By Shirley Tarpley
Candace Valenzuela is originally from El Paso, Texas, born to two active military parents. Her mother worked on airplanes. Her father, a “red beret” paratrooper jumped out of them.
Valenzuela is a proud product of Texas’ public schools, but she also knows what it’s like when the system neglects you or outright abuses you.
As an elementary student, she was well-behaved and made good grades, but there were more than a few times she was assaulted and bullied; her family was too poor to employ a lawyer, and she often had to endure the abuse while the administration insisted she must have provoked their ire.
She does not doubt her academic performance was impacted, but she persisted and made it to high school, where the bullying continued until a high school principal in the 10th grade didn’t tolerate that kind of behavior. Under that administration, she thrived and graduated.
She attended Claremont McKenna College, a top ten liberal arts college on a full scholarship. Her major study was in government, with an emphasis on leadership and classical political philosophy.
Through her college studies, Valenzuela he was privileged to study abroad in Northern Ireland, where she learned about the politics of “the troubles” governments face in conflicts and had the opportunity of doing an internship in Washington D.C. at C-SPAN.
Valenzuela worked as a counselor at a girl’s group home, essentially being a parent to kids too rough for foster care or just leaving probation, while practically being a child herself. She said that college was rigorous, but this was just rough. Many of the things these children went through stuck with her, and she has not forgotten how the system fails them.
She has worked in test preparation, private tutoring and college application consulting. Some of her students that she was mentoring in the 8th or 9th grade got into Harvard, Oxford, and Brown, among many other wonderful schools.
Valenzuela has worked in programs designed to help special needs students attending mainstream schools with other children with success.
Dealing with children with emotional difficulties and 504 plans (individual growth plans for students) she got a sense of how hard parents work to make sure that their children succeed, even in the face of poverty, long work hours and nearly impossible demands.
Valenzuela has always cared about government, education and equality of access by all citizens.
What does she stand for?
Honesty and rigor in Math and Science – We know the value of having a society that invests in STEM and schools must encourage students in this study to support facts.
If parents want a class based on religion, then the district should build world religions class into our curriculum.
If a parent wants their kids to be Christians, take them to church, take them to Bible Study. Feed the poor. Give money and follow Jesus. Don’t put the state in charge of their relationship with God.
Investment in our children’s health: Studies show that more active kids are happier and healthier. We carefully fund our football programs in this state, but we do very little to help kids develop sustainable health programs for their lives.
So much of PE is tailored to playing general sports, but we still need to update the PE equipment for kids. Schools need to update diet curriculum not to match prevailing trends, but to match current research so that kids know that “diet coke” is not a health food.
We need to strive to that there are as few barriers as possible to providing a good education for our special needs students, regardless of language spoken at home.
As a board trustee, Valenzuela will have little control over what the legislators do, but she is committed to working with other board members in being responsible for working with the superintendent to make sure the needs of all students are met, this is incredibly important.
This means there should be no disproportionate punishment or ostracism of any one group of children regardless of race, religion, gender, or socioeconomic status.
Valenzuela desires to see to it that all students have a level of representation that is dynamic and responsive to their needs.
Some communities do not believe that they can discuss issues with district officials because they do not look like them or do not necessarily believe their issues even exist!
Given the fact that I’ve been in the trenches in one way or another with Black, Latino, and Asian students in addition to White students, there’s very little I won’t take into account when making decisions or advocating for certain policies.
Careful stewardship of existing funds: My mortgage is high enough, but I know that a quality education is not just good for me or my child. An entire community benefits socially and economically when more of its children are well educated.
The district passed a tax increase very recently, and I would like to help shape the vision that allows the funds raised goes to the right places.
Valenzuela believes in term limits. The district has developed a crisis of representation partially because there are no term limits. In order to ensure a robust and representative school board, term limits should be a permanent part of policy. She would like to push for three 3-year terms, or for two 4-year terms, saving the district hundreds of thousands of dollars by cutting down the number of elections.
With this resume, Carrollton and Farmers Branch residents will benefit from this candidate’s childhood experiences, education, training and employment experience.