Our new superintendent

As the summer days wind down and we prepare to go out and purchase school supplies for our children what are our expectations for the coming year? I believe all parents want their children to thrive academically, feel safe in their school environment and be given the same opportunities as children who come from more affluent sides of our great city. We learned last week that the HISD School Board has one lone applicant that they are vetting for the position of HISD School Superintendent. From the little that I have read about Mr. Carranza it appears that he has a well-rounded view of what our educational system should be, understands the importance of providing bilingual/dual language education, appreciates the arts and as a representative of the largest minority group in Houston which would hopefully give him an understanding of some of the challenges facing the Latino community.

As a parent of two young Latino boys, I have great expectations of this new superintendent that perhaps are extreme and unbelievable but hey we can dream right? I hope that this new superintendent will focus their efforts in ensuring that all schools are given their proper share of funding regardless of its zip code. I understand that this is the function of the State Legislature but I would hope that the Superintendent will find ways to work with our area PTA's to advocate for fair funding practices as we prepare for the next legislative session. I also hope that he will consider looking at our children holistically ensuring that they are taken care of mentally, physically and emotionally.

We have seen these last few school years parents deciding to keep their children home rather than subjecting them to the STAAR test. I attended public schools my entire life and never felt anxiety towards taking the TAAS test and instead felt that I was given the opportunity to learn and as a result of learning I was prepared for the exam. There was no need to send me home with packets of worksheets and multiple-choice questions, I simply learned and as a result I performed and was able to pass the exam. Today we hear of children having anxiety and teachers being held accountable to the scores that their students attain.

Providing our children with nutritional food options is one of those areas that I would like to see this Superintendent modify. We have school cafeterias but do not have staff cooking food. We instead have staff who steam and boil food that comes out of a plastic bag. I would ask that this be re-evaluated while we have moved to providing free breakfasts, have we traded the free breakfasts for an unhealthy alternative that seeps plastic into our children’s blood streams. We have already invested millions into a facility to mass produce our children’s food, does this mean we are stuck with this system forever?

Please also consider increasing the amount of recess that our children are allotted and not permit teachers to utilize recess as punishment. Studies have shown that children who are physically active see enhanced brain function and it also improves thinking and reasoning skills for children. Two last points-please support dual language programs and arts in the class rooms. My son’s school does not have music or art programs which I believe is doing all of our children a disservice.

Most importantly parents and teachers must work with our area board members and new Superintendent to make HISD the school district we want to see for all of our children. Its not enough for us to sit back and complain, we must get involved in our school’s PTA, attend Parent-Teacher Conference meetings when they are requested and schedule meetings when we notice our children falling behind. We must also take the time to help our kids with their homework and find them the support they need through our schools and 
non-profit organizations. We must find time to volunteer when possible, donate supplies to our teachers if we can, be vocal at our area school board meetings and elections so that we can have people in these positions that are fighting for all of our children. Let’s Get to Work!

Tanya is a mother of two young boys who attend HISD schools.