Archive for December 6th, 2018

Not Sold

Commentary is not sold on this. Right now, I don’t think it is a good idea. Check this from the Chron:

The city of Houston’s education czar and three well-connected, civically engaged residents plan in the coming weeks to seek control of some long-struggling Houston ISD schools in a bid to improve academic outcomes and help the district stave off major state sanctions tied to chronically low performance at the campuses.

State business records show Juliet Stipeche, the director of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office of Education Initiatives, and the three board members have formed the Coalition for Educational Excellence and Equity in Houston, a nonprofit that could partner with HISD to take over campuses under a state law encouraging charter agreements between school districts and private organizations.

If an agreement with HISD were struck, the nonprofit envisions assuming control of academics, finances and governance at an undetermined number of schools. The portfolio likely would include four campuses in danger of triggering sanctions — either forced campus closures or a state takeover of HISD’s locally elected school board — if any one of them fails to meet state academic standards in 2019. In exchange, the state would provide an additional $1,800 per student in funding to the nonprofit, and it would grant HISD a two-year reprieve from sanctions if it surrendered control of the four campuses.

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and school board members have shown little enthusiasm for such arrangements to date, but they have not precluded the possibility ahead of a state-imposed deadline in early February 2019 to submit any agreements. The arrangements are intended to be temporary, with control over the campuses returned to a school district after a contractually agreed-upon period.

Stipeche, who served as an HISD trustee from 2010 to 2015, said the coalition will seek to engage other local civic organizations in providing resources to students who attend schools that often fail to meet state academic standards. The coalition has not yet solidified its educational framework or crafted a proposal for public viewing, Stipeche said.

“We envision working through a collective-impact approach to lock arms with the community, to reimagine what we can do to support our schools as centers of excellence, equity and innovation,” Stipeche said. “We are working on finalizing an overview of what we would like to present to the board for their consideration in terms of how we work, what our core values and vision are, and what our building blocks of success are.”

The coalition includes three founding board members: Trinidad “Trini” Mendenhall, the co-founder of the grocery chain Fiesta Mart and president of the real estate investment firm Fulton Shopping Center; Stephanie Nellons-Paige, the vice president of external affairs for Texas Central Railway and wife of former HISD superintendent Rod Paige; and Corbin Robertson Jr., CEO and chairman of the mining company Natural Resources Partners.

And this:

Mendenhall, Nellons-Paige and Robertson each have deep roots in Houston, with lengthy track records of civic activism that make them well-positioned to raise outside funds for the initiative. Mendenhall and Robertson, in particular, boast extensive management and nonprofit governance experience.

The well-heeled group, however, has few personal ties to the largely impoverished neighborhoods under consideration for partnerships. None of its members have been educators. The fast-approaching February 2019 deadline also gives the coalition little time to build trust in its vision.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/Civic-group-including-mayor-s-ed-czar-may-13446066.php.

When I think of the functions of city government, I think public safety, garbage pick-up, and street repairs. I don’t think fixing up the schools. Plus, now the City of H-Town is in a huge wrestling match with Firefighters, I don’t see how they can add taking on this issue. We elect school board trustees and they select a superintendent to figure out fixing our schools. I prefer that the trustees take the lead on this rather than an untested idea with no track record and experience. That’s my take.

We are getting another football team for those who care.

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