New Houston ISD Board Members Present Opportunity to Co-Design Family-Driven Solutions
By: Andy Canales, Executive Director, Texas
Throughout 2021, we watched a group of dynamic Latina mothers and guardians come together and develop a shared vision for the type of educational change they want to see leaders within Houston ISD in order to help their children achieve educational equity. Their voice had been traditionally overlooked and ignored by the Houston ISD School Board for years, but that soon started to change as they met with Superintendent Millard House during his first 100 days in office; as well as school board members Sue Dieegard and Anne Sung.
Their 10-point plan for Houston ISD includes expanding access to programs outside of school hours to support the various needs of students, equitable access to resources that facilitate better learning outcomes for all students, effective teachers and school leaders, and so many other priorities that they feel are critical to the success of Latino students.
With two new members joining the Houston ISD School Board this year, we welcome the opportunity to continue co-designing family driven solutions that can help students thrive.
There is already fertile ground that we can build on, starting with recent changes by the Houston ISD Board of Education to give Spanish-speaking parents the same opportunities to actively participate in school board meetings as English-speaking parents. Simultaneous translation services will now be provided at all school board meetings moving forward, creating an atmosphere that promotes equity in education access for families.
Another place to build off of is Superintendent House’s priorities within his 100 day report. Three of his priorities align with those of our Familias Latinas por la Educación:
● Our families stand for better economic conditions and access to resources such as housing, food, school supplies (for example: computers, internet).
● Our families stand for access to support resources and early access for learning disabilities.
● Our families stand for access to effective teachers, as a teacher can make a difference in a child’s development.
Unfortunately, because the pandemic proved there to be significant gaps and unequal distribution of resources such as food, computers, and internet service for Latino families, we are eager to witness how equitable access of these resources can be rethought by Houston ISD using ARPA funds.
We hope that those funds will also increase support offered to special needs students and English-language learners in the district, as both groups are disproportionately affected by a lack of resources in the classroom.
In addition to accessible and supportive resources, our students must have the opportunity to learn from effective teachers. Our students deserve high-quality educators, including educators who are culturally competent and reflect their communities.
All three of these issues need to be made priorities for Houston ISD moving forward. It is Latinos for Education’s hope that with the addition of new board members, the Houston ISD School Board will make visible and tangible improvements in all areas, and we look forward to connecting them with our families, witnessing the changes made through those relationships, and growing our partnership.
Andy Canales is the Executive Director, Texas at Latinos for Education. Previously, Andy worked in education as a teacher and nonprofit director. He serves on the boards of TEACH and the Latino Texas PAC, which he chairs. He’s a Senior American Leadership Forum Fellow, a Leadership ISD Fellow, and a Houston Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree. Andy holds a dual B.A. in Political Science and Religion from Pepperdine University and a Master’s of Science in Education from Hunter College. As the son of Salvadoran immigrants and first-generation college graduate, Andy is passionate about expanding educational equity.