All candidates for office are invited to send letters explaining their positions to the voters of Nueces County via The Paper Trail News. It is our policy to publish all such letters. Please keep your letters under 1000 words. NOTE: All letters will be published as submitted. The Paper Trail will not proofread or otherwise edit candidate letters. If you would like to attach a picture, please submit it with the letter.
Jeff Rank came to Flour Bluff when his father, John Rank (USMC, USN ret), was stationed at NAS Corpus Christi, serving as the Staff Judge Advocate for the Chief of Naval Air Training and retiring at the rank of Commander. Jeff’s mother, Grace (RN, BSN), made a home for the family in Flour Bluff, where Jeff attended K-12 at FBISD. After graduating in 1993, Jeff attended law school at the University of Houston where he was the recipient of the Marvin D. Nathan Fellowship. Before practicing law, Jeff earned his BS and MS and became an oceanographer, and his research included computer modeling techniques and exploration of submarine cave systems. He is married to Nicole Rank, who has earned her BS and LMSW. They have two children, Abigaile and Theodore, and a dog named Fred. The Ranks make their home on the Island. Jeff owns and runs a small business in Flour Bluff, Rank Law Firm, PLLC. Jeff is an active member of Rotary International, the Texas Bar Association, and the Corpus Christi Bar Association. He is Past President of the Flour Bluff Business Association, Past President of Padre Island Rotary Club, serves on the Board of Directors of the Flour Bluff Foundation for Educational Excellence, is an active member of the Flour Bluff Citizens Council, and has served on the Civil Rights Committee of the Anti-Defamation League (Southwest Region).
The following is a letter from Jeff to the voters in the Flour Bluff Independent School District:
I believe in Flour Bluff ISD. In 1980 I was lucky enough to start kindergarten there. Flour Bluff teachers changed my life and continued to make a difference for me even after I graduated from FBHS. I now have a 2nd grader and a 5th grader in Flour Bluff, and we chose to move back to Flour Bluff from Houston specifically so that our children could attend Flour Bluff schools. So, when I say that I believe in Flour Bluff ISD, I mean it.
Now I am running for the Flour Bluff ISD School Board because I want to ensure that Flour Bluff schools stay strong. School board members are referred to as “Trustees” and are entrusted with a very important objective: making sure our children receive the outstanding education they deserve. Therefore, it is important for those of us seeking that office to be absolutely clear about what we believe.
I believe in academics. Continued focus on academics is essential to every aspect of success. People choose to move to Flour Bluff because of the outstanding education Flour Bluff schools offer students. We need to refocus attention on basics like writing, where performance both in Flour Bluff and around the state has lagged recently. It is imperative that we give all students a strong foundation.
I believe we need to reinvigorate and expand our vocational programs. Not everyone wants to go to college, and not everyone should go to college. We need to offer vocational classes on campus to give our students the ability to get good paying, career level jobs right out of high school. Currently, we outsource vocational training to the Craft Training Center and Del Mar. Those programs are excellent, but they leave gaps. Flour Bluff should offer its students on-campus vocational training in areas like auto shop, welding, and cosmetology.
I believe in independence. We are Flour Bluff Independent School District. When we constrain our teachers by forcing them to adhere to a rigid curriculum (as was the case when the district adopted CSCOPE, an inferior curriculum program championed by my opponent), we limit their ability to teach, and ultimately our students suffer. I believe in teacher autonomy. Every class and every child is different. We have outstanding teachers who can create curriculum and adapt lessons to get all students to where they need to be, but we must continue to give our teachers the freedom to do so. We must let our teachers teach.
I believe in accountability. “Trust, but verify.” Giving our teachers the autonomy they need to teach does not mean abolishing standards. Testing is an important tool to evaluate a student’s progress. High-stakes testing creates perverse incentives and results in a decrease in the quality of education for our children. We should evaluate progress without forcing teachers to “teach to the test.”
Finally, I believe in well-rounded students. At the school-board level, this means strong support for all extracurricular activities. We have a new field house and soon will have a new natatorium. Both are outstanding, and both are things of which we, as Hornets, should be very proud. However, extracurricular support does not end with sports. We need to ensure district level support for music programs (like our Hustlin’ Hornet Marching Band!), arts programs, UIL scholastic competitions, and all of the programs that are necessary facets in the education of a well-rounded person.
We, as Hornets, are strong. We have much to be proud of, and I believe our children have a bright future. I ask for your vote so that I can help steer Flour Bluff schools toward that bright future. Together, I believe – no, I KNOW – we can take Flour Bluff schools to an even higher level of excellence.
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.