The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SE instructor educates students from time in White House

By Marley Malenfant/se news editor

Darrell Castillo  Photo by Casey Holder/The Collegian
Darrell Castillo Photo by Casey Holder/The Collegian

He comes into class wearing a Polo shirt and blue jeans with Nike sneakers, lecturing his classes with an Al Pacino intensity.

SE Campus government instructor Darrell Castillo has taught government for 20 years and is considering running for Congress.

Castillo said he has an advantage over most professors having actual experience working in the White House. Before his teaching career, Castillo worked as a National Security Council member from 1982-1985. It was during the Cold War, and Castillo was an expert on the Soviet Union.

“I became fluent in Soviet tactical and strategic nuclear war fighting doctrine with an emphasis in NATO defensive doctrine,” he said.

He said his goal is to get students to “think outside the box.”

“We all come with preconceived notions of a lot of things,” he said. “My mandate is to disturb some of the preconceptions that some students may bring to my class and to disturb a lot of the stereotypes that students may bring into the class.”

Castillo grew up in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. He was 17 when he met former President Ronald Reagan at the now-demolished Bronco Bowl in 1976. He said that event made him interested in politics and eventually led him to the White House. In 1982, while on his way to an interview for a job, Castillo met former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, whom Castillo had previously met.

“The White House career was definitely falling into the right situation at the right time,” he said. “Reagan’s field director who became the White House deputy chief of staff remembered me. I had an appointment at the White House for a job in public liaison. I was walking down the hall, and Michael K. Deaver saw me and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ ‘I’m here to interview for a job.’ He said, ‘Well, follow me.’”

Castillo was supposed to have an interview in the presidential personnel office. Deaver instead recruited Castillo to serve on the National Security Council.

“We went to his office, and it’s several doors down from the Oval Office,” he said. “He remembers my first name, ‘You’re Darrell from Oak Cliff, Texas.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m Darrell from Dallas, Texas.’ He says, ‘Well, I remember you.’ He starts asking me about my background. He brought in the guy in charge of Soviet Affairs on the National Security Council.

“I can definitely say I got that job by being at the right place at the right time. And if you have the right political credentials.”

Castillo said there was a set of differences between Reagan and former Vice President George Bush that turned him away from the White House.

“I was ‘Bush-whacked,’” he said. “There was an internecine struggle between the Bushites and Reaganites. I deplore the ‘neocons,’ and I am proud of my classical conservative heritage. I call myself a ‘paleocon.’”

Castillo said his three years in the White House started to change his beliefs as a Republican. Castillo said he wanted to remain who he was before he entered the job.

“There’s a lot of negativity and a lot of internal politics going on,” he said. “After a while, you can only take so much of it, and you come to the self-realization that you’re becoming that which you dislike. It’s not corruption-free. You see it every day. You either leave the environment or you stay in the environment.”

Castillo started teaching in fall 1989 at El Centro College. Castillo has taught with Dallas and Collin counties and Paul Quinn College in Dallas. Castillo came to South Campus in 2006 and arrived on SE Campus in 2008.

In his two years on SE Campus, students and faculty have tried to convince Castillo to run for Congress. Castillo said students have even gone as far as creating a Facebook page titled “Friends of Darrell Castillo,” to persuade people to get Castillo to run for Congress.

“One of my students told me I say a lot of controversial things in controversial ways,” he said. “I said, ‘That’s teaching. I want you to think outside of the box.’ So one of them says, ‘Would you say the same things if you were on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s an interesting intellectual masturbation exercise.’ Yeah, I would say the same things I say in the classroom the same way.”

Castillo said he’s not certain if he will run for Congress in 2012 but said the idea of running is “humbling.”

“I have put an exploratory committee together,” he said. “But for me, government is not theory. I’ve actually practiced it at the congressional level and the executive level. I’ve seen it firsthand and have been involved in it. So it’s humbling to think I could actually go back and be a policymaker.”

Castillo believes he would have a strong following if he were to run.

“Do I think there will be a lot of support if I run? Yeah, I think students would come out of the woodwork,” he said. “Do I have something to contribute from a multicultural perspective? Yeah.”

Castillo expressed that even though it would be a plus to work in Congress, he has more power in the classroom lecturing students.

“I have come to the realization that I am doing more in the classroom to affect the future of America than I ever did when I was on any congressional staff or on the White House staff,” he said. “I’ve lost count of the many times students have told me, ‘Because I see you up there, I know I can make it.’ And these are generally students of color who tell me that. And that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.”

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