Students and alumni spent this past Saturday knocking on doors to campaign for Rice University faculty member and alumnus Robert Lundin’s run in the Houston Independent School District school board election.
Lundin (Wiess ’00), who is running for HISD District VI truee, has taught a course on Contemporary Issues in Education (EDUC 202).
“Rice offered me the jumping off point in which I have felt inspired [and] empowered to start a life in education,” Lundin said. “It started with [teaching] only 22 kids and now to a position where I could potentially be serving 220,000. That couldn’t have happened without this place.”
Early voting for the six HISD trustee positions up for election is from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3 and election day is Nov. 7. If elected District VI trustee, Lundin would join eight other trustees from the nine single-member districts of Houston in the HISD school board.
With a debt of $100 million and news reports that special needs students and second language learners are not receiving the services they are legally obligated to receive, HISD is at a crucial juncture, according to Lundin.
“There are a lot of challenges that are being experienced at the school level,” Lundin said. “If we don’t fix them right now, it’s going to be ten times worse later on. If HISD and its 283 schools aren’t working well for students, it doesn’t just affect the kids in the school, it affects the entire city.”
The Rice Young Democrats emailed out volunteering opportunities for Lundin’s campaign to their listserv.
Maurice Frediere, Rice Young Democrats co-president, said he supports Lundin’s decision to address the lack of services to special needs students and second language learners.
“I view those two issues as the most critical facing the district in the next five years, and Robert’s experience and platform indicate that he is prepared to bring about change for students,” Frediere, a Duncan College junior, said. “It’s a tremendous moral failing of our community that we’re leaving behind kids who have the same aspirations and determination as traditional students.”
Danial Syed, a Will Rice College senior, participated in the door-to-door campaigning and encouraged others to volunteer at Will Rice’s student government meetings.
“By supporting [Lundin], I really think that Rice students can have a good impact on Houston’s community by improving the way Houston serves low-resource kids,” Syed said.
Lundin said the position of trustee would have the power to shape the long-term path for the school district.
“When you literally hold the future of more than 200,000 students in your hands, every decision you make needs to be anchored on what’s in the best interests of students and their families,” Lundin said. “It’s setting the school on a path by which will not only be sustainable, but successful in the long term.”
Alex Nunez-Thompson (Sid Richardson ’16) who currently teaches physics at YES Prep Brays Oaks, created Lundin’s campaign website and many of the campaign logos.
“While my school does not fall under the Houston Independent School District, as the 7th largest school district in the nation, and the largest in Texas, what happens in HISD has a ripple effect in the area and across the nation,” Nunez-Thompson said. “I would rather this ripple come from a person of integrity, whose heart is in this for the students and not for the name recognition as some of his opponents are. I believe that person is Robert Lundin.”
Syed said he feels that Rice students have learned more about the community and ways to become involved after Hurricane Harvey and hopes it will continue, regarding the HISD school board election and beyond.
“A lot of Rice students went out and volunteered [after Harvey], and I think that was a positive change for Rice students because they got to see more of the outside world,” Syed said. “Even after that crisis, I’m hoping that Rice students will continue to serve Houston and continue to learn more about Houston because it’s an important thing to do.”