Matt Barnes says he’s running for Houston ISD school board to represent kids. But with anti-LGBTQ affiliations, a work history of pro-charter school advocacy, and republican money funding his campaign, I’m not sure. Here are five questions that have me concerned.
1. Will Matt Barnes support HISD’s inclusive non-discrimination policy?
Matt Barnes is a leader at several anti-LGBT rights organization. On his campaign website, he lists that he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the College of Biblical Studies.
The College of Biblical Studies is an explicitly anti-LGBT organization. They have multiple doctrinal statements on their website, including one titled on CBS Definition of Marriage and a second CBS Statement on Human Sexuality.
The CBS Definition of Marriage includes language such as:
“Marriage is intended to be between one man and one woman as God biologically created them male and female at birth (v. 4b). Hence, any other proposals for marriage are outside of God’s intended design”
The CBS Statement on Human Sexuality goes on to say that God intends that sex should always be “monogamous between one man and woman.” The statement details what sexual actions are “always prohibited” in the Bible, and puts homosexuality, and “transgender identification” in the “prohibited” list alongside rape and bestiality. It openly interprets the Bible to say that homosexuality, genderfluid and transgender people are forbidden.
The CBS Statement on Human Sexuality further directs:
“All board members, administrators, faculty, staff members, students, applicants, and all volunteers must agree to adhere to in attitudes, actions and beliefs these principles as well as the below-outlined actions and other related acts that are prohibited in Scripture, both explicitly and in principle.”
As a parent, I’m concerned about whether we can trust him to enforce HISD’s important nondiscrimination policies--policies so many Houstonians worked hard to put in place to protect students and that are regularly under attack by state officials.
2. What does Matt Barnes’ time serving on the boards of two different charter schools say about his commitment to HISD’s historic neighborhood schools?
Matt Barnes has served on the board of Yellowstone Charter School. Yellowstone’s current board chairman, Lionel Jellins, serves as the Barnes HISD campaign treasurer. Jellins is also an elder at Barnes’ church, City of Refuge.
Additionally, Barnes serves as a current board member for BakerRipley Promise Charter Schools.
Who does the Barnes campaign work for? HISD’s constituents or HISD’s competition?
3. Will Matt Barnes represent the kids and families of his district or the powerful people aligned with either conservative state policies, keeping property taxes low, or district vendors that profit off of HISD’s $2 billion annual budget?
Matt Barnes’ biggest donors:
Robert Edwin Allday-a descendant of Walter Fondren Sr, founder of Humble Oil company
Ed Emmett-former Republican Harris County Judge
Julia Wareing Aldrich-granddaughter of Jack Blanton, one of Houston’s original oil magnates
Jonathan Day-a powerful Houston attorney who works to organize the business community’s money around school board candidates
Jeff Bricker-architect and husband of former HISD trustee and State Board of Education member Laurie Bricker
Paula Arnold-former HISD trustee who helped bring what we know as the education reform movement to Houston ISD in the 1990s.
4. Why is Matt Barnes’ campaign connected to an executive responsible for Houston’s federal child detention center?
Matt Barnes took money from the Chief Financial Officer for Southwest Key, Eric Marin. Southwest Key is the vendor that runs the U.S. government’s facility in Houston which holds migrant children separated from their families. Southwest Key also runs a charter school network in Texas.
5. As a school board member, will Matt Barnes continue advocating for charter school enrollment?
Booming charter school enrollment is one of the reasons HISD owes recapture payments to the state and regularly struggles with annual budget deficits and cuts to classrooms.
Matt Barnes worked as Executive Director of Families Empowered for two years. Families Empowered is a nonprofit founded by Colleen Dippel, the wife of KIPP charter school’s founder and ousted CEO Mike Feinberg.
Families Empowered works to make it easier for families inside HISD and other local area school districts to apply and enroll in charter schools. Under the guise of helping families “find the right school for them,” they drive kids away from neighborhood schools—sometimes to magnet schools but mostly to charters.