Tag Archives: Houston ISD

HISD Board Appoints Flynn Vilaseca to Unexpired District VI Post

hollymariaI was happy and proud to hear that Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca was appointed by the Houston ISD Board of Trustees to the unexpired District VI post which I discussed this past weekend. Here’s the story from HISD:

Houston ISD Trustees on Monday unanimously agreed to appoint Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca to serve the unexpired trustee term representing District VI on the district’s west side.

Flynn Vilaseca, who is fluent in English and Spanish, worked as a bilingual teacher at HISD’s Windsor Village Elementary School as a Teach for America corps member from 2004 to 2006. Since then, Ms. Vilaseca has continued working in the education field with Battelle for Kids, K12 Inc., and thinkLaw.

“I am excited to serve the city and students of Houston,” Flynn Vilaseca said.

Flynn Vilaseca holds a master’s degree in social-organizational psychology from Columbia University, and bachelor’s degrees in Latin American and Caribbean studies and in sports management and communications from the University of Michigan.

Flynn Vilaseca, along with newly elected District VII Trustee Anne Sung, are scheduled to take the oath of office on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Both Flynn Vilaseca and Sung are filling unexpired trustee terms that run through the end of 2017.

I’ve known Holly Maria for about five years now and she’s been nothing short of impressive with her commitment to service and to public education. There is no doubt that she will be a good fit on the Board and for District VI. All one has to do is read her workplace bio:
Holly Maria is passionate about affording equitable access to education to all students and has been involved in the fight towards closing the achievement gap for the past twelve years. The daughter of an immigrant mother and blue-collar laborer growing up in a small town where opportunities were limited, she was the first in her family to go to college…
Congratulations to Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca!
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The HISD Board Vacancy: A Few Thoughts

As Kuff reminded us back in December, there is a vacancy on the Houston ISD Board of Trustees after the resignation of Greg Meyers in District VI, and the Board will be appointing a replacement to complete Meyers’ term. A little bird tells me that the Board is getting closer to naming that appointee, so, it’s time the community have a conversation about this process.

District VI stretches from the Sharpstown area through the Westheimer/Gessner area and on to the far reaches of the west side to Highway 6. Given its meandering through these areas, little doubt is left as to its diversity, and this speaks volumes as to the need for added diversity on the school board. If anything, it also speaks to the need for a responsive, action-oriented individual to serve this trustee district.

That Houston ISD is diverse is nothing new. That 62% of its students are Latinos is also nothing new. Notwithstanding the trustee district’s westerly location, out of 15 elementary schools, eight are majority Latino schools, while two will soon reach majority Latino status. The future is not only diverse, but emergingly Latino at Houston ISD. As such, diversity in political representation is something that must be discussed.

Of course, ethnicity isn’t the only characteristic that is at issue. The recent election in which the vast majority of voters chose to not send local dollars to the State of Texas, instead choosing to call on the State Legislature to fix school finance shows that Houstonians are worried about the city’s educational foundation. The Board of Trustees needs someone who will advocate for Houston’s future–the kids–from Day 1 and beyond the rest of the term for which she/he will be appointed.

Some may argue “voter demographics” as a means of choosing a trustee who better matches up to past election results in the district, but there is such a thing as taxpayer demographics. Whether one is a homeowner or a renter, any ethnicity or color, and whether one lives closer to the west side or to Sharpstown, all are taxpayers and all deserve to be heard. Perhaps in the future the board can venture into a fairer redistricting process, but, until then, it is up to the Board in this instance.

Still, others may argue that District VI merely needs a placeholder to serve until the term is completed, while taxpayers wait for the November election to elect a full-term trustee. With the issues that Houston ISD faces, especially as a Legislative session looms, the Board needs a committed individual who is willing to serve beyond the year that is left in the term. It will not be a surprise if any placeholder decides to run for the full-term.

The Houston ISD Board of Trustees has a unique opportunity to be responsive to the needs of constituencies who often go ignored by government entities in this area of the city. Appointing an individual who has worked in and has an understanding of the current and future diversity of the district and who has an undying commitment to public education, K-12 and beyond, is the only path to achieving fair representation.

 

Hispanic Professionals Honor Juliet Stipeche

julietfr1

Hispanic Professionals Host Committee

A group of Hispanic professionals got together Wednesday night at El Tiempo on Navigation to honor and fundraise for Houston ISD District 8 Trustee Juliet Stipeche.

Vying for her second full-term on the Board of Trustees, Stipeche has not taken any voter for granted, running a full-fledged campaign to earn what she calls “the people’s seat.” And earn she has tried to do by being an accessible school trustee from Day 1; attending countless community meetings to listen to voters and leading on various issues.

julietfr2The event included speakers with experience in dealing with board trustees. One, a school principal stated that trustees must be open to discuss the issues that those who serve the students directly deal with on a daily basis. Another speaker, a parent of HISD alumni and current students spoke to the ease in which she has worked with Stipeche. Whether it was PTO issues, or her own challenges with ensuring her daughter went through a successful college-going process, she credited Juliet Stipeche with being accessible, caring, and most of all, proactive in addressing the needs of families, students, and teachers.

julietfr3Stipeche reminded voters that being an effective trustee means sacrificing one’s livelyhood at times, but that the work is fulfilling and the time spent on fighting for a better school district is worth it. Indeed, Stipeche was recognized for leading on literacy programs, ethics and campaign finance reform, budget and contract transparency, non-discrimination policy, and on placing the needs of students first. Also looming in the near future for HISD is the search and hiring of a new Superintendent, for which Stipeche intends to promote a thorough, community-based process.

julietfr5To volunteer for the Juliet Stipeche campaign, contact Vilma Morera at 832-883-8134. Make a contribution at http://www.julietforhisd.com

Houston ISD Backs Mexican American Studies

Kudos to HISD Board President Juliet Stipeche for calling on the board to consider a resolution favoring Mexican American Studies be added to curriculum offerings–an issue to be voted on by the Texas State Board of Education on April 9. As reported by Ericka Mellon:

The 9-0 vote followed some debate over whether the district would appear to be favoring one culture over another.

HISD board president Juliet Stipeche, who brought the resolution to the board for consideration, asked her colleagues whether they could name five Mexican-American leaders in history.

“It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that we don’t know,” she said.

As I’ve mentioned previously:

The Texas State Board of Education is set to vote in early April on including Mexican American Studies in the state curriculum. Unfortunately, those who are iffy or possibly against the proposal are all Republicans and at least three more are needed to pass the proposal. Let’s give them a call and ask them to support Mexican American Studies at their next meeting on April 9.

At least one Republican on the SBOE, however, appears to support the idea. Vice chairman Thomas Ratliff told The Texas Tribune in February: “Some of [the board members] are trying to say that they don’t want to start creating a whole bunch of other studies for every other ethnic group. I don’t understand that concern because there aren’t any other ethnic groups that make up a significant portion of the state’s population like the Hispanics do.”

Houston: Call Donna Bahorich at 832.303.9091
Woodlands: Call Barbara Cargill at 512.463.9007
San Antonio: Call Ken Mercer at 512.463.9007
Ft. Worth: Call Patricia Hardy at 817.598.2968
Dallas: Call Geraldine Miller at 972.419.4000 or qtince@aol.com
Waco: Call Sue Melton-Melone at 254.749.0415 or smelton51@gmail.com
Amarillo: Call Marty Rowley at 806.373.6278 or  martyforeducation@gmail.com

General e-mails in support of the proposal may also be sent to:  sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us

Don’t Sell HSLECJ – Updated

UPDATE:  The Chron reports that both offers for the property have been rejected. Supt’d Grier states he will put the property back on the market.

One of Houston ISD’s best schools is the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. I mean, if it produced someone like my friend, HISD Trustee and Attorney Juliet Stipeche, then it must be a great incubator for our city’s future leaders. But the status that it has earned is now threatened by a land sale deal that could leave Houston ISD and the students of HSLECJ shortchanged.

Houston ISD wants to sell the land for a nice price and in turn use that cash to buy more land and build a new HSLECJ. The problem is that while the new school is being constructed, Houston ISD would pay rent to the new owners at a hefty price. Under one deal, HISD would pay a whopping $100,000 per month, and under another one, $250,000 per month. That would end up eating millions of dollars that could be used toward the new school building.

On top of all of this, Houston ISD is yet to find a suitable piece of land to replace the current school that is beneficial to students  and all stakeholders. And, moreover, HSLECJ is a school that is 70% Latinos and they deserve a better deal than a high-rent building that cuts into the quality and value of their new school. Bottom line, it’s not a good deal and the Houston ISD Board of Trustees should not rush into the deal. In other words, I agree with the Editorial in the Houston Chronicle, a copy of which I provide below. Give it a read. Then contact your Houston ISD Trustees and tell them to stop the sale of HSLECJ.

Thoughts on Viernes…12142012

 

Dem Women Holiday Party–A Blast!

So, I, along with my sisters, attended the Holiday Party put on by the local Democratic Women’s clubs and, as always, it was a blast. Held at Planned Parenthood, the highlight for me was listening to two great speeches from SD-6 candidates Sylvia Garcia and Carol Alvarado. Each, in their own way, has been at the front lines fending off the Republican War on Women, so, the fact that there are two Latinas with a strong record of supporting a Woman’s right to choose in the running to represent a predominantly Latino seat is a pretty exciting thing.

Good music by Carli Mosier and the band; great food and desserts; and some amazing libations were the icing on the cake. And yes, there was cake!

Grier Rewarded…

But for what? Should Houston ISD be giving money out like it’s going out of style? One thing is rebuilding high schools for kids–that’s an investment in the future. But a $115K salary bonus, part of it for being “satisfactory”? His tenure wasn’t even up until 2014! Anyway, my good friend Juliet Stipeche voted against it and she is to be commended for taking a stand. Unfortunately, my own trustee voted for the giveaway. Anyone ready to run against him?

Musica Break – Los Texmaniacs w/ Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos