HISD's Culture Needs to Change to Maximize Student Potential


This race is a race of different visions. My vision is a departure from the current board's policies that pit students against each other. One overt example of the board pitting students against each other is their stated goal of closing the achievement gap. Rather than comparing students against each other a fundamental philosophy shift to maximize student potential needs to take hold in HISD.

Each student has unique potential. The goal of the district should be to maximize that potential so the student achieves their best educational outcome. No clearer example of this could be with my twins. Kenan, my son, has a rare birth defect - an extra bone in his skull growing into his brain which has caused the brain to separate into lobes to accommodate the bone. The two pictures below show the distinctly different processing speed between the two suggesting a distinct difference in executive function in the brain. Same age, same environment, same stimulus, but Kenan's processing speed is delayed to the point his sister had finished reacting to the stimulus before he reacted. His delayed executive functioning leads to a difference in potential between the twins.



Comparing the two and their level of achievement is fundamentally unfair to Kenan because of their different potential. It sets him up for failure. The same holds true when we compare students in the district and point out the achievement gap. A philosophy change to maximize student potential serves to compare the student to themselves. As long as they are improving they are a success, and it's time the district recognizes this.

The student body is a diverse population. The special needs, general population, and gifted and talented populations all can have growth and maximize their potential. I've already written about how helping the disabled helps the district (https://www.degeyterforhisd.com/post/helping-the-disabled-helps-the-district), and enacting these measures will help the district provide extra services to the special education population.

The gifted and talented population also has fairly simple ways to help maximize potential. Community colleges are now authorized four year degrees. This creates an opportunity for both HISD and Houston Community College to engage in closer collaboration. A framework for collaboration already is in place. HCC already has a concurrent enrolment program which, "are conveniently held on the high school campus or on a nearby college campus. On the high school campus, the classes are exclusively for students attending that high school. On the college campus, students are integrated into regular college courses with regular college students." The HCC Board of Trustees has already waived tuition for this program. Expanding cooperation and the course offerings between HISD and HCC helps the gifted and talented population achieve their maximum potential, as well as reduce student loan debt the student holds when they eventually graduate college.

Expanding the concurrent enrollment program will free up personnel resources for HISD to dedicate to the general population student. With more students taking at least some classes in the concurrent enrolment programs class sizes will become smaller allowing for extra student-teacher interaction in the general population classes. Additionally, with the general population students having more interaction with the teachers some will show educational improvement allowing them to enter into the concurrent enrollment programs. Success begets success.

The students in HISD are suffering because of the board's policy goals are ones that pit the students against each other. A fundamental culture change to one of maximize student potential sets all students up for success. That's my vision, a school district where every student is judged against themselves and success is individual improvement. When elected trustee, I will promote policies that bring the district to where all students are empowered and positioned for success.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support.
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