UPDATED April 1 to include comments from Siino.
With public education issues dominating national and state headlines, and many local school district elections just around the corner, one North Texas school board candidate is proposing unique solutions to better serve students and parents in his district—starting with firing the superintendent.
“It is clear we need a change at the top,” says Spencer Siino, a businessman and father of four who lives in Highland Park—part of Dallas’ wealthy Park Cities enclave.
Siino is running for a school board seat in Highland Park Independent School District. By all standards, the district of about 7,000 students is rated high-performing.
But Siino says the standards have been lowered under the leadership of local superintendents who have followed a national trend: shifting public schools to a special interest agenda promoted by education bureaucrats, at the expense of traditional education.
“I believe all the parents of this community want their children to graduate high school with a strong foundation in academic knowledge and skills that will be relevant throughout their lifetimes,” Siino said this week in a letter explaining to district voters why the “first and most important pillar” of his plan is replacing the district’s top administrator, Superintendent Tom Trigg.
He said Trigg and past administrators put the district “on a path of a technology-driven, political values-focused approach, centered around ‘Professional Development’ rather than a traditional liberal arts primary education.”
How could they not? It’s what they were trained to do. Most Superintendents across the country come to the job with a PhD in “Educational Leadership”, a pseudo-science that trains budding educational bureaucrats (“Educrats”) on Critical Race Theory, new and unproven ways of teaching math and reading, EdTech, and other specialties that do nothing to serve the interests of the children of Highland Park.
Siino wants to replace the superintendent with a “classical educator” who can return the district to a traditional curriculum focused on reading, writing, math, science, “real history,” and classic works, as well as “prioritize resources on teachers rather than administrators and technology.”
The Founders of our country, all of whom were classically educated, proposed a public education system not because they wanted to produce a modern workforce, but because they knew that in order to preserve the American experiment of a Republic that is of the people, by the people and for the people, the citizenry would have to be educated.
Siino also wants the district to sever ties with taxpayer-funded lobbying groups for administrators, like the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB).
These groups promote policies designed to benefit school district officials, often to the detriment of students, parents, and taxpayers.
According to Siino, they also train educrats to implement experimental, politicized curricula and methods, as well as policies that prioritize administrators and technology over teachers.
TASB is the Texas affiliate of the National School Boards Association, which last year compared parents protesting at school board meetings to domestic terrorists. That prompted calls for TASB to withdraw from NSBA (they haven’t, but 20 other state affiliates have) and for local school districts to leave TASB.
Siino’s proposals would require support from a majority of school board members.
He told Texas Scorecard he believes other trustees will embrace his plans.
“For the first time the people of our community will have the opportunity to vote on a real plan,” he said. “When I win, I will have a clear mandate to take these actions.”
Siino is running against Ellen Lee for the open Place 5 seat.
Lee is a Highland Park graduate and longtime volunteer in the district. As of publishing, she didn’t respond to inquiries from Texas Scorecard.
Two other HPISD school board seats are on the May 7 ballot. Trustee Bryce Benson is running unopposed for re-election to Place 3. Tyler Beeson is challenging incumbent Jae Ellis for Place 4.
Early voting starts April 25 in the May 7 local elections.