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Slogans or Substance? Listen to the teachers to gain insight to solving HISD's problems.

This is the first in a series of blogs explaining how I will make a difference if elected to the HISD school board. Anyone can come up with slogans. Anyone can come up with ideas they want to implement. What distinguishes one candidate from each other is how well do the candidates know the issues, and how can they actually accomplish the promises the make. The students of Houston need someone who has substance, not someone who simply engages in sloganeering.

The problems at HISD are well known. The special education department is in conservatorship status. The Texas Education Agency is actively involved in litigation to dissolve the Board of Trustees (the formal name for the school board) and take over the district. The district has run a budget deficit for the past 5 years. Sixty per cent of the students do not read appropriately. I will post about all these and concrete, actionable, plans on how to address the issues in the future. This post, though, focuses on the teachers and how they can be a part of the solution.

My mother is a retired teacher. My sister is a teacher. Aunts on both sides of the family are active and/or retired teachers. My childhood neighbor's mother is a retired teacher. I've been around teachers in vastly different school districts all my life. Despite the difference in the districts one thing stands out - the administration doesn't always have the answers. The teachers are the ones who interact with the students on a daily basis. They are the ones who see the problems their students are having, and experience the difficulties in the classroom.

The teachers have a different insight than any other level in the schools. The assistant principals is involved with disciplinary issues and can get a feel for what issues are directed to their office. Principals can get feedback from the assistant principals and spend significant amounts of time trying to gain insight from the assistant principals interactions. The assistant superintendents can get information from the principles. However, in all of these situations information is being filtered as it goes up the chain of command.

The teachers, though, they have the day to day first hand experience with their students. They have a bigger picture insight. They are the best positioned to understand the "why" problems are occurring that no other level of the school system can match. The teachers need a better voice to be able to report what they are observing. We know what the district's problems are. We need to understand the why.

In order to empower teachers to be able to communicate what their uniquely positioned observations are, and to be able to do so without fear of repercussions, I will establish a confidential reporting system where teacher are able to give their observations and suggested solutions. This will be logged in a database by campus. Once enough information has been gathered the database will help to identify problems at a district or campus level that can be used to generate solutions.

We know what the district's problems are. We need to get a better understanding of the why. The teachers are best positioned to give us that information. That's one step to a better tomorrow for our children, and something that I will implement when elected.

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

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