The Chron gives some coverage to the HISD I open seat race and the three candidates in it, all of whom attended a candidates' forum at Hamilton Middle School on Monday night.
Richard Cantú, 36, director of Mayor Bill White's Citizens' Assistance Office, has unsuccessfully sought public office on the school board and City Council before. He attended District 1 schools, and so do his children.
Natasha Kamrani, 37, left Ohio 15 years ago to become a Teach for America teacher in Houston. She later served as the organization's Houston director and is now an attorney. Her husband, Chris Barbic, is a Teach for America alum and founder of YES College Prep, a Houston charter school. They are the parents of two toddlers.
Anne Flores Santiago, 38, grew up in District 1 and is the daughter of Yolanda Flores, a Houston Community College board member. Santiago owns a private ambulance service. Her daughter attends Catholic school.
Each candidate has a different opinion on tax-funded charter schools, many of which operate within HISD with the school district's support.
Santiago said she opposes charter schools because they "take funding away from our HISD schools." Cantú said he supports some charter schools but not those that recruit HISD students. Kamrani favors charter schools because they offer parents more options.
They also have different ideas about preparing students for college. Kamrani said HISD should assume every student will enroll in college.
Though she agrees college is important, Santiago said she would concentrate on expanding HISD's partnership with Houston Community College to help students get job skills while earning college credits. Cantú said HISD needs a better balance between vocational programs and college preparation.
"I don't think college preparation and vocational studies necessarily need to compete," he said.
All three candidates said they favor merit-based pay for teachers but have different ideas on how it should work.
"I favor merit pay for our teachers," Santiago said. "Not necessarily for administrators."
Kamrani said she likes the idea of tying teacher and principal pay to their students' performance but not on an individual basis.
Cantú said he wants across-the-board teacher pay raises and to do away with the big bonuses being paid to principals and high-ranking administrators.