Trustees on the HISD School Board are responsible for governing the largest school district in Texas, in the most diverse city in the country. If elected, I will use my office to develop that diversity into a great advantage. We have spent tremendous time, effort, and money looking outside our boundaries for what works in other places. It’s time to look within and release the untapped strength of our students, families, teachers, schools, and communities to revolutionize urban education in Houston, not merely reform it.
The community schools model requires a shift in our mindset. We have to believe that in order to put kids first, we have to value the unique and rich identities of our children and our neighborhoods. We have to recognize that building relationships between a community and its school ensures their growth and sustainability. If elected, I will ensure that HISD seeks input from parents, students, and teachers who already live and work in these neighborhoods. Every school has dedicated stakeholders who have valuable insight into the strengths and needs of their communities.
In January 2016, the board voted to increase the amount vendors could donate to campaigns before trustees have to recuse themselves from a vote. I believe this was a step in the wrong direction for a board who has a troubled history with vendor influence. In fact, I feel so strongly about this issue that I have pledged not to accept any donations from those who do business or seek to do business with HISD. I want to ensure that my community never has reason to question where my loyalty lies-with them. As a trustee, I will work to strengthen ethics rules.
Investing in Quality Educators
Instead of thinking of payroll as the district’s largest expense, we need to recognize our teachers and principals as our most valuable assets. If we don’t invest in them, we stand to lose our most qualified educators. But investment means more than just competitive pay--it means relevant and worthwhile professional development and shared decision making. Many teachers dedicated to staying in the classroom also have the experience and knowhow to improve administrative matters. As a trustee, I will push for career pathways for teachers that encourage their greater input into school wide decision making while allowing them to stay immersed in the environment where students spend most of their time, the classroom.
Keeping Tax Dollars in Classrooms
HISD trustees are responsible for a $2 billion budget, yet only $1 billion of that budget goes to our classrooms. HISD has lost focus on its most important responsibility: providing a high quality classroom for every student. As trustee, I will make sure our tax dollars are working for our children first.