Dr. Karla Duran: Education opening doors
Dr. Karla Duran is running for Northside Independent School District, the fourth largest school district in Texas located in San Antonio. Education has opened doors for Karla. She is a lifelong learner, receiving several higher education degrees. She is also a lifelong teacher, working extensively in San Antonio’s K-12 inner city areas and collegiate education systems. Now, Karla wants to give back to the educational systems that made her who she is.
Karla was born in Mexico City, Mexico and immigrated to Arlington, Texas when she was six years old. Karla’s mother was a blue collar, single parent who did the best she could to provide for her family. For Karla, public schools filled the gaps Karla’s mother couldn’t possibly fill working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Public schools provided Karla an opportunity to excel, describing education as “a door for her to exit poverty.” While in school, Karla learned English as a second language, and was in honors classes by the third grade. She would use her newfound skills to help her mom’s friends and neighbors translate important documents and apply for jobs. “Education for me was a door opener. It was key. It was fundamental,” she said.
Karla decided she wanted to go to college but could only afford to pay for applications to two colleges. This was her first exposure to the idea of college—she didn’t know anyone personally at the time that had attended college. Karla wasn’t sure which colleges to apply to so she could attend Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, and Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Karla ultimately graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University where she was a part of the Project Student Excellence, a program of the McNair Scholars Program for first-generation college students. She went on to receive her bachelor’s and master's Degrees. Karla recalled having a class with a female professor, a defining moment in her education. She remembered asking that professor “What do I need to do to be like you?” That professor told Karla to receive her PhD. She took that advice to heart. Ultimately, Karla decided to pursue her Doctorate from Our Lady of the Lake, calling herself loyal to her alma mater.
In addition to pursuing her own degrees, Karla started a career in education. While in her doctoral program, Karla worked full-time as a teacher and coach in Northside ISD. She then went on to work for Alamo Colleges where she served as an industry liaison, placing students in internships in aerospace, manufacturing, mechanical and stem related careers. Karla then returned to the classroom in Alamo Heights. Finally, she accepted a role as a School Administrator in San Antonio ISD where she’s been working for the past few years. Now, Karla has her sights set on the NISD District 3 school board of trustee position.
Running for office is something Karla has always wanted to do. Karla recalled listening to former Texas House Representative Dr. Joe Bernal give a speech about his work with the Robinhood Bill, legislation that imposes a higher tax rate on wealthier school districts to disperse among lower income school districts. Karla spoke with Dr. Bernal after the presentation, asking him to consider lower income students subjected to that higher tax rate in wealthier districts. It was a moment that inspired her decision to run for office.
Karla wants a new voice to the NISD table—one that she believes actually represents the interests of families, bilingual students, and the constituents of the district. She described the current state of education as a crisis. “Students and teachers are not the same from before the pandemic,” she said. If elected, Karla wants to ensure the district is supportive of students and teachers’ social-emotional well-being. She also plans to advocate for fair pay for auxiliary workers such as janitors and lunchroom staff. Additionally, Karla wants to enhance the fine arts programs and prevent student over-testing.
Working as a full-time school administrator and running for office is nearly impossible according to Karla. She believes time-management and a supportive network of community members have helped her handle the stress of running for office. Karla didn’t have any formal training before launching her campaign. She relies on other folks who have run for office and pitches ideas to friends. For the questions she can’t find answers to, Karla does her own research. Karla wants to defeat the notion that running for office is limited to folks with money and extensive experience.
Karla advises the next generation of women+ to practice self-love. She believes her love for her Mexican heritage and her individuality helped her feel confident enough to run for office. “I think that, if we can show young people how to love themselves, empower them[selves], provide them[selves] opportunities, and be a resource to them as mentors, I think this world would be a better place,” she said.
To learn more about Dr. Duran’s campaign for Northside ISD Place 3, visit her campaign website here.