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Lydia Ortega, PhD


I earned a doctorate in economics and was fortunate to be mentored by some of the most iconic, influential, even Nobel prize-winning, free-market economists in the world. I brought this training with me when I returned to California to teach at San Jose State University. 


I served for 30 years giving students the tools to pursue their dreams. I spent 15 of those years as Chair of the Department of Economics where I established a specialization in free market economics. We had outstanding professors and amazing lecturers.  We all took a personal interest in the academic development of our students. We challenged students to think in and outside the classroom with events such as our Provocative Lecture series, Social hour meet-ups, and Saturday-afternoon reading groups. This team of educators established an unparalleled track record for sending students, including first generation college students, onto doctoral programs. I fought to give our students an education that was worth the money and their time. I wanted them to have the economic reasoning and problem-solving skills that would allow them to reach their goals.


Although I am now happily retired and living in Plano, my passion for serving students is undiminished.  Every student has unique attributes, strengths and weaknesses. Every student has a dream.  Our job as parents, educators and community members is to see that these students receive the foundational skills in reading, math, history, and science, to purse their dreams whatever they may be.  

I hold high expectations for each individual student. These students are not responsible for the sins of past generations; they are not even remotely responsible for the color of their skin.  Education is about giving students the resources to live a life of meaning, of work, of community, of family, love and laughter as they choose.  Educators have no right to conscript them into a war of social agendas. They are not pawns to be segregated by the color of their skin, or made to wear the psychological lashes of some historic atrocity, or to measure their standing by how many times they are perceived as victims.

No student should be stripped of dignity, a unique sense of self-worth, or a desire to strive for better. I’ll bring my educational experience to the board and ensure that we give every student the best chance for success.

Along with my educational background, I’ve been a founding board member for a number of organizations and a member of nonprofit and corporate boards. I understand the structure of how a board relates to the community and how their decisions direct the CEO, or in this case, the superintendent. The school board, like any other board, has a fiduciary responsibility to the community it represents.

I am committed to parents having a voice in board decisions, to teachers being supported and paid competitively, and above all, I am committed to ensuring students in Plano ISD have the best academic opportunities in the state.

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