Increase student achievement. We need more quality seats for students.
The bottom line is, HISD needs more high performing schools. Every year Children at Risk evaluates our schools assigning an A-F ranking. Some HISD schools, such as River Oaks Elementary in District 7, have 30 applicants for each seat, which is determined by lottery. We can answer this demand for more quality seats by:
- Making sure we have strong principal leadership in every school.
- The principal needs to be empowered as a CEO to make budgeting decisions that best meet the needs of the families in that school. HISD is a huge district with 283 schools and a cookie-cutter, top down approach will not work. We must empower principals, teachers, and school communities and hold them accountable for their results including parent satisfaction and enrollment in the school.
- HISD must get more money to the school level where the children are and out of the central office. No matter how good the idea seems in the central office, our schools are not all alike. Furthermore, unless there is buy-in and fidelity of implementation, it will not work.
- Competition is key to raising the standards as well as outcomes of student achievement—the relationship that HISD has with our high performing charter schools will serve to add best practices to both the charters and HISD.
- HISD should partner with high performing charter schools, like Spring Branch and Aldine ISDs do in the Houston area and a host of other districts do around the country.
Recruit, retain, and reward our quality teachers and principals.
The ability to set high standards for teacher and principal performance and link that performance to monetary rewards for all schools will put HISD in a much better position to retain them and effectively measure accountability – which directly ties to student achievement. We should also provide incentives for the highest performing principals to take on the most difficult schools.
Balance our HISD budget.
This is a huge issue. We need to get our finances under control. The board approved a budget deficit of $107 million instead of making hard choices. Those choices need to be made now. The $107 million they took from the “Rainy Day” fund cannot be replaced anytime soon, and we cannot go back to that well for the 2018-19 school year.