The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Thomas Kinlaw III has unfinished business with the Port Arthur Independent School District.
The 45-year-old retired United States Army captain has served on the PAISD board of trustees for the past three years — currently as vice president — and is seeking reelection to continue helping the district retain the exemplary status it enjoyed in the 1970s.
“We were in the top 5 percent of the state,” Kinlaw said. “I won’t quit until we are back to that.”
A graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School, Kinlaw holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Texas Southern University, as well as a masters degree in counseling from Prairie View A&M University. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Prairie View A&M University, studying educational leadership with a concentration in human resources.
Kinlaw said that his 21 years in the military and experience as a middle school history teacher with PAISD, coupled with his three years on the board, make him a qualified trustee. While he has sat on the board, he said, test scores have improved; administrative positions have been cut in half; and the relationship between the administrators and teachers has strengthened.
“We’re on the rise,” Kinlaw said. “We may have critics saying we’re moving at a slow pace, but we are moving.”
But there is still room for improvement, Kinlaw said. He believes the board’s biggest hurdle is adjusting to changes brought by the new State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests and the implementation of House Bill 5, which renovates students’ graduation plans.
“We have to make sure all our students are given the opportunity to be successful,” Kinlaw said. “The biggest challenge is finding programs conducive to learning, along with finding certified, highly qualified teachers and making sure they teach our students the way we want them to be taught.”
Kinlaw is running on a platform of accountability, discipline, leadership and staff development. Community involvement also ranks high on his list as a trustee.
“We’re fighting for the community and the students,” he said. “That’s the number-one goal, and that’s the goal I’m going to stand by.”
Kinlaw has a history of involvement with organizations such as the National Alliance of Black School Educators and Kappa Alpha Phi Fraternity, Inc. He and wife Valerie have a blended family consisting of five children.