Shaunte Allen: Passionate educator turned politician
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Shaunte Allen’s election is fast approaching in May, as she is running for DeSoto Independent School District Board of Trustees, Place 7. Her affinity for education reform spurred during her 15 year career as an educator, where she works with developmental students hands-on in the classroom. If she were to be elected, Allen would focus her efforts on securing opportunities and resources, particularly for students who are lower-income and in need of educational remediation. As someone who was raised in a single-parent, low-income home, Allen hopes to serve as an advocate for the students in her community experiencing similar circumstances. Her top priority: ensuring equity to close the achievement gap.
Allen was born and raised in the Dallas Fort-Worth area, beginning in Oak Cliff and expanding into Pleasant Grove. Growing up, Allen described her childhood as challenging, citing a low-income, single-parent household. She remembered her mother working long hours to take care of herself and her sister, who is five years older than her. In fact, Allen looked up to her older sister as one of her first role models – she described her as “smart, professional, and quick-witted”. Allen also admired her sister’s confidence, drawing on it during her own indecisive moments.
When she began her career as a teacher, Allen quickly realized she wanted to expand her impact as an educator by serving in a leadership position. She ruled out becoming a Principal, knowing that pursuing a position of higher administration would entwine her in the “bureaucracy” of the school district; Allen wanted to remain hands-on with the students. Allen began to cultivate her teaching skills . During this time, she also became more involved with her community. She had volunteered with several organizations over the years, but knowing how important it was to reach a larger platform in order to affect change, she sought out Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals in 2007. She quickly realized that social justice needed to be fought on a political level as well as a grass roots level.
She became a professor and department Chair at Cedar Valley Community College. After a call to action from other female politicians, Allen decided to run for DeSoto ISD School Board - bringing together her desire to improve education for her community while still connecting with students.
Allen launched her DeSoto ISD School Board campaign in February of 2018, focusing her campaigns efforts on securing equity in education across the district, recruiting effective educators, and enhancing technology. If elected, Allen would serve students in the City of DeSoto and the City of Glenn Heights, both encompassed in DeSoto ISD. Allen described the region as an affluent community, with a median income of $55,000 to $65,000, yet a large proportion of the students served are considered low-income. These students tend to graduate with lower overall test scores, leaving them with inadequate knowledge for college; some students who graduate from DeSoto ISD tend to need remediation courses, to bring them up to date, in college. Allen plans to solve these inadequacies by introducing reading literacy courses beginning in elementary and middle school supported throughout high school, citing research she uncovered during her Master’s program that shows schools with strong reading programs are more likely to succeed. In addition to literacy programs, Allen wants to supply reliable support services for special education students. She recommends hiring more special education specialists across the district.
When Allen started her journey towards public office, she had little to no background knowledge about running a political campaign; the only thing Allen knew is that she wanted to transform education in her community. Immediately, Allen began attending formal campaign programs provided by entities like VoteRunLead and Together Texas. She also began attending online seminars and webinars that focused on detailed aspects of campaigning like fundraising and voter engagement. Allen then started to connect with other women through social media who had either previously run or were currently running for office. She also began leaning on the support of the Urban League and NAACP in the Dallas area, knowing that these groups would provide invaluable networks of other like-minded and engaged individuals.
Allen recognizes that systemic barriers exist with the intention of preventing women from entering politics. Specifically, Allen feels that women are not granted an even playing field when it comes to work-life balance, citing that female employees who have children are negatively reflected upon when they don’t have equal hours in office to their male counterparts even if both parties present similar workloads. Allen believes women with children should be measured on completed workloads as opposed to billable hours, or time in office. Allen advised women interested in pursuing politics to recognize that theycanhave it all, saying “women want to help everyone, and they can. They can still have jobs where they are fulfilling their need to serve others by helping on the forefront as CEOs, campaign managers, or politician.”
Shaunte Allen is currently running for DeSoto ISD School Board of Trustees, Place 7 with the election taking place in May.