Check the source link for numbers listed in this article: https://schools.texastribune.org/districts/texarkana-isd/
In 2020, Armani Valentino, became the youngest and first individual of color to run for the highest position in Bowie County, TX; County Judge. While he came up short in votes, his campaign efforts were stellar and well respected by individuals from all parties and walks of life. He has proven his genuine desire to see things change for the better for our local community.
After continuing to remain committed to serving the Texarkana community and the youth in the area, he was approached by many to run for TISD SCHOOL BOARD TRUSTEE. As the son of a retired educator, long-time volunteer tutor, speaker, and education workshop facilitator for the past 20+ years, up to the college level, he's a firm believer in education. He even started his own online training school for working adults wishing to transition into IT.
He believes that in order for things to get better in the area, we have to make a commitment to support the TEACHERS with top pay, resources, and continued education for their career growth. Why do TISD Teachers earn $6,617 less than the state average? Individuals who would be great in the district opt to go to other places based on pay, overall support, and their ability to be able to serve the needs of the children. At all tenure levels, TISD teachers earn less than the state average.
"I love making a difference in the lives of those who make up the community," says Valentino. "A rising tide lifts all boats! The better educated and skilled children we have, the better future we'll have in Texarkana and surrounding areas. We can build all the buildings we want, but if we don't build the children for the future and pay the teachers better, we're in trouble."
Some of the parents of the children currently in the district were left behind, and the data shows. Let's take a closer look.
a. PreCovid, 33.1% of households in Texarkana TX, earned less than $25,000/year, and 21% currently live in poverty.
b. Less than 25% of the high school graduates had a bachelor's degree in Texarkana, TX.
c. 57.5% of students were considered at risk of dropping out of school in TISD.
d. 76.5% of TISD students are considered economically disadvantaged.
e. Only 23.4 % of students were college ready in both reading & math in TISD.
f. Nearly 20% (18.8%) of the students who started 9th grade in the 2017-2018 school year did not graduate and/or graduate on time.
These results didn't happen overnight. Too many parents have been left behind, and now the children are being left behind as well.
Education, Poverty, and Crime
The last 20 years have produced more criminals, government-dependent, drug-dependent, and little-to-no skill-having individuals than we've probably ever seen in the area. While this may not be a problem we can solve 100%, there's a direct correlation between quality education, crime, and poverty. Valentino believes, "We've devalued education and neglected to set a standard for all children to adhere to and it's caught up with us. We've allowed mediocrity to become the new standard. Quality education is the responsibility of the community at large, starting with the parents and the educational decision-makers, which include the School Board trustees."
He further stated, "Children are our most valuable asset. And we have to be in touch with their needs. How long are people supposed to stay on the school board, and think they're still in touch with the challenges that today's young people are facing? I think it's time for others to run for TISD trustee positions and let's make a difference. It's time to pass the torch."
When it comes to qualifications, Armani Valentino is a national bestselling author, publisher, and has written, co-written, and published over 40 books. He's served on the boards and committees of countless organizations throughout the years. He is also the founder of #BuyBackTheBlockTK, an initiative he started to rebuild/rehab homes throughout the Texarkana area, focused on creating safer neighborhoods. The organization also holds a yearly Rose Hill community cleanup which has been supported by the Texas High School Athletic Department and others in the community. He holds a Finance degree from the historical University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and is currently an MBA candidate. Most recently, he has been awarded business contracts in the field of technology including contracts with two Fortune 10 companies, CVS Health and Toyota.
"Some of my most fulfilling accomplishments are when I meet individuals that I have inspired to go after their dreams, and years later they tell me how much I inspired them to achieve their success. I've received many awards, but when this happens, it is priceless," says Valentino.
Visit AVforTISD.com for more information.
Early Voting ends Tuesday, May 2nd, at 5:30pm. Vote at TISD ADMINISTRATION BUILDING located at 4241 Summerhill Rd, Texarkana, TX.
Voting day is MAY 6th from 7:00am - 7:00pm at the following locations:
Highland Park Elementary
401 W 25th St
Texarkana, TX 75503
Goree Academic Center
3201 Lincoln Ave
Texarkana, TX 75503
Sullivan Performing Arts Center
3941 Summerhill Rd
Texarkana, TX 75503
Nash Elementary School
100 Burton St
Nash, TX 75569
Wake Village Elementary
400 Wildcat Dr
Wake Village, TX 75501