With the deadline closed, 462 people applied for the HISD board. Here's who wants the job. (2023)

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With the deadline closed, 462 people applied for the HISD board. Here's who wants the job. (12)

When the Texas Education Agency in June appoints a new superintendent, aand nine managers to govern theHouston Independent School District, longtime educator and mother Anita Wadhwa hopes there is someone like her on the new board.

"Sometimes on boards they don't have people on site doing the work," she said. "I just want to make sure that voice is represented — whether it's with me or someone else, it doesn't matter."

Wadhwa is among 462 people, many of them educators, HISD parents or other professionals, who applied for the board of directors by the Thursday night deadline, according to the TEA. The extended deadline yielded 88 additional entries. Still, the Hispanic population remains vastly underrepresented with just 52 candidates. Latinos make up about 62% of the student body, but 11% of the candidate pool.

MORE:First batch of HISD candidates for TEA board of directors shows Hispanics are underrepresented

"The reason for this low response was a poor recruiting process that doesn't allow for community contributions, a lack of transparency in qualifications, and a very short time window," Sergio Lira, president of the Greater HoustonLULAC Council, said in a statement. . "We feel this is a calculated process aimed at keeping the number of Latinos down."

(Video) Thursday is the last day to apply for Houston ISD’s Board of Managers

Forty people were disqualified from the process because they lived outside the district boundaries. One-third of applicants are white, nearly 40% are black and 4.5% are Asian, according to the TEA. Nearly 70% hold a master's or doctorate, including 38 people with a doctorate in education. There are many HISD faculty and staff in the mix, according to a partial list of applicants, but the TEA has said those people must resign from employment if they are selected.

The partial list of names released last week by TEA includes professionals from all walks of life: lawyers, doctors, nurses, technicians, teachers and educators. While many candidates have little name recognition, some have been thrust into the public sphere through civic leadership, past elections, and advocacy work. For example, candidates include Catherine Mincberg, who served as a trustee of HISD for over a decade, and Lawrence Allen Jr., a former member of the state board of education and the brother of a current trustee of HISD.

Some candidates with educational experience have worked outside the traditional public school environment, including Wadhwa, now a first-year assistant principal at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School. She has spent more than two decades teaching at HISD, Spring Branch ISD and YES Prep, a public charter network in Greater Houston. She wants to improve the mental health crisis among students and the morale of teachers.

"It's really brutal to be in this profession right now and we have to better support our teachers," she said.

The mother also applied for the position because she wants to set a good example for her elementary age children.

“I'm trying to raise daughters to speak up and participate whenever there's an opportunity to offer something that's good for the community,” she said.

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Another candidate is Dan Buck, a parent with HISD and administrator of the Briarwood School, a Houston private school for children with learning difficulties and disabilities. Buck said he wants to bring his unique perspective from working in private schools around the world to help improve the school district.

"I wish I could do my part," he said. "This is a way I want to give back to society."

Public and private schools may have different problems, Buck said, but they use similar tools to achieve the same goal.

"They're all trying to do the same thing," he said. "If you become a teacher, you care about children and you want to help all children succeed."

A seat on the board of directors is "a matter of listening and really understanding," Buck said.

“There are many, many wonderful things about HISD and I think those good things should remain in place and other things can improve,” he said, including communication with parents and the school's choice system.

All applicants are required to attend one of two weekend training sessions. The first session last Sunday drew a handful of demonstrators, including longtime HISD teacher Sarah Rivlin, who spoke to some candidates and waved a sign on the sidewalk outside the training building. She and others plan to meet outside of a Saturday morning training session as well.

(Video) TEA informs HISD board it will be taken over by state

"We're going there because we want to educate people that this is a TEA power grab," she said. "If we don't take control of the narrative and let people know what's going on, TEA will make this their show."

Rivlin said he fears that a focus on measurable student outcomes will lead to a joyless, militant learning environment.

"Anytime learning is based on the STAAR test, it becomes miserable," she said. "Children are miserable, teachers are miserable - nobody learns."

HISD ACQUISITION:As hundreds apply for HISD's board of managers, opponents call process 'illegitimate'

Pamela Boveland, community advocate and adjunct professor at the University of Houston, said she applied for the board of trustees because she distrusts the process and doesn't trust the TEA's intentions. She wanted "to give them the opportunity to reject me".

HISD's academic progress in recent years under new leadership "makes the whole takeover look dubious," she said. The Jack Yates High School alum said the state needs to provide more funds to chronically struggling schools rather than intervening in the district with a new form of governance.

"To me, you can't do better than the people we elected," she said. "They say we can't solve this problem by throwing money at it, but that's not true."

Karen Kossie-Chernyshev, a history professor at Texas Southern University who has applied to the board of trustees, said she understands there are concerns and questions surrounding the acquisition. However, she believes the board of directors can leverage the community's values ​​and vision for positive change.

"If we can seize the opportunity we have to reset, rethink and recalibrate - with the goal of improving student outcomes in HISD - we have to see it as an opportunity rather than a setback," she said.

BUDGET:HISD takes a break from planned campus-level budget cuts as TEA takeover approaches

Kossie-Chernyshev wants to make a contribution to HISD because she has deep roots in the community, many connections to the district, and a heart for students. The Kashmere Gardens resident began her teaching career at Bellaire High School and will see her son graduate from an online HISD school this spring. As such, she understands the perspectives of parents and teachers.

"The main focus is that I care about the students," she said. "I care about their educational experience and I understand all the different factors that affect what they learn, how they learn it and why they learn it."


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1. HISD Interim Superintendent On Reopening The Largest School District In Texas | Craig Melvin | MSNBC
2. HISD trustee-elect without a seat at the table: What's next?
(KPRC 2 Click2Houston)
3. LIVE: Texas Education Agency hosts final community meeting on HISD takeover
(KHOU 11)
4. LIVE: Texas Education Agency hosts third public meeting on Houston ISD takeover
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5. TEA hosts first meeting regarding board of managers process for Houston ISD
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6. Legislative Update, 87th Session of the Texas Legislature
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