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The state of HISD

HISD SUperintendent Terry Grier gave his state of the school district speech this week.

Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier announced plans Thursday to toughen the district’s curriculum and to expand access to college-caliber courses despite tight financial times.

Grier, in his second-annual State of the Schools speech, said slowing down academic reforms — when less than 20 percent of the district’s students are deemed ready for college – would be “morally unacceptable” and “economically irresponsible.”

“We must understand that the challenge ahead of us is monumental,” Grier said, noting looming cuts in state funding. “And, yes, we may have to do more with less, but frankly we can’t demand a no-excuses attitude from our students if we adults aren’t willing to embrace that philosophy as well.”

Grier, who has focused heavily on low-performing schools in his first 18 months on the job, said the entire district needs a more challenging, engaging curriculum that goes beyond Texas’ requirements and reflects national and international standards.

The story quoted Rice sociologist Stephen Klineberg, who said that Grier “gets it” about the importance of educating kids from low income families. Some other folks such as Margaret Downing of the Houston Press were less impressed.

In a State of the Schools luncheon speech that started about an hour later than predicted, Grier unveiled nothing especially new, at least not to people who work for the district and/or follow the school board and district news. He reflected on the usual glories of the past year (national recognition for some HISD schools and students), named the challenges (massive budget cuts, students not performing on grade level) and rallied the troops to avoid “the path of low expectations.”

You can see more about the speech, including a link to the full text and a statement from HISD Board President Paula Harris here. Beyond that, there are no other opinions of the speech, so not having seen him deliver it myself I don’t know how well it was received. Regardless of how much new ground he broke in the address, it’s still the case that Grier will ultimately be judged by results. If a few years from now it’s the consensus that performance is up, Grier will be lauded as a success. If not, it could get ugly. Anyone want to place a bet?

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One Comment

  1. Marlene Norman says:

    My bet is that Terry Grier will run this district into the ground–he’s already on his way there. I have heard that he plans to have the same curriculum across the board in ALL HISD schools. And because he is such a lover of the “underprivelged”, I’m gonna bet it will be a dumbed down curriculum so that test scores will look good. My understanding is that even if PTO’s want to pay for better curriculums such as Everyday Math, Wordly Wise ( vocabulary), etc. that they will not be allowed. Sounds communistic to me! He needs to look at schools that work such as elementaries like Twain, Roberts, West U, ROE; middle schools like Lanier and Pin Oak and high schools such as Bellaire and Lamar as well as Carnegie, Debakey and HSPVA. Oh, but that would be admitting that someone else did a good job and b/c he’s a narcissist, it is ALL about him. Just remember: he was fired in North Carolina and asked to leave in San Diego. I cannot wait until he leaves!!! In the meantime, I will be looking at private schools for my child.