Editorial: After ‘poverty pimps’ flap, Austin ISD must focus on kids


We by no means excuse the words former Austin Independent School Board President Kendall Pace used in a private text to a fellow board member. Her language was uncouth and unprofessional. The fallout cost Pace her position on the board as those she offended along with political foes turned up the political heat.

Pace’s judgment in making derogatory comments even confidentially threw into question her ability to continue leading the board, despite a huge accomplishment achieved under her tenure: The passage of a $1.1 billion bond package last year – the single largest in the district’s history — to build and upgrade Austin ISD schools and technology.

In the text, obtained by the American-Statesman through an open records request, Pace said the district only would be considered for the Texas Education Agency’s Transformation Zone Program if target schools – struggling campuses in Northeast Austin – were set up like charters, “i.e. one with balls to ignore the special interest groups and crazy ignorant community activists and poverty pimps.”

Pace later apologized for “the crudeness of the discourse,” explaining that it was a “rant born out of frustration over the lack of urgency by many adults to address the inequities in student outcomes.”

Her apology and resignation this week bring that controversial chapter to an end. The board now should concentrate on the most urgent issue facing the district: the lagging academic performance of the district’s African-American, Latino and low-income students. That is the challenge — crisis really — Pace focused on during much of her tenure.

As the district moves on with a new board president, Geronimo Rodriguez, that issue should be priority No. 1.

Too much time already has been lost and the clock is ticking on the futures of thousands of kids in Austin ISD, as Pace pointed out in her swan song this week. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.



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