One of the big questions that looms over the potential state intervention in the governance structure of Houston ISD is, “What will change under a Board of Managers?” While this is a question that none of us – not even the TEA Commissioner – can answer with complete certainty, it is still worth considering. Now, more than ever, our community needs to consider the things that can and should change in the state’s largest school district.
Among the cries of those who resist intervention from the state, there have been few if any calls for major change on behalf of underserved children. Rather than rallying around vague political ideals, we should be demanding innovative solutions and meaningful changes to a status quo that has utterly failed far too many students for decades.
Beyond the very low-hanging fruit of asking for a functional governing body, one that is committed to fostering communication and collaboration among its members, we need to start thinking about the ways that our school district can bring about transformational change in the lives of children. For too long, Houston ISD has struggled to properly identify, place, support, and compensate its most effective teachers and school leaders. This needs to change. Like many school districts across the country, HISD still has not deployed adequate resources to promote pre-K enrollment and establish a solid educational foundation for children and families. This needs to change. Until the external performance audit last year, many of the structures and programs in the district have operated inefficiently and without much oversight. This needs to change. These are just a few of the issues that should be considered, evaluated, and re-evaluated by the incoming board.
As the saying goes, “nothing changes if nothing changes.” Improvement in student outcomes will only come with improvement in the decisions and actions of the adults who run this school district, whether they are elected or appointed. Will there be major changes under a Board of Managers? We can only hope the answer is yes.