Weatherford Democrat

February 26, 2014

Student running for AISD board


Weatherford Democrat

— By JUDY SHERIDAN

An 18-year-old Aledo High School senior concerned about the lack of career technology education — and its effect on the future of Aledo ISD students — is making a bid for a seat on the Aledo ISD school board.

James Riley Morrison, state president of the Future Business Leaders of America, has filed for Place 7, opposite trustee Hoyt Harris, who has re-filed for another term.

“I’m doing this because I believe our teachers and students need a voice,” Morrison said, “We now have seven businessmen, and it’s been quite a few years since they’ve been in a classroom.”

New House Bill 5 gives school boards a larger role in determining curriculum and curriculum standards, Morrison said, and as a trustee he could promote career technology courses, which he says the district lacks.

“This is for college and non-college students,” he said, “Basic Business Principles, Powerpoint, Excel...

“Computers are the way the jobs are going, and we need a curriculum that’s engaging and will prep students for college and the work force.”

The two courses Morrison has taken at Aledo High School — accounting and business information management — have been helpful, he said, but students — and teachers — want more.

“A lot of our teachers do have business degrees, and some are not really doing what they would like,” he said. “It’s not translating directly into the curriculum.”

Morrison estimates his candidacy is supported by about 10 teachers at the intermediate, middle and high school levels, as well as by paraprofessionals and support staff.

Their support must stay low-key, however, to abide by board policy, Morrison said.

Board policy on the ethics of elections states that officers or employees of the district cannot expend or authorize the expenditure of district funds for political advertising.

In addition, newsletters from public officers of the district are defined as prohibitive political advertisements if they support or oppose candidates for nomination or election to public office.  Morrison has asked a teachers’ union to support him as well, he said, but knows of no official decision.

Age discrimination has been a factor in the campaign, said Morrison, who believes he has “made some people mad by just being a candidate.”

He reports he has raised just enough funds to cover a website and other social media.

“We have yet to have received enough for a campaign sign,” he said. “We’re fighting an uphill battle.”

Morrison has lived in Aledo his entire life and is the son of Glenn and Tammy Morrison, who he describes as “very supportive but letting me do this on my own.”

 Donna Roe, secretary to Aledo ISD Superintendent Derek Citty, said Morrison, who will graduate in May, is old enough to serve.

“Our question is that we don’t know his college plans,” she said. “You have to live in the district.”

Morrison said he will probably commute from home to TCU, UNT or UTA.

“Aledo ISD has offered me so many experiences and opportunities,” he said, “and I want to ensure that for the next generation.”