Ratings for the Meeting on December 13th
Last Thursday evening marked yet another loss for the children of Houston ISD. Not only did the school board spend 0% of their time talking about student outcome goals, a 5-4 vote also closed the door on an open process to pursue potential partnerships under state senate bill 1882. Although it is still possible that the district could attempt to enter into partnerships before the February 4th deadline, none of these partnerships would go through a rigorous vetting process and would likely feel as rushed as the attempt made at the now infamous April, 2018, meeting.
It is worth noting that a group of about 25 concerned citizens came to speak against potential partnerships and spent most of the meeting undermining the deliberative process. Many of them focused on political rhetoric by mischaracterizing the intent of the agenda item, and any person – including other parents and community members – who disagreed was shouted down.
While those who attend school board meetings – no matter what opinions they have – are an important part of the ecosystem, they still cannot claim to represent all district parents and stakeholders. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of the 25 speakers either send their children to high-performing district schools or have no children in HISD. Sadly, the board appeared unable to foster meaningful dialogue, and several trustees used this as an opportunity to score political points by disparaging one another. A lack of leadership and focus impeded the democratic process and replaced public discourse with limited options and no clear way forward.
The general tone of the meeting and the fact that actual student outcomes weren’t even discussed make it incredibly difficult to differentiate among trustees this month. At the end of the meeting, we were no closer to discerning the actual needs and desires of perpetually underserved communities and no closer to offering our children something better than the status-quo.