Carlos Marroquin filed to run for a DISD trustee seat the absolute final day he could register — March 7, two months before the Saturday, May 7 election. Three District 2 candidates campaigns already were in full swing — Preston Hollow’s Dustin Marshall, Oak Lawn’s Suzanne Smith and M Streets’ Mita Havlick — so why did he decide to file?
“I want to bring awareness and get more people involved,” Marroquin says. “They get lost. I felt like I got lost, too.”
The 44-year-old Cedar Springs resident and W.T. White High School graduate doesn’t have a campaign website but his Facebook page features pictures of him visiting different DISD schools. He describes his campaign as “grassroots.” He worked in the labor movement for 14 years as a union area director and this past year has been a Dallas ISD substitute teacher. His wife, mother and brother are all teachers, and Marroquin says he has “always had that itch. … Not until you try it do you see what your wife talks about.”
His school-age daughters are zoned to Rusk Middle School and North Dallas High School, but they attend Catholic schools St. Monica’s and Ursuline Academy. “I was raised with that and I wanted my kids to have that base,” says Marroquin, who attended Holy Trinity Catholic School before W.T. White. “I also wanted my kids to be in a safe environment,” he says.
Marroquin would have attended North Dallas but as a teacher, his mother “knew the system” and was aware of the district’s majority-to-minority transfers in the ’80s as part of the desegregation court order. He filled out a transfer form at a school board meeting — the only one he’s ever attended, he says.
“In the ’80s [North Dallas] was a tough school to go to and was low-performing,” he says. “My mother never said, this is about you being with the Anglos or high-income people, but it’s safe — that was the word. It was safe.”
It’s no surprise, then, that discipline is one of the issues he wants the school board to tackle:
• “We don’t know what issues [students] have at home that they’re bringing into school,” Marroquin says, believing that schools may need more resources focused on counselors and even psychiatrists. “I want to fight that in my district we get in every school what every school needs — and it’s going to be different for every school. … Not until you get into the classroom do you see what the problems of discipline can do.”
• Teachers need higher and uncapped salaries, longer contracts, more consistent leadership and more freedom, Marroquin believes. “You go into a classroom and see the TEKS stuff on the wall,” Marroquin says. “If we don’t have consistency for teachers, we’re going to keep trying and failing to find a silver bullet. We need to give kids the money they need, give teachers the right pay and let principals do their jobs.”
• As a native Spanish speaker from Mexico who attended Dallas schools, Marroquin also wants to change the timeframe of when Spanish-speaking ESL students transition to English. “In preschool it’s OK,” he says of teaching in Spanish, but “you put an anchor on them if they learn everything in their own language. Kids are a lot smarter than that. We don’t do it for any other immigrants.”
Marroquin says that those he does hope to raise awareness of the May 7 election and Dallas ISD issues among a different constituency of voters, he also wants to win
“It’s an uphill battle, it’s David against Goliath,” he says, “but I’m not afraid of hard work.”