Houston ISD School Board Should Make New Superintendent Contract Public

Our school board is meeting today and again tomorrow in an accelerated effort to hire a new superintendent.

There are many things we cannot know about a new superintendent.

Our school board trustees have spent countless hours surveying their constituents to understand what kind of superintendent they should hire. Our trustees will spend a great deal of time interviewing candidates to determine which person will most likely fit that desired profile. But no matter how many public input sessions are held, no matter how many reference calls are made and no matter how many interviews are attended, no trustee and no voter can know for sure how a new person will perform when they become superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, a one-of-a-kind organization that is the largest school district in the State of Texas.

There is much we cannot predict about an incoming superintendent.

But no matter who is ultimately selected, there is one thing trustees can absolutely guarantee when they hire a new superintendent: 

They can guarantee how that person will be paid.

  • What will that person’s base salary be? Dr. Terry Grier’s base salary was $300,000. (see Grier’s 2009 contract)
  • What fringe benefits will that person be given?  Dr. Terry Grier received among other items: $1,200/month for a car$400/month for a phone30 days a year of vacation (which could be traded in for more pay), 5 personal days and 30 sick days a year (which could be traded in for more pay)
  • What bonuses will she or he be paid and on what criteria will he or she be judged? Dr. Terry Grier received received up to $80,000 more each yearbased on his performance judged by trustees rating him on a scale of 1 to 3 for which a rating of 2 or 3 would be high enough to receive the bonuses.

We can expect that the high pay levels associated with HISD superintendents and the goals and objectives tied to that pay will be directly related to the priorities, activities and decisions the new superintendent will set. No one is against high pay for high qualifications and high responsibilities, but we need a contract that will align the next head of the largest school district in Texas with the values of openness, respect, community and children-first. Anchoring a large part of the superintendent’s compensation to shallow goals and showering the superintendent with perks that drive up the cost of firing her or him is not what this district needs, and it is not the standard we should set for the State of Texas.

The day the school board votes to approve and the board president signs the new superintendent’s contract, all of these things will be known. This makes the superintendent’s contract more important and more predictive than any “leader profile” or past experiences at other school districts.

Traditionally, this contract is private until after it is signed.

But the public deserves more transparency. I have written before about the potential conflict of interest between the lawyers advising trustees on superintendent contracts and how those same lawyers can benefit from millions of dollars in business controlled by that same superintendent. The students, the parents, the teachers, the career educators, the taxpayers and all the stakeholders in our public education system deserve more transparency on what might be the most important decision this board makes for years to come.

If there is any legal right or tradition that offers privacy to a candidate on a contract such as this, that prospective superintendent should waive that right. Doing so would be a sign of openness and trust and a great first step at leading Houston ISD into a new season of transparency and community-based decision making.

I hope the Houston ISD School Board will make the next superintendent’s contract, once negotiated, available to the public for a minimum of two weeks and that it schedules a special session of the Board of Education to hear citizen testimony before trustees take a final vote of approval on this most important decision.

I have started a petition that dozens have already signed, and I hope the Houston ISD Board of Education will show leadership and new direction by listening.

We Will Not Perpetuate Injustice: A response to questions of opt out harm.

This morning I read a response to a friend’s editorial that was recently published by the Houston Chronicle: Why my daughter won’t take STAAR exams this year. The response’s intent was to give parents pause about following suit because our actions might unintentionally hurt our schools. We hear these concerns over and over, so I thought I’d answer them on my blog. Here are some quotes/points from the post and my responses…

If his daughter is well prepared and sure to do well on the test, yet chooses to opt out, that could negatively impact the school’s test scores. If that were to happen, important school programs (such as a Montessori magnet) could lose funding or the program itself. 

No program in Texas or anywhere else in the nation has lost funding due to parents opting out. When this was threatened very publicly last year in New York, parents redoubled their efforts and over 200k students opted out. What happened? The governor changed his stance and Congress enacted ESSA with new options for states to handle parents opting out.

Underprivileged children are, sadly, counting on the test scores of their more societally empowered classmates. This could unintentionally hurt the very students those who are concerned with the system surrounding the STAAR wish to advocate for. 

What about the underprivileged children at schools that are 100% underprivileged? Scores at other campuses from these “empowered classmates” as you describe them are being used to justify keeping kids out of art and music, keeping them in school on Saturdays and during Spring Break, keeping them from entering magnet programs, putting them in summer school or holding them back a grade. These “empowered classmates” scores are used to close neighborhood schools, fire teachers and justify the outsourcing of public education to charter and private schools. All of this, if you admit that the tests are “unjust, inhumane, and racist” are doing damage to entire people groups.

Protecting a small number in a group is not a justification to harm those groups as a whole.

But this article fails to address the negative impact “opting out” could have on the student’s school (and her less privileged classmates)

The article cannot fail to mention all the things that “could” happen. Lots of things “could” happen well beyond the ones you state.

The article does focus on all the things that ARE happening right now like first graders doing test prep, kids asking parents to stay in the second grade (happening at my campus too), kids being told by teachers that summer school is required if they fail (which is false and also happening at my campus), homework consisting only of test prep (also happening at my campus), and over-stressing teachers, parents and students (for which you concur).

Look, even if there is a small percentage chance that there are any negative consequences to opting out, you have to realize THERE IS A 100% CERTAINTY that the current negative environment will persist if we do nothing.

I fully agree that standardized testing is inherently corrupt and unnecessary. Please, fight it! Change it! But as it stands, sending your child to a public school comes with standardized tests that are tied directly to program funding and teacher reviews, and the vast majority of students have no other option but public school.

We are fighting it. We are changing it.

But no, just because a law or system is required by the state does not mean we must acquiesce and submit. Furthermore, if you know a system is unjust and you participate, you are as culpable as those that enact it.

Thomas Jefferson said, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” In this respect, history gives us many lessons from which to learn.

Yes, the system is total crap. Yes, it’s unfair, it’s racist, classist, stressful (to teachers, parents, and students alike).

We agree. All of these things alone are enough of a justification to not participate.

If we had a racist bus system; would you argue, “As it stands this is a public transportation system, the vast majority of riders don’t have any other option but public transportation, and they might lose the right to that transportation if they break its rules?”

No, you wouldn’t. And we won’t either.

We refuse to participate. And for those of us who recognize our own systemic privileges, we will not let the school district or the state use the threat of losing those unearned privileges to coerce us into being a part of the problem.

We opt out to protect our children. We opt out to protest the injustices against all children. We opt out to reclaim our schools.

We are reclaiming our schools for the professional and dedicated teachers that are best equipped to nurture our students to their greatest potential. We are reclaiming our schools for our children that need to learn not only reading, math and science but character, critical thinking, music, art, exercise and even some citizenship.

When we opt out, we are doing what’s best for our children and what’s best for our society.

My PTO Opposes Opt Out & My Response

My daughter’s (and next year son’s) school’s Parent Teacher Organization decided they needed to stay something about standardized testing (see below).

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Here is my response:

A few corrections…

  • HISD has not eliminated mandatory benchmark tests. Our campus is taking 4 snapshot and a full practice STAAR this year and many schools are doing many more.
  • HISD eliminated only one assessment and that was the Iowa — the only quality, norm-referenced test given in the district.
  • HISD changes in promotion requirements are temporary for this year and only due to delayed test results by the state; this change did not reduce the amount of standardized testing.
  • HISD reduced the weight of tests in teacher evaluations only after a lawsuit was filed; this change did not reduce the the amount of standardized testing.
  • None of these changes were made as a result of “dialogue” or “advocacy” on the part of this PTO or any other organization.

A few questions regarding the record of growth and achievement…

  • Are there more or less hours of standardized tests today at our school than 5 years ago? Answer: More.
  • Are there more or less Montessori schools in HISD than 5 years ago? Answer: Less.
  • Has our school increased or decreased in state standardized testing pass rates in Reading over the last 5 years? Answer: Decreased.

Relating to “Implement state-mandated assessments in such a way that the character of the Montessori program is not compromised.”

Here are some things teachers have said in lower and upper elementary classrooms at GOMM this past year:

  • ”Come on, people, it’s almost test season. After the break, it’s going to be real tests.” 
  • ”You are going to need to know this for the STAAR. It will be on the test. I suggest you listen.” 
  • ”You guys, you have to get 60% or better on these STAAR tests or else you’ll go to summer school or repeat [your] grade.”

Does this sound like a minimal or passive administration of a required assessment? No.

Our school is not immune to the pressures of high-stakes testing in our district. Our trustees are not interested in changing this culture. Our teachers and administrators are being unfairly stressed by these flawed and culturally-biased tests and our students feel the impact. Opting out is a way for parents to reclaim our classrooms for the good of our students and on behalf of the talented and dedicated professionals our Montessori campus is blessed to have.

The role of a PTO is to bring parents together and engage them with the school—to make the school the best it can be. Over 20 schools last year had students opting out, but GOMM’s PTO has the only Executive Board that feels compelled to take a “position” on opting out. Why? Isn’t there room for all parents to advocate for their children in the way they feel is best for them? I think so.

Maria Montessori said that “Before elaborating any system of education, we must therefore create a favorable environment that will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts. All that is needed is to remove the obstacles.”

 

HISD Intimidation or Incompetence?

STAAR season is upon us and the fact that Houston ISD is the most aggressive testing district in the state is in full view.

The Opt Out for Justice movement is growing in Houston. Two years ago there was one HISD parent who successfully opted their child out of STAAR, and last year that number grew to 80 students districtwide. Today, weeks ahead of this year’s first STAAR testing dates, we have hundreds of parents planning (with thousands considering) to use opt out to help win back our classrooms for teachers and students.

But Houston ISD officials are not interested in helping—not interested in respecting parental rights and now, as it appears, not even respecting their own school board’s policies and directives.

Remember that Houston ISD Board of Trustees specifically passed two policies this past year related to STAAR. The first was in November when the school board voted 7:1 to amend its local testing policy to include and entire section titled “Opt Out Implications.”

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The second was in December when the school board unanimously approved suspending the use of STAAR as a promotion standard for any grade other than 5th and 8th—the only two grades state law requires.

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But, just this week alone, our network of Opt Out for Justice parents saw no fewer than three communications from elementary principals communicating incorrect information about STAAR including two emails to parents explicitly intimidating them with the threat of illegal summer school.

The first example is HISD’s web page on Student Requirements and Promotion Standards indicating that passing STAAR is required in the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th grades

which is FALSE.

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The second example is HISD’s “STAAR FAQs” sheet that is often sent to parents in printed form and is also on the district website. Again, this document states, “Passing STAAR is one of the HISD promotion requirements for students in grades 3 through 8”

— which is FALSE.

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The third example is a page on HISD’s website with more STAAR FAQs where under the question “Can I ‘opt-out’ of STAAR assessments?”, The district’s answer completely ignores the new board policy that created a process for a parent to communicate intent to opt out as well as directed that no negative consequences to students result from that parental decision.

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How can there be no way to opt out while the district has a policy explaining to parents how and what will happen if they do?

Finally, when misinformation is pervasive in an organization and when it’s combined with the high pressure that comes with keeping your job or getting your bonus based on just one test, this happens…

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This example is just one of the examples received from this principal—others were more egregious but I have yet to receive permission to share.

Although this principal is unaware of the correct promotion standards for his/her students (this message went to an elementary parent of a student in a grade lower than 5th), amazingly s/he is aware of when STAAR results are expected back from the state late. With that knowledge s/he has taken it upon him/herself to tell all parents in that grade they should plan to have their children attend summer school until scores are returned at which time they may leave summer school if they passed or would have to stay if they did not. The number of errors in this statement are astonishing.

  1. STAAR isn’t a promotion standard for the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th grades.
  2. If someone is being retained, a Grade Placement Committee (GPC) must be formed to determine whether summer school or some other intervention is required.
  3. Finally, since STAAR isn’t a promotion standard in these grades, no child failing the STAAR would be required to be retained, required to have a GPC or required to attend summer school much less be forced to stay after being sent there illegally in the first place.

Most principals are trying to do what is right for their students and usually go out of their way to collaborate with their campus parents. However, HISD is putting them in a poor position by

  1. not communicating the latest official policies and
  2. providing them incorrect support documents to share with parents. This leaves everyone confused.

Worse yet, in the hands of less supportive principals—those that are themselves intimidated by STAAR pressures—parents can be left scared and angry with valuable relationships key to student success destroyed.

SO I ASK:

Are three different district documents combined with principals “confused” about promotion standards and summer school policies a pattern that show intent to intimidate parents?

Or if not—if this is merely a mistake—does it show broad incompetence in district communications and the leadership over principals?

“The Office of the Chief Communications Officer exists to inform and engage stakeholders; support schools and departments; and build partnerships to increase transparency, support, and confidence in HISD.”

For this purpose the Communications Department has an annual budget of $2,241,716. One would think for that kind of money—which is not going into the classroom—stakeholders should expect web pages and parent flyers to be updated faster than four months after policy changes.

The Schools Office which is made up the management layers between principals and the superintendent—School Support Officers (SSOs) and Chief School Officers (CSOs) as they’re known—is focused on the accountability system and making sure that principals and teachers are data-driven. This office’s annual budget (made up almost exclusively of salaries) is $8,559,791. 

Again, for these kind of management dollars spent outside the classroom, we should expect that policies as important as board testing rules (which are effectively law) are communicated quickly and effectively to the principals and teachers that make up the front lines of communication to parents and the execution of education in our schools.

In conclusion, I hope our trustees take note of these issues. We elect them to set these policies and to hire a superintendent that can execute them effectively. They should demand that this happen.

Furthermore, when parents and principals are told that the state is taking more of our district’s money (recapture) and that we must rob our principals of their campus and classroom budgets (PUA), let’s remember that in just two departments at the central office there is over $10,000,000 being spent outside the classroom—on PR and middle management. And as it relates to STAAR—the end all be all metric of success for this district, those dollars are either being completely wasted—or used for objectives not intended by the board.

WE DESERVE BETTER.

Let’s take back our schools and return them to great teachers and principals—the professionals who know and love our kids and are highly trained and skilled to educate our society’s future.

If we don’t have enough of them, let’s use our money to get more of them.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Until the district changes its priorities, you can rob them of the data they so desperately want in order to teacher-proof our classrooms. Rob them of the data that they use to justify closing neighborhood schools and giving more money to special students in special places. Rob them of participating in a discriminatory test for which the state pays billions to for-profit companies to administer with no evidence that they help improve schools.

We aren’t opting out because we’re against something—we’re opting out because we’re FOR justice in our education system. 

Learn more about Opt Out for Justice here, here and here. Then come to a house meeting to learn more and band together with like-minded advocates.

Let’s get going.

Why My Houston School Board Trustee is Voting for Discrimination

In a meeting with constituents and district staff yesterday, my District I trustee, Anna Eastman, admitted suspensions in Houston ISD were discriminatory.

During a review of tonight’s board meeting agenda and what her position on major votes would be, Ms. Eastman communicated her intention to support the new discipline policy as it was amended by Harvin Moore (without the suspension ban). You can read more about the original policy, why suspensions are negative regardless of discrimination, and the out of touch reversal that occurred during its first reading last month here.

In response, I asked Ms. Eastman two questions regarding her support, and I thought it would be important for those in the community that don’t have the opportunity to come to such meetings to be afforded her thoughts on the issue.

I asked…

Well, right off the bat Ms. Eastman replied, “It is discriminatory!”

She went on to state, “Having a policy that says we discourage suspensions but where it is still allowed, in and of itself, won’t change things.”

So I asked, why vote for it then?

Ms. Eastman answered, “Coming along with that is repurposing 2.5 million dollars of the budget to provide schools with resources they need around how to better manage in crisis and not use suspension as a reactionary tool and educate teachers and staff and repurpose our psychological services to be proactive rather than reactive.”

Continuing, she said, “Never is policy alone going to change behavior.”

I couldn’t believe what I had heard.

I couldn’t believe that my trustee, recognizing that a particular punishment in her district is used in a discriminatory manner, would let it continue even one day more. Is this the kind of system we want? A school system that tolerates racial discrimination because it doesn’t have anything better?

Or worse yet, my trustee believes that if she were to be a part of a board that passed a ban on a particular punishment, that it wouldn’t matter—that board policy is not enough to gain adoption by faculty and staff. What’s wrong with this picture? Does the board not have control of its superintendent or does the superintendent not have control of his principals? I think neither—I think its a convenient excuse for inaction. Effectively saying “It’s not me.”

Finally, Ms. Eastman’s only concrete reason for supporting the policy without the ban is that the policy changes come with a reallocation of dollars for needed services. To this I’d say two things:

  • As Ms. Eastman knows and has stated, policy doesn’t create or manage funding. If the board thought the movement of that funding was important, they could do this at any time. This leads me to…
  • Where was this funding during budget season? More over, where is the money coming from? We constantly hear how strapped the district is for resources, where did they find 2.5 million dollars all of a sudden? And, while we’re add it, what is her response to the professionals that have testified that said funding is not nearly enough to accomplish its goals of supporting these children and their teachers.

But, wait. They haven’t found the money. They’re actually just saying they will find it next year—while not having to actually pass it today.

I think that’s called passing the buck.

I’m so sad to be a constituent and a parent of a school district led by thinking and actions such as these. A bit mad. But mostly sad.

Sad, indeed.

How Houston ISD Policymaking Really Works… A story of trustee indifference & an academic chief putting PR first, students second.

Problem.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work…

We each elect our respective school board trustees based on who we think share our values on education. Those trustees come together as a board of education to set the direction for the district in the form of three major outputs:

  • Policy — directing outcomes the trustees expect from the schools (curriculum, discipline, nutrition athletics, etc);
  • Budget — funding the programs needed to execute those policies;
  • Superintendent — hired and managed to execute those policies and monies and report progress back to the board.

The superintendent hires a staff and faculty to carryout these programs and creates “administrative regulation” which is the manner in which she or he puts district policies and programs into action.

And round and round the cycle goes—trustees recognizing needs from constituents, leveraging the skills and passions we elected them for, and setting the course for the district and monitoring its progress.

Unfortunately, it usually works like this…

The board meets each month to react. They react to controversies. They react to personnel issues. They react to scandal. They react to budget shortfalls. They react to campus overcrowding, and they react to new state or federal laws. In their effort to react quickly, they look to the professionals to tell them what to do. They have the superintendent and his or her staff, consultants and external lawyers. All of these resources flow through the administration and each month that administration brings policy drafts and budget/expenditure requests to the board. This leaves the board to ask a handful of questions at a couple of meetings a month before they dutifully approve for the policies recommended by the administration.

Where’s the vision? Where’s the leadership we elected them for?

Example.

Let’s put this in the context of a real life example that leads up to a policy the board will vote on tonight.

Last year, during the spring administration of the STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness), many Houston parents joined a national movement to opt their children out of being tested. These parents based their decisions on a myriad of concerns including:

Over 70 students in Houston joined the hundreds of thousands around the country, said “No more!” and opted out of the STAAR. This raised awareness both locally and nationally. Just this summer, policies were changed in HISD to give campuses more autonomy on benchmark or practice tests, and in Austin and Washington, political leaders are taking a serious look at the snowball of testing created by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

However, something else happened last year. Houston ISD administrators were caught off guard by parent participation in the movement and fumbled its response. Several rounds of misinformation and campus-level intimidation ensued, and then, embarrassed by the missteps, the administration and trustees were forced to “educate” their constituents with corrected information and made promises of fixing misunderstandings next year.

As usual, trustees were not proactive in addressing parental concerns and waited for the administration to determine if new policy was necessary. To our dismay, but not our surprise, administration brought forward a policy that was neither student-centered or respectful of parental rights.

Frankly, calling what they did bring forward a “policy” is somewhat of a stretch. The mere seven-sentence insert, titled Opt-Out Implications, to HISD’s larger Testing Programs policy is a handful of directives usually relegated to those “administrative regulations” that I mentioned before.

Here is the language that was presented to the board upon first reading in September and some immediate questions that come to mind…

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Though this seven-sentence policy doesn’t actually change anything tangible for parents or students who choose to opt out, it does give the administration a tool to bully parents who are considering opting out and presents a singular opinion that all campuses must put forward with respect to opting out regardless of wide ranging support the opt out movement has among teachers and principals.

Public Relations First.

After the policy’s first reading and an outcry from parents and teachers, Dr. Andrew Houlihan, Houston ISD’s Chief Academic Offer, offered to meet with concerned parents to get their input. We thought he met with us in good faith. We even drafted reasonable requests for a broader, more proactive policy that clearly outlines expectations for student welfare when a parent exercises their opt-out rights.

Here are our letters to Dr. Houlihan before and after our meeting as well as his response.

Unfortunately, good faith is the last thing we appear to have been given.

While we awaited his consideration and response, training for campus test administrators was already underway. The below draft opt-out form and the text of the yet-to-be-approved board policy are already being included in this training.

assessment refusal form

Even if presented to faculty and staff as “draft,” the fact that we weren’t afforded the same visibility into these drafts during our meeting to provide input as well as the false commitment made in that meeting that our concerns would be taken into consideration when creating said drafts and training illustrate that our questions and concerns were meaningless—except as a token for public/board relations.

Real Policy.

So, if trustees found themselves concerned, wanted to lead on this issue and were interested in addressing parental concerns, what would a good opt out policy look like?

First—it would protect students and their learning environment. In opting out, parents are communicating a point to district administrators and state and national leaders. We can all agree that the children shouldn’t be put in the middle of disagreements among adults. If parents could be assured that their kids wouldn’t be coerced into taking tests if they show up on test days, parents would prefer to have them in school and getting alternative instruction for the day. And educators would prefer not to have kids absent and lose state attendance dollars.

Trustees should make it policy that alternative educational programing be made available to students who are present but not being assessed due to parent choice.

Second—it would protect students and their parents from bullying and intimidation by campus administrators. One of the unfortunate consequences of the high-stakes and tunnel vision on these scores is that occasionally the metrics trump the child. Last year, there were dozens of accounts of assistant principals and principals making disciplinary threats to students and parents that chose to be absent on test day.

Trustees should make it policy that no negative consequences will come to students or parents as a result of opting out, but additionally, based on past negative experiences, it should be policy that there be a dedicated place in the central administration for parents to raise urgent questions and concerns if they are feeling pressured or have experiences contradictory to this policy on test days.

Third—it would protect teachers and principals. In light of the focus HISD puts on these scores, the district should underscore with its faculty that respecting parental rights to opt out will not have a negative impact on them.

Trustees should make it policy that no performance criteria used for compensation or contract renewal decisions will include metrics that reference opt out participation or include zeros from opt out scorecards submitted to the TEA.

Challenge.

After watching the board for the past year, I have yet to see any policy that was trustee driven—and I don’t mean the text, I mean the ideas (maybe the recent authorization to hire an independent auditor for the bond program qualifies; it was certainly not the superintendent’s idea). Furthermore, 9 out of 10 times the board votes in favor of the administration’s proposals with little to no amendment.

This opt out policy is a small thing. Whether trustees agree or disagree with parents about the usefulness of STAAR, surely we all agree that parents should expect that they and their children will be treated with respect at all times.

So I ask:

Will the board take up these reasonable parent concerns? Will it direct the administration with new policy and expectations?

Or will this be another policy in a long line of policies that the administration directs the board to approve?

We shall see tonight.

Fight Corporate Education Reform by Taking Back One of the Districts that Put It on the Map

Today, after listening at an unparalleled candidate forum, Sarah and I donated to two different Houston ISD trustee campaigns (Ms. Juliet Stipeche, Dr. Ann McCoy), and we encourage you to do the same.

Our own trustee seat isn’t up for election this year and maybe you’re one of our countless friends afar who don’t have anything to do with Houston or Houston ISD, but this November’s election isn’t just about our own representatives, it’s about a once-in-a-decade opportunity to influence who is put in charge of Texas’ largest school district — 29,000 employees, 215,000 students, 285 schools with a $1.7 billion operating budget. With four of nine seats on a single school board up for election, there is a singular opportunity here to change the tide of education reform in Texas and weigh in on a national movement. And these four elections will be won or lost on budgets of just tens of thousands of dollars — not the hundreds of millions for state and national races.

Imagine what we could do with the right team of trustees willing to act in the fourth largest school district in the country — with those that have a vision for comprehensive neighborhood schools for every child, with those that have such a respect for the profession of teaching that they know it can’t be reduced to a simple equation, with those that have the critical thinking to not only approve policy but to create it, and with those who have the fortitude to see our campuses rebuilt from the ground up for the next century of students. With trustees like this, Houston ISD could be the urban school district that leads the nation back from the depths of corporate education reform and from the brink of privatizing of our public schools.

All politics is local. If you’re passionate about children and the fact that quality education is at the heart of reforming every other part of our society, then consider getting involved in this particular local election. Your vote, your voice, your volunteerism and your very impactful dollars can matter here. Get involved, and if you can, tangibly back these candidates that we believe will make a difference.