Parker Outlines Education Accomplishments

Back in 2009, one issue that came up in the Mayoral election was the City’s involvement in our local schools. It seems folks immediately gravitate toward issues involving Houston ISD (we are the big district, no doubt), but there are a lot more school districts within the City of Houston limits, so, any talk of a candidate for Mayor wanting to take over a school district disturbs me, but up to a point–the point being that it cannot happen and voters in suburban areas wouldn’t stand for it.  But these candidates will tell you it can happen, anyway, but they aren’t being honest. Mayor Annise Parker seems to be schooling her opponents on that fact.

In 2009, I said I would make education a priority – and today, on the first day of school in 2013, I wanted to let you know I’ve kept my promise.

Let me be clear: City government is not a school district and should not be in the business of running our schools.

Yet, strong cities cannot exist without strong schools. And that’s why I’ve worked to make sure that our city resources are helping to strengthen schools and help schoolchildren wherever appropriate.

This was definitely the smart approach to take on public education, and the bottom line, the City still affects our local school districts, but it doesn’t necessarily need to run it. Opponents can talk all they want about how it is a priority for them, but actions speak louder. And Mayor Parker, along with members of Council who support these efforts, have every reason to boast about these accomplishments.

That hard work and sacrifice is paying off:

  • Today, we’re rebuilding libraries and funding $7 million in after-school programs.
  • We’ve funded a new summer youth jobs program and restored Saturday library hours that were cut during the recession.
  • Our Safe Sidewalks program is building new sidewalks around elementary and middle schools and helping parents organize “walking school buses” to keep kids safe as they walk to school.
  • HISD is rebuilding, upgrading and/or modernizing neighborhood schools in every corner of our city – I endorsed and supported that bond measure because it will help both schools and neighborhoods.
  • We’re working with labor unions incentivize apprenticeship programs on many city-funded projects, including projects funded by last year’s successful bond referendum.
  • And we’ve stepped up our efforts to incentivize the development of workforce housing that is affordable for teachers, police officers, firefighters and middle-class Houstonians.

I’ve appointed Marc Cueva as my chief education officer and he’s doing a great job overseeing the many innovative ways that our city is working to help kids succeed.

I had originally proposed a formal partnership between the city and school districts. But since I’ve become mayor, we’re actively partnering with school districts, nonprofits and the business community to strengthen schools, help schoolchildren and prepare our youth to enter the workforce – and we’re doing all this without the additional cost and layer of bureaucracy of a formal partnership.

Granted, I’m more in support of raising taxes so that we can put this commitment on steroids; but, that said, I’m also a reasonable voter who prefers specifics, rather than just words, . The Mayor’s website provides a whole bunch of actions taken by the City during her tenure in support of public education.

As far as it being a “promise kept” by the Mayor, I would have to agree.

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