Dear Houston ISD Board of Trustees,
This unprecedented and difficult moment that Houston parents, educators and students are living through necessitates bold, strategic, and responsive leadership. The COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted every part of our education system, setting so many students back in their academic journey and forcing some educators to leave the profession altogether. The pandemic has also brought to the forefront a truth so many of us know too well: our education system doesn’t serve all students equally.
Black, Latino, low-income, and immigrant students are disproportionately carrying the weight of this pandemic and are also the ones that have historically been sidelined by our education system. These students got locked out of their virtual classrooms during the pandemic due to the digital divide, schools not being prepared to deliver instruction to English learners in a remote setting, and because our schools were not delivering information to families in a culturally and linguistically accessible way. This is unacceptable.
The education students were receiving before the pandemic was not working and returning to business as usual certainly won’t help us address the academic setbacks students have experienced during this pandemic. That is why the search for the next Superintendent of Houston ISD is so critical. The challenges the next Superintendent will have to address are monumental, but by turning to parents, educators and community leaders to design these solutions we are confident they can be successful.
Sixty-two percent of students in Houston ISD are Latino, so the voice of Latinos matters when it comes to choosing the next superintendent. That is why Latinos for Education surveyed our network of Latino education leaders, HISD parents, and community members to understand their expectations for the next Superintendent. We heard from nearly 100 English and Spanish-speaking Latinos including half Latino HISD parents about their expectations for the next HISD Superintendent. These five expectations summarize their collective responses:
- Above all, the next HISD Superintendent must improve the quality of education students receive and
improve student outcomes for all.
- The next Superintendent must champion equity in their decision making by understanding the diversity
of Houston ISD students and targeting resources equitably.
- The next Superintendent must listen and understand the needs of the Latino community and provide
Latino parents with opportunities to support their child’s education.
- The next Superintendent should be someone with a history of successful school leadership in Black and
Latino communities and someone who reflects the district’s diversity.
- The next Superintendent must have a clear vision for how they will tackle the issues that are top of mind
for Latinos: access to early childhood education, improving early literacy, revamping the quality of
education for English Language Learners, recruiting and supporting diverse educators, and getting
students prepared for college.
We see these community recommendations as non-negotiables, and we hope you will too as you embark on your superintendent search.
Furthermore, we hope and expect that you will continue to provide more opportunities for Latino parents, educators and community members to engage throughout the search process – they know our students best and it is important that their voices and concerns inform the selection process. The pandemic has reminded us of the critical role parents and community partners play in helping children navigate their education – and helping them get ahead – therefore we cannot shut them out of the education decision making process, particularly this superintendent search.
We look forward to working with you as the search progresses and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Executive Director, Texas, at Latinos for Education