presented to them and not indoctrinated by the opinions of teachers or outside organizations. Jeff believes that students should be taught basic skill and how to be independent when they graduate and one of the best ways to accomplish that is by opening up access to various programs for all schools and establishing student apprenticeship programs for maintenance, IT, websites, and food service.

Jeff Carr was one of the three Abilene Freedom League endorsed candidates who showed up to the Hispanic Leadership Council forum on Tuesday, April 5. He did really well and opened a lot of eyes to some of the ongoing issues with the board and the district as well as to why he would make a better choice. Here are some of the highlights from the forum. What would you bring to the AISD board?

Jeff said I have children currently in the school system which none of the current board members do. That is something that should be represented. I also have a high level of technical ability. I know how to do machine learning, high level programming, and I think having someone with a deep technical background is valuable as it is one of things our kids need to get a little bit more education on and something that the kids could benefit from. I have a lot of experience. I have spent time in Washington DC working with the DOD, the DOE, and tons of lobbying groups where my main job was to evaluate programs to determine that what they were promising was actually what they were doing. I understand how to set up programs with metrics in place so that we can measure if those programs are delivering the outcomes that we want. I think it is very important to use creative skills to figure things out and my skills as a programmer have taught me a lot about how to deal with unintended consequences. We need to find things that will make the whole system better, not just fix one thing at the expense of others.

Current School Board members Bll Enriquez and Danny Wheat talked about issues with State laws and things they had to abide by and reasons why they couldn’t accomplish things that needed to be done. Jeff made it clear how he felt about the excuses, saying one of my strong suits is that I always ask why. I’ve had questions for AISD where they would tell me no, you have no choice. The UIL is telling me this. I called the UIL and they asked them directly what is going on here. UIL would say we don’t know what AISD is talking about. That has never been a rule. I have changed laws in Texas around children. When there is a law that is keeping us from doing the right thing we don’t just throw our hands up. We talk to the right people and change it. I’ve done that in the State of Texas.They’re right there are going to be reasons we can’t do what we need to do but we don’t stop when we are told no. We figure out the way to do what is right for our kids every time.

What are your thoughts on AISD’s special programs and are there any that you would add or remove?

Jeff Carr said that he agreed with a previous speaker about the need for special skills training for real life jobs like plumbing and maintenance jobs and said this would be a way to save taxpayer money to allow juniors and seniors to gain experience by doing some of the maintenance work at the schools through guidance with trained professionals.He talked about expanding IT programs and allowing students to assist in real world IT work to help the students get certifications so they could leave and go straight into the workforce. He said we need to open the programs like those at lift to all students and not just say sorry there is no room left in that program so that there are opportunities for all kids.

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?

In what was one of Jeff Carr’s best moments of the forum, he spoke patiently about the need for drastic change when it comes to this issue. Jeff said we have lost a lot of teachers. We are losing a lot and we will probably lose a lot this summer. I’ve personally spent a lot of time talking with teachers about this. I’ve been talking to retired teachers about this and asking them what would it take to get you to come back to AISD cause a lot of them are retiring before they intended to. The biggest problem I see is that there is a perception from the teachers that they can’t even speak to the existing administration. They are scared. I had to talk to them in private. They say please don’t use my name or I will be punished for just talking to you. I don’t believe a lot of the current board members even know what is going on because the teachers won’t talk to them. Carr said this fear is a real thing that we have got to fix. I know a lot of retired teachers that would love to come back but things need to be fixed and they aren’t. When I asked why we lost 23 teachers Dr. Young said well we just had older teachers and they retired and that doesn’t match what teachers that left told me. The breakdown in communications is killing our school district and we’ve got to fix that. Even if I don’t get on the board you have to take an active role to get rid of this perception. If it is a reality we have to solve it. If it is a perception we have to do a better job at communication

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?

Jeff was about the fifth candidate to get a chance to speak on this question and he decided to take a slightly different route. He said the question is on the next one. I am tired of the divisiveness. What has happened has happened. So what I am going to talk about is as a business owner and a CEO, when we went through this what did I do because it is the same thing I’ll do on the board, I listened to everyone. I listened to the experts. I listened to the people claiming to be experts. I listened to doctors. I listened to everyone. I am a mathematician and a statistician. That is where I live , is in the data . So I looked at what data backs up what is being said. If they’re right the data backs them up. If not, it doesn’t. I went through all the published papers and was reading them every day. I am not a doctor and I don’t know how the virus affects my cells but I do understand statistical analysis which is all these studies are. I am really good at reading the data and that is a skill I would bring to the table. I immediately went to github and downloaded the public models and looked at the code and what was going on to see why we were making these decisions and what were we basing it on? The important thing going forward is making evidence based decisions and not acting on fear. Not sacrificing our children because it makes us feel more comfortable. I think it is important to make the decisions based on the evidence, to care for our kids and do the right thing, not do what people think is the right thing. Sometimes that means slowing it down and reading the data. There was a lot of data coming out and it takes work. I spent hours.

Jeff Carr’s Closing Statement at the Forum

In Jeff’s closing statement he said I am excited about AISD. I think we have some amazing teachers. I think we have some amazing staff and coaches. I think we have some amazing administrators. I think we have a lot of people that love our kids and want to do a lot. I believe one person can make a significant difference on the school board because I believe the school board wants to do the best thing for our kids. I believe I can help a lot there because I can present data and different points of view that maybe they don’t hear. Maybe they haven’t heard it that way and if they legitimately care about our kids and about doing the right thing then they will be interested and have a more informed decision when it comes time to make it. I think it is a group opportunity and as a current board member said, it is scary where we are now. Now we are losing more teachers and I am scared for the kids that are in school right now.

Jeff’s opponent has been around for 20 years and it shows. He talked about how we can’t make changes because there are rules and that is that. There is no doubt this is the defeatist attitude that has helped take AISD from a district that was a selling point for people to move here and work to one of the worst districts in the area. When asked about special programs and adding new one Jeff’s opponent continue to claim how great the board did last 20 years and then claimed he wanted to add programs to make all students bilingual, though it was hard to tell if this was sincere or just because it was being held at an event put on by the Hispanic Leadership Council. If he has been in power for 20 years this is something he could have pushed for long ago if he actually was an advocate of this and not just trying to score political points with the Council and its members. When asked about the teacher shortages Jeff’s opponent again talked about providing incentives to recruit and maintain teachers but he has been at the wheel for 20 years and clearly what the current board members have done has been a massive failure. When it came to the issue of mask mandates and school closing his opponent made excuses claiming the evidence that masks don’t work and kids aren’t affected by covid hardly at all wasn’t out when he and the rest of the board voted for this tyranny. That is not true as Jeff made clear. The evidence was there for people who bothered to look. His opponent went on to claim this was a public safety issue and if it happened again he would listen to the same set of people that he did to make the last horrible decision about the mandate. This further proves that the current board members are very set in their ways and are out of touch with reality, the needs of students, and the needs of teachers in the district. Jeff represented himself, his campaign and the endorsement of the Abilene Freedom League well. I found him to be well spoken, involved in the AISD community, aware of the issues, an intelligent problem solver with experience doing just that, and someone that AISD and the board needs desperately. If you want to find out more about Jeff Carr here are some of his important links.

Written by Chris Turner Online Content Committee Chair

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