Written by: Reagan Flowers, PhD
With the newly released 2019 Texas Education Agency (TEA) accountability rating, it is clear that replacing the HISD board is not the best course of action at this point. The TEA ratings revealed that three of the four schools, which were poised to trigger closure of the individual schools or a takeover of the board, made sufficient progress leaving Wheatley High School as the only one of that group that did not achieve enough progress, though improvements were made in certain areas.
Under the leadership of Superintendent Grenita Lathan, the Houston Independent School District achieved an overall ‘B’ (88 point) on the latest TEA accountability rating for the 2018-19 school year, affirming that the school district is performing well overall. It is also important to note that in a report published by Niche earlier this week, three HISD schools topped out the list of the top 25 high schools in the Houston area for 2020. These are critically important factors to be considered before a final verdict is reached by TEA.
Another important factor to consider is, a large part of the problem the District has faced has been the inability of the current board of trustees’ to work together, and the voters will have an opportunity this November to elect/replace 4 of the 9 members of the HISD board, with two members already having announced they are not seeking reelection. If anything, TEA should wait till after the elections to make any final determination regarding board governance of HISD going forward.
If the decision reached by TEA is to replace the board, then a more reasonable approach would be to allow any newly elected trustees, who have not previously served on the HISD board, to represent their district on the interim board of managers. This will ensure the voice of the citizens continues to be represented on the board, and that the blended board can more effectively transition back at the end of the designated interim governance period. There remains a lot of work to be done to take HISD to a higher level, and making the right decisions at this juncture is critical to ensuring the long-term stability and progress of HISD.