A Transparency Movement…Let’s get started!
The Dali Lama once said a lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity. When I think about education the words community, team, and collaboration come to mind. However, in order to build a community, or a team where individuals come together to collaborate and share ideas, transparency must be present. As not only a community member, parent, and educator of Houston ISD, I am a stakeholder with a vision of transparency for our district from the top down. Our students deserve to receive a well-rounded education which begins with transparency.
In the past, HISD has lacked this main component. Promises have been made and have not been followed through on, there is a continuous lack of communication with students, parents, the community, and educators about everything from contracts, budget, testing, and the list goes on. Many effective HISD educators have left to go to other districts causing a high teacher turnover and this is due to the lack of transparency. We then spend money recruiting anybody who wants to be a teacher in order to have a body in the classroom and we sit back and question why we have low test scores. This needs to change. For example, as a recruited teacher out of North Carolina, many promises were made to entice me to relocate to Houston and teach in HISD. Slowly after I began my first school year in the district I realized the promises made to myself and my family were not all fulfilled. Starting with the relocation stipend I was promised that I then had to wait to receive in my first paycheck almost a month after relocating…taxed of course. I was told I wouldn’t have to take a certification exam as North Carolina and Texas were reciprocal states and my certification would transfer. In December however, I learned that I had until the end of April to take and pass the exam in order to continue teaching. As months went on, I watched money being misspent and a lack of transparency from the district office as to where money was going. This practice trickles down into the schools causing a mistrust through each individual school. I have watched several effective teachers leave due to this mistrust and insecurity and in their place we have ineffective teachers who lack the experience to teach in our schools.
A transparent leader will bring a sense of trust and security within our district. Effective teachers will want to stay in the district because they understand what decisions are being made and why they are being made and because they are heard as a collaborative member of the HISD team. Community members will become more involved in our schools allowing our students to experience more. This buy-in will continue with parents as they feel they can trust HISD schools to prepare their student for the global community. Transparency can create a shift in school culture towards a more collaborative environment where all stakeholders have buy-in on decisions that are made for the district. Transparency is communicating with all stakeholders about why decisions are made for the district. I encourage our new superintendent to be at the forefront of a transparency movement which will trickle down to our schools allowing a more collaborative environment which will only benefit our students as we work together to educate and prepare the next generation.
I look forward to the 2016–2017 school year. I am excited about this year for many reasons. With a new school year brings the possibility of new success. I look to each new school year as a fresh start, a new beginning. As HISD brings on a new superintendent, I am excited about having a transparent leader to guide our district toward success and educate our future as a collaborative team. Let’s get started!