Public policy is driven and made "real" at the local level. Today we chat about the importance of becoming aware of who is running for those seats, especially non-partisan school boards. You must elect conservatives and people who share your values. The Democrats want to take over every institution they can, but now is the time to put an end to their nefarious ways. We also meet with Lance Redmon, Katy ISD Board Trustee, to hear about his journey into public service and learn a few tips n' tricks for engaging with effectively with school boards.
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Hey everybody. Today on the answer, we put our focus right on the bull's eye for taking back our communities, school boards. We're about to enter into a season of local elections and no position is more important and more misunderstood than that of a school board trustee. I also interviewed Lance Redman, trustee for Katie Independent School District, and we discuss all kinds of topics ranging from his background to trends and issues public schools face today, please consider supporting this podcast, follow me on Twitter, and Facebook at Ben Armenta Texas. You can also find out more about my story at Ben armenta.com. Hey, everyone, welcome back to the latest episode of the answer. This is actually the eighth episode we've published. And I really can't believe we're at this point. I recorded a part one and part two for our series on election integrity. So officially, I guess this is our seventh topic. But it's, it's definitely the eighth episode and time has flown and we're having a blast. I can, I can tell you that I have learned a ton made a lot of mistakes, continue to learn every day. But most importantly, I just want to thank all of you for continuing to listen continuing to give us such positive feedback both over email at Ben at Ben armenta.com. But also on each of the listening platforms that you follow us on this enormous support. And encouragement is is definitely what what motivates me and I love it. So y'all rock thank you so much for for supporting this podcast. So what's coming up in the next couple of months is really important for everyone. And that is our local elections. And one of the public policy arenas that we as Republicans and conservatives really need to go to battle on is our public schools, and school boards are part of those elections. We have ignored schools for way too long. And the wake up call really occurred for many of us during and recently after COVID. And we saw it all across the country. Lazy Instructure instructors who didn't didn't really want to teach and get back into the classrooms, lazy administrators who didn't want to deal with parents, parents, who began to ask questions about what was going on at those schools. Everything moving online. And now, way less personal interaction between students, between peers between students in and teachers, ill equipped schools with limited resources just flat out shutting down for months. And that was really just the tip of the iceberg. What about the indoctrination of kids into different ideologies like Black Lives Matter and critical race theory? What about the instance of of masking policies and other health emergency mandates? And it even got worse from there. The National Association of School Boards and teachers unions convinced the Biden administration and the FBI to label parents, parents who speak out at school board meetings as domestic terrorists. Domestic Terrorists mean can you believe it? Then they started arresting parents and school board meetings, who were just there to speak out on behalf of their kids, parents who are fighting to remove books that are inappropriate pornographic books from schools or who are fighting transgender policies that put or allow boys to use girls bathrooms. It's just absurd. And it's out of control. You know it. I know it. And frankly, the Democrats know it. And they love it. They love it because it works. Let me tell you what they do. See, the Democrats understand that everything in this world that happens to be hyper partisan, say funding of new infrastructure, construction projects, or abortion rights, or gun control. All those partisan issues take a lot of work, to fight. It's a generational grind to move the needle on any of those. So what they do instead is find things that are historically nonpartisan, meaning issues or aspects of society. For decades and centuries, we've all mostly agreed on as Americans because of our shared values. They take those and then they essentially run a covert Black Ops style takeover and use it as a vehicle for bringing our country further to the left. So here's it. Here's a handful of examples. Not letting accused violent criminals and murderers post bail me and just letting them out. Those people for years have been getting out on personal recognizance bonds, which is essentially just their own word that they're going to show up at their next court date, and murderers, rapists kidnappers. So in Texas, the legislature banned those types of bonds. But what did the Democrats do? Katie man back in court today, just a few days after a judge set him free on two bonds totaling a whopping $2 are retailers accused of kidnapping and choking a woman he was dating back in December. Then on Wednesday, he was arrested again for violating his bond provision for threatening the same woman. Today Governor Abbott tweeted lawmakers will eliminate what he calls, easy bail policies. No official word yet as to why the bonds were set up just $1 each. I know why those bonds were set at just $1 each. A Democrat judge was more concerned with woke social justice BS than protecting the citizenry of their community. It's a joke. Our health care system is another example. It used to be that you could have a personal relationship with your doctor. You could go in you could develop a health plan, unique to you, your circumstances, your genetics, who you are. Well, the Democrats used COVID as a chance to execute unlawful overreach, demanding that people go get the shots or they get fired. Even people in the military Navy SEALs were let go. Navy SEALs were removed from the military for not getting the COVID shots. They force people to report whether or not they got COVID to public agencies. And it didn't stop there. They shut down businesses, they cherry picked which businesses they deemed critical to stay open. It used to be universally understood that in business, capitalism breeds survival of the fittest. Every business regardless of size, has the right to compete. Well, not anymore. So schools are just another example, where the Democrats creep in under the cover of darkness and point everything and take everything that is good and right and just and manipulate it. So it goes further and further to the left. Funding Public Schools has been a priority since the beginning of America. And here in Texas, our forefathers demanded it of the Mexican government even before we became a nation. In the Texas Declaration of Independence, those brave men outlined a series of grievances against the Mexican government. And it states in there that the Mexican government failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated, and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil civil liberty, or the capacity for self government. Even back then, they knew that a well educated society was critical to our prosperity. And since those days in 1836 schools and eventually the boards which ran them have remained nonpartisan, meaning you don't the elected officials aren't Republican, they aren't Democrat. They're just members of society. So on the surface, that means that schools are great, because we all agree on them. It's not about Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative. It's just about local people providing local leadership But this is where, if that's what you believe, is occurring, you're wrong. See non partisan schools is really code for vulnerable to a hostile takeover from the left. And you might think I am being extreme here. But one or 2% of bad actors on the left, one or 2%, of, of ignorant, a leftist woke teachers 1% of bad administrators. Their influence is great. Their influence can change and shift the direction of public schools. The Republican Party of Texas this week highlighted that Austin Independent School District, which is really Texas, most politically left wing district is is organizing yet another Pride Week for next month, which is in violation of state law and in direct defiance of the guidance and legal authority directed by Attorney General Ken Paxton. And last year, the attorney Texas Attorney General sent that district a letter saying that they were in violation of state law because of the district's Pride Week. So they did it previously. And now they're doing it again. This is what he said in that letter by hosting Pride Week your district has at best undertaken a week long instructional effort in human sexuality without parental consent. Yeah, they're talking about human sexuality without getting the permission of parents. Or worse, he goes on your district is cynically pushing a week long indoctrination of your students that not only fails to obtain parental consent, but suddenly cuts parents out of the loop. Either way, you're breaking the law. See non partisan is a Trojan horse. It's a Trojan horse for the Democrats, nonpartisan is like Santa Ana and his troops taking a siesta, a San Jacinto. Bad things are going to happen when you fall asleep. So conservatives have to flip the script, we have to go on offense and redefine the policy agendas, even in situations where you may historically have viewed it as just plain Oh, good. Community public policy work. Nonprofits. Take them back. Corporations, take them back. Churches, take them back. You sports take them back. And public schools. We definitely need to take them back. Part of the Texas Education Agency Texas school districts and charters are overseen by school boards. So everywhere in Texas, and in many states, we see these these positions the school board positions, the boards of these independent school districts are elected by the citizens of their communities. While the boards of charter schools are typically appointed. Either way, in each instance, the Board oversees the management of the district and ensures that the superintendent who works for them, implements and monitors the district operations. The board and the superintendent work together as a team to build out the best education possible for the students that they serve. These positions are vitally important, and ensuring your kids get the education they deserve, and are set up for success. So that's why today we're welcoming onto the show, Lance Rev. And Katy ISD, here in Texas trustee on on the school board, and Lance is the position to trustee and is in I believe his second three year term. And he's also serving as the board's vice president for this academic year. And he joins me now. Lance, welcome to the answer. How are you? I'm doing great. How are you today, Ben? I'm doing just fine. So before we get into school board, chat and political chat, we definitely have to to get to know you a bit and talk a little bit about your past and I understand that you were a football player for Katy High School. Is that right? I was born and raised in K He went to elementary through high school. And Katy ISD gave me the opportunity to be excel in athletics and as well academics. And so after Katy ISD had the blessing to be able to play football, not just in Katy, where we want to say championship, my junior year, and that was amazing, but also to experience playing at Rice here in Houston. So for many of our listeners who who might not be familiar, I mean, Katie, they really are the Friday Night Lights. I mean, forget about Mojo and Permian. It's all about Katie. They do it up, right? And they win like a bazillion games. I mean, I'm sure all you did was win. Pretty much when you were in when you were in high school. Is that right? It's easier to count the number of losses we have than the wins. Yeah, I think we added it up one time. And so sophomore, junior and senior year, we played the equivalent of four entire years of high school football, because there were so many playoff games we played, it was awesome experience, like I would never be able to recreate it for myself or a kid or anything like that. It was truly amazing. The cool thing about it is that the tradition continues. I mean, that legacy is is strong, and has gone on for a very, very long time. But it really does build quite a sense of community, doesn't it? It does. And I think when you get to it, there's years that there aren't a lot of great recruits. But you look back at our current coach, Coach Joseph and the former coach, Mike Johnson. And what they really did is, I mean, Mike Johnson was a deacon of my church, he was in my parents Sunday school class. And they're really goal was to build great men. And they did that built on principles. And that that that fells over, spills over to the football field, that if you if you play these with these principles, it doesn't always make you successful in life, but also on the football field. And so it was it was great as a young man to not only have that reinforcement parents, but also by the coaches and leaders in, in on the team. It's it's always, when you're on a team, it's always less about the the tasks and the activities. I mean, it could be military could be business could be, could be high school football, it's all about the principles, the you know, the guideposts the the culture that you build. And then everything else falls into place. If you put culture first everything else falls into place. About I mean, is that I know you also been in business. And I've been doing that for many years. Similar parallels with with some of those things between business and football. Absolutely. So early on coming out of college, served as a youth pastor for three or four years at the church I grew up in steps into church planning for about eight years was associate pastor. And so I have a little bit of a different view of leading volunteers and trying to rally people to give their free time to serve. And then about 2014 stepped into the business world, Senior Living Alzheimer's care. So not a very glamorous industry, but it was an MBA, extremely important. And it was like an MBA, just putting through the fire earning an MBA because you're, you're caring for people, you've got to take care of all kinds of roles. You're dealing with highly emotionally charged situations. And at the same time, you're dealing with staffing and all kinds of stuff. And so walk us through that and then transition to the opportunities to purchase the company I'm at now and again, an entire new industry where I had to gain the respect of my team. This time as the business owner, you have to you have a different kind of carrot, rather than just trying to motivate volunteers. But yeah, so throughout that instance, have had the ability to see what it looks like to lead a non profit and as well and in a business and there are very different but mince. lessons to be learned in those situations. Yeah, I mean it. It's when you when you take over an existing company or a team, or you step into anything new like that. It's always when you're drinking from the firehose, you're trying to keep things afloat trying to make things better. It's a it's a challenge for sure. And culture tends to be really one of those things that can can stabilize and keep things consistent as much as as much as possible. Um, I'm curious a little bit about a A sort of your transition into getting involved in, in politics. Because ultimately, there is a political process that is connected with with being on the school board. But somewhere along that journey, something went off an alarm bell, or, you know, your conscience or something happened where you said, Hmm, maybe I need to roll up my sleeves and get involved. What what was that? How did you get to that? Yeah. So I think, you know, being an adult learning to adult at some point about probably 2016. Right. The election is going on. There's podcasts. I'm starting to listen to me similar to this situation. I'm listening to I think one of the ones was, was a Ben Shapiro show. And I, I'm listening and I'm going wait, he's, he's verbalizing the thoughts in my head. Yeah, this, he's not lying. And he wasn't being at that time. He'd be snarky sometimes. But he wasn't trying to, you know, poke the bear. He's just saying, Look, this is just a great representation of facts and opinion. And so I started digging into that going, alright, well, I need to pay attention to this stuff. 2016 elections happening. Even Facebook, I think at that time was starting to change the algorithm to put more articles being shared. You know, it was you used to have to create a reading list on your browser. I'm gonna check these out today. Well, now they're just coming at you. Yeah. So reading those listening to those things. I was awake and started to pay attention to those things. And about 2017 2018, our school district again, I grew up in Katy ISD, my wife was a teacher at the time, children in the district, and it was just a lot of turmoil going on. And I started looking at going you know what, God's blessed me in a lot of ways. been incredible bus there, is there a chance for me to step up and serve. I've interviewed. I interviewed Kyle Scott, a couple episodes ago, a few episodes ago, he was a Republican candidate in Harris County, for treasurer. And he also was an entrepreneur. And I've had this belief for a very long time, even before Trump President Trump brand that just business people, whether you've owned a business or not just business people have a different way of looking at, at problems, they start with trying to find a solution, they don't just get stuck in the mud, they you know, there's a sense of urgency to make things better not to, you know, when you have to make payroll, when you have to pay taxes, when you have to be accountable to somebody other than yourself, you're looking for ways to reach a positive outcome. And the more that we get those types of individuals, people who are wired that way into politics, I think the better. And so, you know, have you leaned on through your business experience, once you've gotten into into politics and into this position? I absolutely believe so. Right? Stepping onto a board. I mean, there's so much what you talked about the teamwork, right? Each of us a good a good board, each, each person on the board or the team brings maybe a different viewpoint, different experiences. And so I think when you look at the current board, I think they're maybe two or three of us kind of come in from the business world, and are the ones that have to make those decisions understand weighing the difference between offering greater benefits and salary or allowing procedure policy and procedures to work through and in delegating of authority, right? There's the idea that there's a process and it needs to work through the process because if I step in, and try to short circuit that by executive order, or whatever, it messes the entire system up and it really disrespects those leaders that should have the opportunity to fix their problems is absolutely influenced in and I think prepared me for just everything we've gone through over the past three and a half years. The there's a lot of literature out there a lot of articles, a lot of talking heads that have varying opinions on what makes a good board a good school board effective and effective. I certainly want to get your perspectives on this but there's a book that's out there title superintendents for the 21st century. It's not just a job, it's a calling and they talk about boards as well. The author is this guy named Paul Houston. Again, I don't really necessarily agree with a whole lot that that's in there. And one of the points that was raised was, he says that there's killer B's, or distractions for boards. And they are buses, buildings, books, budgets, ballgames and bonds. And then he goes to talk about the critical C's being connections, communication, collaboration, community building, child advocacy, advocacy, curricular choices. Now, as a parent, I absolutely believe that curricular choices are paramount. And some of those other things are community involvement, communication, all that is important. But if you don't do the basic blocking, and tackling Well, around budgets, around space planning, buildings, buses, you don't sort those things out. It's very hard to deliver the academics that go with that. What's your take on where boards should, should be focused and put their time and energy I've ever heard called the killer bees, I really liked that. You know, I'm number one, it needs to be about student success, right? I mean, we're there. It's about the education to children. And we need to make sure we take care of all the things so that that's done in the right manner. And my experience has been our, our administration is pretty phenomenal when it comes to those items, specifically for the last 10 plus years financial accountability awards, will start this next month in March and go all the way through August that every month, there's a budget update, and it says, Hey, we're building a budget for 2425 2324, whatever, the next year's budget, and it's the presentations there, we've got an entire department that is continually looking at things to the future, right? I mean, we're reaching the point where it's now it's not, are we going to be able to build fast enough? While yes, we are still trying to build fast enough? It's okay. When do we when do we slow down? Because we don't want to over build and have all these all these facilities and things? So yeah, I think it's both and you've got to take care of both. But I think the you've got to keep that priority of the success of children and students is why why? Why do we have to put so much effort in the budget and making sure we have a great staff and we have the right facilities? And we've got the right curriculum? And I guess that's a see. But why do we have to do all that stuff? It's so that all the other things can be taken care of in our in our kids can be successful, productive members of society in the future? Yeah, I mean, it really is about for that particular district, that particular academic institution, what does success look like for the students? And then what are the different drivers of success that as a leader, as an Administration, or as a board, you need to enable and ensure Can Can, can succeed, and it sounds like a district that where you reside, where you serve, having strong experience, leadership and administration that can do the planning that can do the bring the financial discipline that really allows then board members to be casting vision and looking even further ahead on what's it going to take to achieve student success, not just this year, but you know, five years, 10 years, 20 years down the road, right? Correct. I think my experience and if I didn't say it earlier, all my viewpoints and opinions are as an individual, not as a trustee and make sure I give that disclaimer. But my experience has been right, coming on to joining a board and this way, you know, my initially like, I'm asking questions, like picking up a rock, like what's under this rock, and you pick up that rock or different rocks and ask those questions 1015 2030 times, but every time you do that, it's exactly what's supposed to be under the rock. You know, it's not like you pick it up, you're like a Ha, I found where you're trying to try to hide things from me. And so I think as a as a board member, right, having an administration that that answers those questions and will give those tough answers at times. But but also there's an inherent disarming, honestly, like the reason you get in many people, the reason they may get involved is because they may not really trust the system, right? Government I want the small government I don't really trust it, but as you get involved Hold and start to dig deeper. I personally have gained a trust, at least in the situation I'm in with. Yeah, because you're, you're exposed to it, you can see it, touch it, feel it. Alright, so so let's just play out a hypothetical. There's a, you know, another district, maybe not meeting the state's targets and objectives, having different financial challenges could be safety concerns could be a wide variety of concerns. We know those districts exists, there are over 1000 districts just in Texas alone, your parent, go just get involved and start to lift over like what are the rocks that are available for a parent to be able to lift in in districts like that to either gain trust or for trying to be a part of the solution? was just gonna run for the school board and get elected? That'd be that's just there are a lot of things. I think that that you're able to do before that. Right, I think if it's a specific issue, right, I mean, say like, personally, you've got an issue that you're dealing with, I think the idea of, of going through the process, right, you start with the teacher work through the principal, like those people that like give them a chance to be successful at dealing with the issue, because you're you're most of the time, I believe you're dealing with the school district, you're dealing with somebody who has has a heart and a desire to see your child succeed. When it gets to the bigger, bigger issue pictures, I think there are ways to volunteer for things. You know, there are there are state required ways to do things, or sorry, some issues have like committees that have to be formed. Right? I mean, there's there's bond committees, there's a sexual health and reproduction committee, the shack they call it something like that shack is what we call it. The Sexual Health Committee is something like this shag, it really, really is. Yes. So the idea of right is that they go through and they assess the curriculums that have to do with, you know, the human body, a lot some of the physical, like, your PE curriculums and stuff like that I'm kind of logged in together, but but there's a committee that you could volunteer to be able to look through those curriculums and then make the recommendation to your community. We have, when curriculums come out, there are times that there's there's public comment on those things to go look at the curriculum and say, Hey, I'm for this, or I don't think this is a good one, or however, that that District presents themselves. So I think serving is a great way to do it. Because I believe leadership is about influence. And so if you're able to participate in those things, and you learn some of the people in decision making roles, you have the ability to influence them, and they see like, hey, this person's willing to serve, they're willing to give their time, maybe they give you a, you know, their their ear turns your way a little bit more. So I think that, you know, kind of ratcheting it up. And then then it kind of gets to the point where say, it's like a really big issue. You've gone through the process. You've you've talked to teachers and principals, I think, you know, what we see put on the news, right? I'm gonna go speak to the school board. Yeah, do it during open forum. And which is a great way I would probably say, you know, probably contact the school board member first. See if you can find out what the real story is behind things. Because I don't know if you know, there's not been a lot of people don't tell the truth. Right. Yeah, it's crazy. That's okay. But but, you know, and maybe they're not purposefully not telling the truth, right? They're omitting some things that maybe don't support their story. Well, but Right, seeking to get to the bottom of it, and understanding that, you know, again, the teachers, the administrators, I firmly believe the majority of the people in these roles want the best for our kids want the best for your kid, my kid, every kid in the district. And so I think assuming charity as you approach that, you, you get a lot better response rather than immediately saying, These people don't want to work with us. They don't like us. They're what they're what they're grooming My child, right. I mean, like there's just incendiary language that when you start throwing that up, people put their defenses up, and I found myself knowing that I want the same exact thing that person wants, but when you they start coming out attacking you're like, Wait, I don't know if I Yeah, you just want to be careful, right? That's clear. That's yeah, that's fascinating. You know, this, this idea that, you know, as a parent, you, you could have had some discussions, you could have had some meetings? Or maybe not, maybe you are just frustrated and feel like there is inaction. That's very real, right. Yeah, typically that clips there at that point, maybe they didn't take all the steps, but they probably did something before they just showed up to the to the school board, in which they felt like it, the Progress was slow or non existent. But this idea that their message might land that much better, if they take a presumptive approach that somebody on that board shares similar sentiments as they do. And they approach and talk to them as a concerned community member, as opposed to this wall that they're trying to break through. And if they approach it like that, even if it's emotional, and they're, they're frustrated, but if they approach it with that kind of heart, their words will probably resonate more powerfully with the leader or the board member that they're speaking with. That's fascinating. Thanks. So I think not just the board member, but the administration there, right. I mean, as a, as a board, we've got one employee, right, I'm not, I'm not your kids, teachers, boss, as a board member, I'm not there. You're the principal's boss. I, uh, we we, again, as a board member, obviously, I'm not even the boss. But the board, as a team oversees the superintendent, he is our one employee that we oversee, we actually did the evaluation this past week. And in those instances, right, he is the person we act through to take action. And so when when they approach us as the board, he may actually agree exactly with what they're saying. Someone else sitting in the room, that is the person that honestly, they could hear what they're saying. And many times we have an administrator go talk to the person immediately, because it's not board action that needs to happen. It just they just need to talk to somebody different. Yeah, so what what would be the types of things that you would say, Look, this is we shouldn't be having these types of discussions. As a team as a as a board. This is something that as a team, we can move the needle on, versus maybe that needs to flow through, you know, Assistant Superintendent of curriculum, or athletics, or whoever handles discipline policies, or whatever it might be. What are the types of things that would make sense for man, we would love the community to bring these items to the board for visibility. You know, I'm trying to think through my experience on the board, what was a time that that was effective? Many times when people step up in front of the board, they're not actually talking about agenda items. So we're not even actually able to comment on them. Right? We just have to kind of sit there. State law says, if it's not on the agenda, you can't talk about it. So we look like cold hearted individuals that don't love kids. Because of that, you know, individual items dealing with your your particular child, I think those are best handled dealing with the teacher prior to their campus. And that's a good, that's a good question. I feel like our administration would would reach most obviously, it doesn't work all the time, because there's lots of people to bring stuff to us. So how do you get something? How do you get something on the agenda? So let us let's say you're you you're willing to maybe have some one on one conversations or work the you know, it's not an emergency, this guy's falling, not trying to create a big ol hubbub, the next whatever week's meeting. How do you how do you get something onto the agenda? So the agenda is normally created by I believe there's some depending on what school district you're a part of it should be laid out in their their local policies about what what makes the agenda so if I'm referring to a specific school district, right, usually, the board president and the superintendent are going to work to set up that agenda. So if you're able to get support from one of them to you're able to get it on, then each school district is going to have different response different requirements as far as can one board member request something to be honest And does it take two does it take three? And so they're local policies are going to oversee that. And so it really would just be finding enough board members that would support it. And not just that they don't support the idea, though, but like they see that a public conversation that that is going to be beneficial for that. Right. Because there's lots of things it'd be like, Yeah, that's great. Like the district should do something like that. But a public conversation doesn't necessarily achieve like moving the district forward. It may help that specific situation, but it may not be something that is deemed valuable for the entire district. Right? I mean, at least my case, 93,000 plus students. Yeah, not. I think, a good portion of the circumstances that maybe we see on TV, again, are just these parents who are frustrated that feel no one has listened to them. You made a comment earlier about contacting a school board member like meeting with the school board member whenever it's a maybe there's a misnomer that the only way you can interact with your school board. Trustees is a public forum at a at a board meeting, but there's numerous ways you can interact with them and get a listening ear and maybe try to work some things through the district is is that right? Absolutely. You know, I think I try to remember no matter who's in front of me whether they're feel like they're attacking me personally, the district whatnot is most time we're not most of the time, we are dealing with people's most important relationship, right? Their child, one of their most important relationships, or I wouldn't say possessions, but Right, their most important possession their child's there. So when they're standing there talking, and I'm sitting there behind the Dyess, like, I do have the ability to go you know what, this is an incredibly super charged emotionally event, they're willing to stand in front of people when people's greatest fears and pour their heart out to us. And I'm not allowed to really respond. But yeah, so contacting the school board member, I mean, we're just community members, in a healthy functioning board, every school board members should be able to sit down and talk through a problem that someone has. And yeah, now, if you look over the past, those same school board members that are willing to do that have gotten burned, and someone you know, records their conversation and twists it and turns in and posted online. You know, personally, what I've watched happen is all interact with with someone and I'll give them hours of time, right? I mean, I'll spend an hour or two talking with them, we'll have some great conversations, I'll share like, Hey, this is this is how I feel about this issue. And then they go on social media and say, This person never talks to me. And they never respond, they're going to be quiet. And you're like, I just gave you three hours of my time that I could have been with my family or my kid or working on my own company. And then you say, like, Wouldn't good and like, you know, so you just you have this inconsistency put out there that when you are willing to open yourself out up to the community and have those conversations, you get stabbed in the back a lot. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's human human nature. It's the ugly side of human nature, where, when people don't, don't see the action that they wanted, that they go try to create it through other channels and poking the bear. Or, you know, creating other emotional tugs on the situation, could be embarrassment, or humiliation or whatever, is a tactic that they try. So it's not effective. Normally, one especially, I mean, my time on the board past three and a half years or so less than a year in COVID hits. And so I've also been my experience has also gone through one of the most emotionally challenging charge times, I think, probably anyone's cohorts history. I don't know is it was on the news. I mean, the paper sometime full song. Yeah. But that was one of the things we're walking through. So, you know, you're sitting down and they're asking about masks and you're trying to weigh this data and that data and then the deeper question, do you literally have enough information to make that decision? That is going to affect 93,000 students, 12,000 employees that at the time, right, I mean, that now we know things? But at the time when the decision was made, you're willing to bet the life of that biology teacher? Yeah, I guess we can all Monday morning. quarterback now. Yeah. And yeah, I said this recently, on another episode that, you know, we we didn't know what we were stepping into. And we were we were trying our best to figure it out as we went. And were there are things that I agreed with Yes. Or the things I disagreed with, for sure, were the things that we would all do differently. I think so pretty much everybody would say that they took some action or participated in something one way or the other. They wish they had done differently. But but that's life, I will say, I will give your board and your superintendent some credit. Y'all were in a very difficult situation. And I was very impressed. I mean, maybe it's simple now looking back, but I was very impressed with the the decision that was made and the situation being that the, the district lies across portions of three different counties, which have three different county judges, which here in Texas, there is some significant executive authority that they hold, especially around health care policy. And at the time of COVID, they were making very different decisions around maths around lockdowns. And there was guidance coming out from the from the federal government, there was guidance coming out and information from the governor's office from TDA. And ultimately, Katy ISD said, we can't have this three different ways. We're going to follow the guidance coming from the state coming from the governor. And that essentially became the sort of guideposts for the entire district. And it created some consistency. And people knew what to expect, and they knew what to follow. And I was I was definitely impressed that they that you guys made that decision during that very difficult time. Thank you. I hate the word guidance after the past two and a half years. Yeah, you say that word. I started to twitch? Yeah, there's lots of that. Right. So but that was a very challenging period for for everyone and for managing and navigating the schools, probably more so. But it was it was impressive. So let's shift gears here a little bit, then down the path around some policy nuisance. You bring up COVID? What? We've got a legislative session happening right now in the state of Texas, we've got a lot of potential bills that are going to have impacts on academics on student success on schools, boards on financing. I know Katy ISD put out some legislative priorities. I'm sure each of those are important. And that's why they made the list. Which one of those priorities is the one that you're really keying in on and saying, look, we got to get this one done. It's going to be great for for Katie, students if we can pull this off. Yeah, I think so for what we did this years is we did listening circles and actually tried to we invited the community to to come in and tell us what their priorities were. And we took that that was a probably had, I don't know, we invited a couple 100 people to be a part of it. Who showed up, it was less than that. The number one thing that popped up in every seat, I was at every listening circle. And the number one thing that popped up was more programs, teacher pay all those kinds of things. And as we brought that back down, it was it was a stagnant school finance program. Right? So Katie, Katie, every school district, the funding per child, right schools are funded by the number of butts and seats. And so it's not enrollment, it's actually who shows up at the school, and they get $6,100 and some change. And then it's there's some weighted modifiers that go on that based on what population the kid might qualify for, or come from. And that's the same house bill three in 2019. Set that amount. And so this legislative session, the big push, everybody's talked about inflation, everybody's talked about how things have changed and more expensive and eggs cost a trillion dollars, and but we're still getting the same amount of money from the state, as was said in May of 2019. So the big push Katy ISD kind of came up with was let's come up with a formula. It's driven by an index that keeps up with inflation. So we're not done pending on legislature to come back every other couple of years, we can clearly lay out people can plan, make good budgeting decisions as a district so they can be financially responsible. And we can keep up and take care of this stuff. So that is that's the Myth number one we have, is this the kind of thing that you work with other districts on and try to build some, some alignment and consensus and try to bring it together? Or does Katie just sort of go to Austin and socialize this with various legislators and try to get a sponsor and then go that route? How does it How does it eventually get legs? Yeah, so we're in the process of doing that we were we're starting off this year was alright, let's figure out how to get that input from our people. And let's figure out what's effective going back. So the idea was, it's been years probably since the Katy ISD, or at least our district has adopted a legislative priorities, even a list put together, so we have that. And then our kind of approach was kind of that grass, whatever, this one with the say, the grass tops, the grass roots. And now, now, it's the people that that already have those relationships. And what we're doing is, is the trustees are trying to go up there, and we're trying to get a small group of people to go make those appointments with our legislators, sit down with them, say, Hey, we've sat down with, you know, hundreds of people in our district, and this is what they've said, it's important to us. Our superintendents been with those people, our CFO has been testifying in different hearings and whatnot, that I'm not hearings, but committee meeting type issues. And so he's had the opportunity to come sit down in in and make a push that way, in the local area, or at their local office, as well as going to Austin to do that. Okay. All right. So so, so some finance reform a little bit, and some calculation and funding aspects. What's what's number two? So what we have is state testing and accountability. And so I fully believe accountability is important. I mean, the things that have shown most effective for the success of students across America business guy, right, there has been accountability. Yes. Right. But you've got to measure the right things. Right. And so leading lagging indicators, those kinds of things, and I don't know that our current system is measuring the right things, at least doesn't incentivize the right things. And so there are some things that we put together, we said, reducing the number of state required assessments, let's figure out exactly what has to happen. That's the most important assess that maybe there's other things that already exist other than star, the star this year is moving to be fully digital, at least I think, like third grade and up. We've got a big outcry in our district right now that, hey, my kid is not super familiar with using the computer and now you're going to, you're going to test them as a student during the year and then they're going to take the star tests and yeah. So there's some things like that, that the way it's being carried out is that accountability and assessment like, obviously, education, knows testing is important. But this high stakes testing that everything rests on how a student performs on one day. Maybe there's better ways to measure that. Yeah, so that's the second item we have. Yeah, we do have a little bit of just everywhere across the country, you know, death by assessment, really, we really need to assess the right things, measure the right things, hold people and institutions accountable. But, you know, the, it just feels like when there when there isn't assessment or people don't have visibility in the current state of affairs, then they oversaturate the situation and assess to look at cows come home. So I'm all for that for sure. How are we doing with teachers? It's tough. I know. We we we definitely need to pay teachers more that that's definitely a priority. They're doing the Lord's work as far as I'm concerned on a great teachers out there, especially the ones that teach to the curriculum, and don't stray off of the curriculum and start winging it and coming up with with their own priorities. But how are we doing with identifying and bringing in and retaining best teachers in your district? Yeah, so one of the things for for Katie I mean, there's always ways that we could probably get better. I mean, nobody's perfect. One of the things was creating our own teacher training program, right to help help bring like kind of a Grow Your Own program where we bring people in, and we work to get them certified. Right. So you've got a bunch of great people that have a college degree. And they want to, they want to transition into teaching. And let's, let's take them and train them up. So that we have that we have that we're able to see some of the way we want them done. Or some of those things that I mean, the the school funding for teacher compensation again, that's what people say, right? They don't, don't necessarily always leave a bad job because of the pay, although the pay could be great, right? It's a lot of times the leadership, so how do we train? How do we train up our teachers, our principals? How do we remove those things that are not essential to education, or my wife was a teacher. And early on in our marriage, a lot of her time was spent grading papers at home at night. And then later in our marriage, the last couple of years she taught it, so much of it was spent on these other meetings and things that I didn't think necessarily were really tied. They were they had to be done. But they weren't really tied to making kids successful in the classroom. Yeah. So which was just kind of that the fourth thing we have is House Bill 4545. If there was a fourth, we've got four things on our priorities. Okay. And it was a unfunded mandate that said, basically, if they fail the STAR test, we need to put 30 additional hours of tutoring on him. Well, there was no money to pay for the tutoring. And yeah, a kid, it didn't take into account special ed. So if a kid if they had a special plan, they still had to go through and do these other tutoring, even though their plan said they would have accommodations. And so there's some of those things that I believe all these things were well intentioned by our legislature. But when the rubber hit the road, it caused some big problems and, and clean some of those up. And I think that's okay. Right. I mean, nothing, you said it earlier, even at a district level, nobody's perfect. This is why we need more volunteers, we need parents to get involved. This is why it's a good thing here in Texas, our legislature meets every couple of years, we've got they've got an opportunity to get back into the district to understand, you know, the senators and the representatives what's going on back at home, and then they've got an opportunity to go even make the bills that they passed two years before, make them better, and hone them in and make them fit for purpose and deliver the results. But I love your comment, really around removing waste in the system, bureaucracy wastes things that if they're if it's not a driver of student success, then we should challenge why are we doing it? Love it, but love it was like a zero based budgeting idea for policies. I love it. It's gotta it's gotta happen. So what, what is one thing that you've learned or surprised you once you got elected and became a board member, some misconception or thought that you had about what it was going to be like, you get elected? You're serving? And you're like, Whoa, that's not what I expected. Good or bad? Yeah, um, man, I'd say it's almost like the truth doesn't matter. I firmly believe the truth matters. But I'm amazing out in the public, how the truth doesn't seem to matter at times, and, you know, things that I've watched before or people that I listened to their show, and then I know what's going on, but I hear how someone got connected. And God got on as a guest and the things they say, and I'm like, that's not even remotely true to what happened. But you know, like, as a as a district, you've got to be quiet about it. Not not, you have to be quiet. The goal isn't to win the argument many times you do you have a higher priority of that child's success. So you can't tell the story, right? You could win if you told the truth and laid it all out there. But you also might take a person down like a child down. So many times there's a there's an entire other side of the story. And it makes sense. And honestly, if you realize how much is left out by admission, but when you're able to see the entire picture sitting in the seat as a trustee. That was very surprising to me. All the things I thought I knew, wow, they're horrible. I was like, Oh, I might have made the same exact decision they did if I could see the entire picture. So how do we create more transparency into what's going on? Because As I believe you, I believe that there are a lot of circumstances where the truth isn't, what is or the full picture isn't what is communicated, or what is shared more broadly. But I also believe that 90% of the constituents 90% of the families, if not higher, want to know the truth and fully what's going on. So how do we reconcile that and bridge that divide? Never know, the most frustrating thing for me was the Texas Open Meetings Act. Okay. And I know, the idea is, it's created to create transparency and put things out there, but many times it limits what can be talked about. It honestly limits things getting done to it again, not not for the purpose of, of hiding anything, but just for effectiveness. You know, if every meeting you had to have, I believe, right, with my team, I want radical transparency, right, I want them to come in, and I want them to give me their unfiltered opinion, and ask those deep questions. But when you're asking some of those deep questions in the middle of in the middle of the entire public, it honestly, it probably limits a lot of the questions that are asked by trustees, because am I gonna get cancelled? Is my kid gonna get made fun of is my kid gonna get attacked? What's the trustee to say? What's this going to do for my business? I mean, there are there are serious consequences. In today's day and age for asking some of those questions, even even as a conservative that was willing to step up and run, you're still going, am I willing to put my, my family or my wife or my business at risk? To ask that question? Oh, wow, that that's, that's eye opening. I mean, because as as a voter, that's what I want from my elected officials, I want them to, to ask the tough questions, I want them to be bold, and come up with ideas that others haven't thought of, and to work them until they fail fast, and then come up with another one and do to be creative, that that's what I that's what I want out of out of the leaders that we elect, and I think many people do. But I also want those those people to feel that we have their back. So I think that there's a call to action with the listeners of this podcast and your family and your friends to think about how you are supporting and providing the community behind the people that you elect, so that they continue to be empowered to tackle the hard issues and to do it to the best of their ability for sure. So I appreciate you, you know, you highlighting that Lance? All right. So y'all go ahead? Well, I was just gonna say the other thing is, most everything is put online. So I mean, if you wanted to, if you wanted to look at a financial report, or you want to look at most contracts, I even think might be up there. They obviously they keep some stuff that might be proprietary to a specific company, or, you know, we're not, we're not going to get up there, Texas Open Meetings Act is really clear about the things that can be done in private. So the board usually goes into a closed session every time. But there's like five or seven things, we can talk about personnel contracts, buying land, Superintendent evaluation, and safety and security. So it's very limiting. And everybody, at least in my situation, has taken what we're allowed to talk about in closed meeting very seriously knowing that, hey, this is these are these are laws that we're we're bound to, to live by. And so when we go back into closed meeting, I know it's easy from the outside to think like, that's where the real business is getting done. And they're making all these backroom deals. Yeah, reality like this smoke filled room, right? Yeah. But in reality, it's literally like we have a very limited agenda of the things we can talk about there. And if if we're gonna go into closed sessions, because there's a real deal, nobody in our district wants us broadcasting what land we're looking at, or trying to buy, because then they're gonna pay more for it. Right? Nobody wants us to go through you might want us to, but as you thought about it, if we laid out every single security measure we had in place and what we've been doing, while yes, as a parent, it would make you feel better. As a bad actor. It gives me a playbook for how to circumvent those things. Right? Right. So we have some for some very real reasons to go back and enclose and talk about those things. And then everything else is it's really put online. I mean, you're able to see almost down to the check register. I mean, there's there's lots of things we've talked about that is like that's, you know, our superintendent contract, right? You want to know how much he's paid, it's online, you want to know what happened the last time we evaluated them, if we did something was contract, it's online. Right? I mean, that there's one of those things that those things are there. If you go ask somebody where they're, you know, your website, Google a lot of those things in the search bar, and you're gonna have more documents than you know what to do with to answer those questions. I think this idea of, of open forum and outside the board meeting, you know, listening circles, subcommittees, any type of town hall, so to the listeners, anything you can do, whether it's at your school level, or more broadly, to find some sponsorship, through the PTA through through principals, assistant principals, to who are willing to create some forums where people can speak what's on their heart, they can communicate bi directionally. And not just, you know, one way, the better, the better. The schools are better off when parents and community are involved, period. I don't think anybody's going to debate that. And the more that we can open up the lines of communication, likely the better, for sure. So, so Lance, before I let you go, I gotta ask you the most important question. So but by a couple. Ballpark how many schools are in Katy? ISD? Do you know off top your head? 73 Yeah, something like that. We're, we're about to open our 10th High School, we have 17 Junior eyes 18th is being built. And then I think tonight we're doing the dedication for elementary 44 And we just named 45 and 46 A it's almost I mean, you're nipping at the heels of 90,000 students, right. I mean, it's like dang close. 93,000 words. Maybe maybe 500. Wow, a couple days ago. Yeah. 100,000 before? Yeah. So growing district lots activity. Okay. The most important question out of all those schools not named Katy High School. What is your favorite mascot? So I'm probably gonna personally I'm have to go with Gosh. Miguel. McElwain is the owls because it's a nice owl. I'm partial to that one. Now, as a former Katy high school graduate, I would, I would say tigers, but yeah, I mean, that's gonna be the most controversial question I asked in this entire for sure. So the owl, I mean, there's a lot of there's a lot of great ones out there. I mean, that there's warriors and coyotes and all kinds of stuff. So the owl Lance, that's pretty wise. Well, it's a loaded question. I got it. Mr. The right sounds there we go. Yeah, that's good. You're safe ish. Well, I promise you this. When this podcast publishes, it will be unfiltered. And people can hear the truth. And Lance and I appreciate you coming on. Appreciate you stepping up and volunteering, representing, you know, your your family, your faith, conservative values, and in your community, to the to the best of your ability. That's, that's absolutely all we can ask. And it means a lot that you came on this podcast that it means a lot that you're willing to interact with the community day in and day out. So thank you very much. Thank you very much. I'm honored to be a part today and again, in any listeners that want to know more about how you can do that, or if you know your situation, as much as we have time, I'd love to be able to answer that question or at least give you as much time as I have available then to maybe guide you in the way it is to approach some approach a situation or, you know, answer whatever ever, I can be of help. I appreciate it. Thanks, Lance. Thank you. Thank you so much for listening, everyone. As always, you can email me your thoughts to Ben at Betterment to.com. I'll be sure to like, follow and share this podcast with your family and friends. Take some time this week to research who was running in your local elections, especially school boards. Are they conservatives? Do they share your values? Find out and tell a friend. Until next time. Thank you again. And God bless the answer. With Ben Armenta is sponsored by the kicking crab, the latest and greatest Cajun concept to hit the southwest. They offer down home flavors and it's one of those places where you're gonna want to take the kids. No plates just good times brought to you by folks that have strong conservative values, like you and me. Visit them off of Highway six in Houston or at the kicking crab.com