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Archive for November 29th, 2017

George Harrison left us 16 years ago today.

There is no MLB question today.

Early Voting in the HISD and HCC runoffs begins today.

The Chron E-Board endorsed Gretchen Himsl for HISD Trustee, District 1. Well deserved. A very nice write-up. Here it is:

Houston ISD, trustee, District I: Gretchen Himsl

Houston Independent School District, the seventh-largest public school system in the nation and the largest in Texas, is at a crossroads. The school district is facing a takeover by the state for failure to improve about a dozen schools. This drastic step would mean that Houston voters would lose the right to elect officials to govern the school system, which educates 216,000 of our children, and for which we pay local property taxes. The district also faced a budgetary shortfall even before Hurricane Harvey cut a path of destruction across the district and damaged many of its schools.

These are hard issues, and voters need to elect the candidate best qualified to deal with the complexity.

Two candidates are in a runoff for trustee of District I, a position that was ably held by Anna Eastman for eight years: Elizabeth Santos, a schoolteacher, and Gretchen Himsl, who works at Children At Risk, a Houston nonprofit.

Both have demonstrated a commitment to students through their actions for many years, Santos in the classroom and Himsl in the policymaking and volunteer world. Both women care deeply about public education.

The two candidates also agree on several policy points, including the need to rein in high-stakes testing.

But the similarities stop there. The two candidates bring markedly different skill sets to the table. Himsl is a policy wonk and volunteer. Santos is a passionate educator and advocate.

At a time when the future of the entire district has been brought into question, voters should pick someone with the skills to analyze and articulate the policies that can save HISD – and the ability to implement them as solutions. That candidate is Gretchen Himsl.

This is the sort of race that makes us wish the HISD board was a mix of at-large and district board members. Himsl offers a top-down policy expertise that HISD needs now, but Santos possess an informed, on-the-ground perspective of a woman who speaks to the soul of our schools. Her insight as a teacher gives her the ability to cut straight to the problems of how board policies impact and often disrupt the classroom. As she told the editorial board, you don’t need a standardized test to tell you that a classroom with 40 students is going to do worse than classroom with 20 students. Santos embodies the next generation of Houston leadership and would be a fine representative for District I.

However, as HISD wrangles with the Texas Education Agency, we have to think about a picture bigger than a single district. The entire system needs someone who understands policy and process from top to bottom. That’s where Himsl shines.

She spent years working as a staff member on the House Appropriations Committee in Austin and analyzes education policy in her job at Children At Risk. She’s supplemented this knowledge by enrolling as a fellow in the first class of Leadership ISD, a nonprofit, devoted to developing and connecting leaders, lead strategically and champion change in the public school system. Himsl, 46, also holds a master’s degree from the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Policy.

But there’s more than résumé to Himsl. She has the practical, on-the-ground experience of a former PTA president and can rattle off issues facing individual schools. She speaks in specific and actionable options for ameliorating cumbersome yet mandatory standardized tests. In the heat of the debate, she offers a calm pillar of knowledge.

“I’ve been doing public policy for 20 years now and so I have experience with going deep in knotty problems, and that’s what HISD is facing right now, which is complicated, long-term problems.” Himsl told the editorial board, and that’s probably the best summary of why voters should select her.

District I covers inner Loop and north Houston neighborhoods including Garden Oaks, the Heights and Near Northside.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/recommendations/article/Endorsements-for-HCC-and-HISD-runoffs-12390401.php.

Gretchen certainly knows public education policy.

FYI: Gretchen is Commentary’s client.

Go vote early, please.

Andrew White is probably going to run for governor in the Dem Primary. I don’t know of a single Dem who is supporting White. Of course, I don’t know of a single Dem who is supporting anyone for governor in the Dem Party primary.

Yesterday, I spent over three quarters of the working day taking my Dad to a medical appointment. It is always a trip dealing with my Dad on these excursions. It is what you do when he is 94 years of age.

I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but Opening Day is four months from today when we open on the road in Arlington.

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