Houston Chronicle Endorses Erica Lee
If you've never heard of the Harris County Board of Education, don't feel bad. Even among people who care about school boards, this one maintains a low profile.
We're pleased, though, that the sleepy board has attracted two unusually well qualified candidates. In the Democratic runoff for Position 1, Precinct 6, former Houston City Councilmember Jarvis Johnson faces Erica S. Lee, a promising political newcomer.
The Harris County Department of Education's functions are important but hardly glamorous. The department's main job isn't to run schools; it's to support the 26 independent school districts that operate in Harris County.
The department, for instance, operates a co-op that allows all those school districts to buy food and supplies as one enormous unit, at lower prices than any of them could negotiate alone. The department also runs adult-education programs, administers federal Head Start grants and Early Childhood Intervention programs, and supports after-school programs.
For the job, we endorse Lee, who combines real-world teaching experience with an impressive policy background. She taught first grade at HISD's Lantrip Elementary before studying public policy at Duke University. After that, she served on a team that helped New York's Gov. Eliot Spitzer prepare a $21 billion education budget - a budget that brought universal pre-K classes to New York kids.
Lee's energetic campaign and long, wide-ranging list of endorsements - among them, the Houston Federation of Teachers, the Harris County AFL-CIO, Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Area 5 Pasadena Democrats - indicate both how seriously she takes the job and how well she'd be able to build coalitions to support our county's schools. These days, our schools need all the help they can get.