Archive for January 20th, 2016

HISD, Again

Commentary is not going to spend a lot of time on changing the names of some HISD schools. I think more energy ought to be spent on educating the kids at HISD. I will say though that just in case folks don’t know, Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederacy and a slave owner. He wasn’t a reluctant Johnny Reb corporal.

Yesterday’s ‘Stros twitter trivia question was about post season dingers. Everyone now knows that Carlos Beltran holds the team record with eight post season dingers in 2004. How many did he hit in the 2004 NLDS and how many did he hit in the 2004 NLCS?

From CNN yesterday:

Bernie Sanders’ lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire is on the rise, with the Vermont senator leading the former secretary of state by 27 points, 60% to 33%, a new CNN/WMUR poll has found.

How does that happen? Team Hillary is now saying that this race could last a while.   Well that means Texas is in play so maybe both campaigns will invest in our primary. That’s a good thing.

The Chron E-Board has some words for the HISD Board of Education today. All I can say is the Board knows what they are doing. Here is from the E-Board.


First impression

Ideological battles must not compromise our goals and ambitions for HISD students.

Copyright 2016: Houston Chronicle

January 19, 2016

“Another such victory and I shall be ruined.”

– King Pyrrhus of Epirius in Greece after losing almost all his men in the battle of Asculum.

The children of the Houston Independent School District are not soldiers, but the metaphor is pointedly apt to describe last week’s HISD school board meeting. A 5-4 board majority successfully demonstrated it can control what happens in the district. But at what cost the Pyrrhic victory?

Take the split board decision about magnet school designations. With no public input, the board set aside its own rules for determining which schools qualify for magnet status – one that automatically will draw extra funds to the designated campuses. Ten schools got the nod; five were in the outgoing board president’s north Houston district even though only three had applied.

“I decided to stop listening to all the reasons why we can kick the can down the road and become more proactive about stopping that inequity that has persisted in this district since I came here in kindergarten,” outgoing board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said at the meeting Thursday.

Whether magnet schools are inequitably distributed is a valid and important question for a district that has made strides in closing the achievement gap for minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. But the board’s expedited process for this vote and others last Thursday (not the least of them, the weakening of ethics rules) are an example of poorly considered governance and will erode public trust. Whatever good intentions may have been the motivation for the board majority, why not wait to gather public feedback, develop a fiscal analysis and build consensus about the allocation of district resources?

School and community leaders know they won’t always get the resources they ask for. But they deserve a fair hearing.

“The secrecy of all this suggests cronyism and corruption,” Patty McGrail, president of the parent group at Field Elementary, told trustees Thursday. Field did not get a magnet program despite applying for one.

Administrative leadership is not the role of the board. Two new board members joined the board Thursday, though neither is new to the district nor to the notion of a governing body’s proper role. Former trustee Diana Davila and former City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones joined the HISD board for the first time Thursday. Unfortunately, the introduction of the new board to the community did not leave a good first impression.

That’s worrisome in particular because of the picture it paints for prospective candidates who will seek to replace Superintendent Terry Grier. His resignation is effective Feb. 29, and the board has not yet extended an offer to a new leader.

Surely, that future leader will want to know that the HISD school board works collaboratively and effectively, and values input from the community and school leaders. The best potential candidates will be attracted to major school districts in which the board has strong support from a broad cross-section of parents and taxpayers. If the pattern of split votes that revealed itself last Thursday continues, it will raise a red flag for the prospective superintendent.

The dustup caused by last Thursday’s meeting notwithstanding, the district must move forward. Our community needs a reliable pipeline of educated workers, and HISD is our largest public school system with 216,000 students and a $1.86 billion operating budget. Ideological battles must not compromise the goal of providing the best education our community can deliver.

Now potential superintendent candidates have E-Board takes to read. Oh, well!

Carlos Beltran had four dingers in the 2004 NLDS and four dingers in the 2004 NLCS of course.

Nothing to report from the team caravan.

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