Tag Archives: hcde

HCDE Seeks Input on Superintendent Search

The Harris County Department of Education has launched a search for a new Superintendent and the Board of Trustees needs some community input. The survey is due by Monday, August 11, 2014, so get it done.

Also, if you’re interested in applying for the post, get it done. As Trustee Erica Lee stated, “We are seeking a diverse leader who is suited to meet the changing needs of students, educators and school districts in our community.”

HCDE Community Superintendent Survey
HCDE Superintendent Job Posting (Initial Application due September 8, 2014)
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Jensen Withdraws From HCDE-7 Primary

Traci Jensen announced today that she has withdrawn her name from the 2014 Democratic Primary ballot in the race for Trustee of the Harris County Department of Education. The final-hour candidacy of outgoing City Councilmember Melissa Noriega is the reason for the withdrawal.

After much thought and discussion I decided to withdraw my name from the ballot for HCDE. It was a tough decision but I felt that for the good of the party it was better to maintain unity than to divide loyalties. My money, resources and talents will be better served working towards public education rather than against a fellow candidate that I believe will do a great job protecting HCDE programs. I know Council Member Noriega will make sure Don Sumner stays retired and that she will serve her 6 years in the interest of public schools across Harris County. Thank you to my supporters who were excited by my candidacy. I will remain working behind the scenes for the children of Texas.

Many of Traci’s early supporters, including myself, were shocked to find out the line-up in the race after filing for office closed. Some had mentioned Noriega as a possible candidate for County Commissioner Pct. 2, which left some interested in the post on a holding pattern thinking any last-minute filing could happen, as usually happens in spots that haven’t been filled. Wow, were many surprised.

Some call a contested primary “democracy in action,” others call it an expense of resources that could be better expended against the Republicans. It’s easy to be “against” them when you have a favorite candidate, and it’s easy to be “for” them when you see an unopposed candidate whom you’d prefer was contested. Oh, well.

Since I haven’t heard anything from the other candidate in the race (Lily Leal), I’ll assume that there is still a race to be had for this position.

Needless to say, it takes a pretty cool, selfless person with not a lot of ego to withdraw from a race for the good of the Party.

Emmett Says No to Early to Rise Ballot Item

County Judge Ed Emmett decided to take the undemocratic approach and say “no” to the folks from Early to Rise, who did the democratic thing and collected over 80K signatures to place on the November ballot a one-cent tax increase which would pay for an early childhood education initiative.

Early to Rise released this statement:

Earlier today Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced that he would not order an election to approve a one-cent property tax to support early childhood education.

            “Because we believe the law requires the county judge to place this issue before the voters, we will be filing a petition for a writ of mandamus in behalf of the registered voters who signed the petition requesting relief from the Court of Appeals,” said attorneys Richard Mithoff and Russell Post, who are representing Jonathan Day in behalf of registered voters who signed the petition seeking to put the issue on the ballot.

            “This is not about Judge Emmett.  He is a committed and conscientious public official,” Mithoff said. “This is not about the wisdom of the early childhood initiative: voters may disagree about whether revenue should be raised for this project.”

            “This is about the law,” he said.

            The Texas Legislature has authorized voters to petition for an election to authorize their government to levy and collect taxes for educational purposes.  The requirement to invoke this procedure represents a high hurdle–requiring the support of 10% of voters from the last gubernatorial election.  We have now validated more than twice that number.

          Under these circumstances, the Texas Legislature has mandated that a county judge has no discretion to second-guess the will of the people.  Rather, “the county judge . . . shall immediately order an election.”  This command is unambiguous and unequivocal; it must be enforced.

            Therefore, this initiative should be put before the voters to decide if early childhood education is something they want to invest in.

            The Early to Rise program, to be operated under the auspices of the elected Harris County Board of Education, will strive to improve daycare centers, early childhood education, teacher training and educational opportunities for the more than 400,000 pre-school children in our community.

            Funding will be derived via a one penny per $100 valuation of property, subject to voter approval in November 2013.  Given that the average Harris County home is valued at $192,000, this would be a $19.20 annual tax to homeowners; homeowners over 65 would pay roughly $3.20 a year because of their exemptions.

Frankly, I think that’s too nice a statement on the Judge after all that work Early to Rise put into the effort.

Kuff has more on the Early to Rise plan and its management and oversight, particularly the political accountability. According to the plan, the HCDE board would get to pick some board members to serve, pretty much like other entities in town, like the Sports Authority and Port Authority get appointees. I’m still thinking about whether this is good enough, but at least there is some say. Still, things are in limbo at the moment.

The plot has definitely thickened on this one. Let’s see what the Court of Appeals will say about this one.

More on the HCDE Trustee Appointment

I know I let my frustrations be known on the whole HCDE appointment thing on Friday’s “Thoughts,” and today’s press release from HCDE explains a bit more of what was occurring (my emphasis below).

On June 6 in a special board meeting, the Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees reached a decision to appoint Howard Jefferson to serve the remainder of the term for HCDE Board of Trustees, position 7.  The move comes after an impasse during board deliberations to appoint a replacement for Jim Henley, former HCDE trustee for position 7, who resigned his position.

Jefferson came forward and offered to return to the HCDE Board of Trustees to advocate and serve on behalf of HCDE, its students and 1,200 employees. He possesses a wealth of HCDE Board of Trustee experience as a result of many previous years of service. In addition, he brings decades of community service from his business, education and civic associations.

Questions regarding this matter should be directed to HCDE Board President Angie Chesnut.

Well, with a 3-to-3 Dem-to-Rep ratio on the board, one can see how it could become difficult to move forward if members were sticking with party lines. Kuff had that feeling, too.

Of course, this may be setting up quite the Primary in 2014 if some or all of the applicants who were interested this time around file. And I’m thinking there are other seats not currently held by Dems that they could challenge, too. You know, so we can avoid any impasses in the future. One thing is for sure, the HCDE Board which serves the 3rd largest county in America and which has 41% Latino population, has no Latin@ on the board. Just sayin’.

 

 

 

 

 

Show Your Support for a HCDE Finalist

I didn’t make it a secret that I support my good friend Dr. Rey Guerra for appointment to the vacant position on the Board of Trustees of the Harris County Department of Education. But, to be fair, there are five other finalists.

This afternoon, the Board will be interviewing finalists for the post. Make your voice heard by contacting the members of the board. Who would you like to see in the position? And why?

Here is a list of board members to call and/or e-mail. The HCDE general number is (713) 694-6300.

Angie Chesnut
Board President
achesnut@hcde-texas.org

Debra Kerner
Board Vice-President
dkerner@hcde-texas.org

Erica S. Lee (Carter)
Position 6, Precinct 1
elee@hcde-texas.org

Marvin W. Morris
Position 1, Precinct 2
mmorris@hcde-texas.org

Kay Smith
Position 4, Precinct 3
kasmith@hcde-texas.org

Diane Trautman
Position 3, At Large
dtrautman@hcde-texas.org

We may not get a vote this time around, but we are lucky to have some members on the board who are responsive to their constituents.

 

HCDE Finalists Chosen

UPDATE:  The list of finalists below or in the linked image are NOT in any particular order. 

In case you hadn’t heard through Kuff, our good friend Jim Henley resigned from the Harris County Department of Education Board of Trustees recently. The process to fill the vacancy began recently, and today, six finalists were chosen to be interviewed by the board.

  • Dr. Davetta Daniels – Local educator, recent candidate for HISD Board.
  • Sue Deigaard – Local education activist
  • Louis Evans – UH-Downtown administrator and recent member of the HCDE Board who did not seek re-election.
  • Dr. Rey Guerra – FODC (Friend of Dos Centavos), Engineer, Community Activist, and the only Latino on the list.
  • Dr. Traci Jensen – Educator, recent candidate for Texas Board of Education.
  • Mubeen Khumawala – According to LinkedIn, he works with Deloitte after having worked with in the charter school industry.

I have worked with Dr. Rey Guerra for a few years on various community projects, including Latinos. Engaged. United. Voting., the highly successful Tacos and Votes, the Harris County redistricting hearings to ensure Latino representation on the Harris County Commissioner’s court. Recently, Dr. Guerra hosted a Science Extravaganza at a Heights Middle School in which he and a team of volunteers brought students and professionals in STEM fields together, while also conducting a town hall discussion with the students’ parents.

The current HCDE Board lacks Latin@ representation. In a county with a fast-growing Latino population one must ask why this is so. Given the opportunity, and given a highly qualified individual such as Dr. Guerra, the opportunity is readily available to add some diversity to the panel. Above all, Dr. Guerra strongly supports the work of HCDE and was among the first to volunteer to join the effort to ensure a legislative threat to do away with the district was thwarted. Although the effort may be defeated this year, HCDE needs representatives who are willing to advocate strongly, while keeping the community informed of the district’s efforts.

Best of luck to the applicants; however, I strongly support the appointment of Dr. Rey Guerra.