HISD coverage

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.

Natasha Kamrani and a representative from Anne Flores Santiago’s campaign were at the Woodland Heights Civic Association meeting last night, so I’ve had the opportunity to get a little more informed on this race. One thing I can say here is that Santiago has three kids, one of whom is in college, one is 11, and the other is a preschooler – I presume the daughter in question here is the middle child.

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.

Several weeks ago I sent a questionnaire to these three folks, in an attempt to get more information about them and this race, which will be on my ballot in November (the HISD trustee map is here if you’re not sure which district you’re in). Richard Cantu’s answers are here. I still hope to get responses from the other two – I followed up with them last night – and will print them when I do.

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3 Responses to HISD coverage

  1. Tim says:

    Does anyone know where each of these candidates stands on the HISD property tax hike that was just announced? Or are they all in support of it?

  2. Mathwiz says:

    Nice questionnaire, but I rather wish you’d asked about the “hot button” issues: sex ed., censorship of books, and “intelligent design,” as well.

    I realize that many folks overemphasize the importance of those issues, when most of the Board’s work involves more mundane matters. But they are at least somewhat important issues, and it’s a good bet the wingnuts already know who their friends are. We need to know as well.

    We don’t want HISD to turn into the next Dover, PA, after all.

  3. larry says:

    Anne wants to hold the line on Property Taxes.

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