Archive for February 5th, 2016

Super Bowl 50

There is a front page story in the Chron today that says Texas will be in play during the primaries. That is good thing and good for turnout. Go pick up your Chron and check it out.

Commentary has watched all of the previous 49 Super Bowls.

The first one played was on both NBC and CBS but don’t ask me which network I watched.

The most memorable and best one was Super Bowl III when Joe Namath of the Jets guaranteed a victory over the Colts and won. It was a statement that the AFC/AFL would not take a back seat to the NFC/NFL.

The most bittersweet was watching the Titans play.

I root for the AFC teams. It is an Oilers and Texans thing. I think though I did root for the Saints a few years ago – a Katrina thing.

I have never been to a Super Bowl. It is really not a priority with me.

I would like to see the Texans play in and win a Super Bowl someday.

I will root a little extra for the Broncos on Sunday because of Coach Kubiak and Wade Phillips.

Among MLB pitchers, who hit the most dingers and RBIs last season?

Here is part of what the Mayor put out the other day:

Mayor Sylvester Turner has selected former Houston Independent School District Trustee Juliet Stipeche to serve as Director of Education, a new position within the mayor’s administration.

“Juliet is very passionate about education and children and I share that passion,” said Mayor Turner.  “She is a visionary with transformative ideas.  Her collaborative approach of working with parents, administrators, business, law enforcement and neighborhoods will help achieve my goal of moving this city forward and reducing the income inequality that is so often the result of deficiencies in the education system.”


“The creation of this new position is meant to compliment, not compete, with the hard work of our area school districts,” said Turner.  “Creating the strong, well-educated Houston of tomorrow will require everyone working together.  Juliet is the perfect choice for ensuring my vision gets implemented.”

“I am excited and deeply honored to work with Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is committed to building a City where educational equity and opportunity exist for every child regardless of zip code,” said Stipeche.  “I look forward to collaborating with fantastic community partners to build lasting relationships to promote educational excellence in the City of Houston.”

Go for it. Mike Morris of the Chron has a piece on Stipeche today and in the article Council Member Jerry Davis refers to Stipeche as an “education czar.” That is jumping the gun a bit. Let’s wait a while until we can see results before we start assigning czar titles.   Here is all of the Morris article:

Mayor Sylvester Turner has named former Houston ISD board president Juliet Stipeche to a newly created Director of Education role in his administration, seeking greater collaboration between the city and area schools, community colleges and universities.

Many council members and education advocates praised the move, even as some acknowledged Stipeche’s effectiveness could be limited by the inherent gap between the city and local schools districts, which are legally distinct and governed by separately elected boards.

Turner said Stipeche, who will report directly to him, will work with parents, administrators, law enforcement agencies and neighborhoods, seeking grants and better coordinating what dollars Houston already directs to youth and educational programs. He tied the appointment to his oft-repeated goal of reducing income inequality, saying that social divide often is driven by an inadequate education system.

“This is a golden opportunity to really recognize that we can’t continue to be a growing, dynamic city if our school systems are operating separate and apart,” Turner said. “Not all of it has to do with dollars and cents. Some of it is just making sure that one entity is not doing something that works adversely against the other. It doesn’t make any sense to be closing community neighborhood schools if the city is looking at revitalizing those communities.”

Such a disconnect cropped up in 2014, when the city sought a federal grant to help fund a multimillion-dollar makeover of Cleme Manor Apartments in the Fifth Ward, even as school district officials were weighing whether to close adjacent the N.Q. Henderson Elementary, which drew half of its student body from the low-income apartment complex. The school remains open.

“We’ve got to work together. The hot spots for illegal dumping, high crime, it’s no fluke they’re in poor neighborhoods,” said District B Councilman Jerry Davis, who was involved in the discussions over Henderson Elementary. “Some people are saying, ‘We don’t have a role in education.’ You’re wrong. We pay a little on the front end or we pay a lot on the back end, and that’s through incarceration, through subsidized programs and things like that. This education czar can help connect the dots.”

For example, Davis said, if the city lacks a library in an area where HISD is rebuilding, why should the school not be built larger so the city could rent library space there, or provide the librarians? Better coordination, he said, also could have prevented what happened at Bruce Elementary, where HISD rebuilt the school and added a covered outdoor basketball court across the fence from a covered basketball court at city-owned Swiney Park.

“What I’ve noticed serving on the school board for a number of years is there are many good-intentioned programs that exist, but they exist in silos. We need to build bridges so we don’t replicate programs,” Stipeche said. “There is no more important means of testing the indication of the future fiscal and social well-being of a community than evaluating the education level of the community.”

Ceiling on effectiveness

One particular area of coordination will be President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” program, aimed at turning around the lives of millions of disadvantaged boys and young men, particularly those of color.

At least 35 community partners have engaged with the program since its local launch last year, Stipeche said, examining efforts ranging from preschool initiatives to workforce programs.

Bob Sanborn, CEO of the nonprofit Children At Risk, praised Turner’s decision and the choice of Stipeche, who he said is smart, understands public education and, as a Latina, represents the largest segment of Houston youths.

“When parents think about our city, they often mistakenly think the schools are part of the city. But the fact of the matter is that schools make up an important part of the life of families, and for the mayor to at least look to collaborate with the school district is a step in the right direction,” Sanborn said.

Still, he said, there will be a ceiling on Stipeche’s effectiveness.

“You’re going to have a school board and you’re likely to have a superintendent who are going to listen to each other rather than a mayor and an advisor to the mayor,” he said. “You hear this many times from school officials: ‘We don’t report to the mayor.’ That’s not the system we have in Texas. Maybe we should have that system, but that’s not what we have.”

Councilman Mike Knox said he was not questioning Stipeche’s qualifications, but worried about the cost she and any subordinates will have on the tight city budget.

“I appreciate the mayor having the ability to decide what he does with his own budget, but in these economic times, I’d have liked to have seen him advise the city council that he was thinking about doing this or spending this kind of money before it was a done deal and before it was a public announcement,” he said.

Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers union, said he was hopeful the appointment would result in greater cooperation between the city and the school district. The union strongly backed Stipeche in her unsuccessful re-election campaign to the school board last fall.

“We’re kind of sick and tired of the silos and the fiefdoms,” said Capo, who also serves on the board of Houston Community College. “We’ve got to find a way to work together.”

Critic of Grier

Stipeche, a lawyer who grew up in the East End and was valedictorian of HISD’s High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, had transitioned from her law firm in recent years to take a job at her alma mater, Rice University, at the school’s Richard Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity. The center focuses on increasing minority participation in math and science fields.

On the school board, she was a strong critic of outgoing Superintendent Terry Grier, led the school board’s audit committee and backed a nondiscrimination policy for the district.

She will earn $89,000 in the new role, which she began formally on Feb. 1.

Staff writer Ericka Mellon contributed to this story.

I wonder if Morris or Mellon reached out to HISD Trustee Diana Davila to comment for this story. Davila defeated Stipeche pretty handily last November.

I certainly don’t want to tell Stipeche how to do her job but she should first check why is there inequality of city services around neighborhoods surrounding schools. Seems like the neighborhoods surrounding the good schools are getting better love from the city than the neighborhoods surrounding the struggling schools.

I watched the debate last night and both candidates did what they had to do and I don’t have a problem with that.

Madison Bumgarner of the Giants of course had five dingers and nine RBIs last season

There are six weekday non-holiday day games at The Yard this season.


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