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Superintendent House has arrived

He’s got a lot of work in front of him.

When Millard House II officially [started] as the new superintendent of Houston ISD on Thursday, he [had] a stack of challenges awaiting his attention.

Some students fell further behind during the coronavirus pandemic while others were “lost” amid its grip. The district expects to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal COVID-19 stimulus funding with no public plan for the funds in place yet. While teachers are set to receive a raise, their compensation has lagged neighboring districts, and trustees voted three weeks ago to mandate House propose a potentially larger teacher pay raise in August, when the district’s financial outlook may be clearer.

As House assumes his new role, members of the HISD community said they hope he can tackle a variety of priorities, from funding to inequities, and expressed excitement to work with him.

“The first job as a new superintendent is to learn the community, learn our schools, learn our neighborhoods,” said HISD Trustee Anne Sung, who bumped into House this week while visiting schools. “He’s already doing that so I think he’s off to a great start.”

House, 49, who was not made available for an interview this week, arrives from Tennessee, where he led the seventh-largest district in the state, the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

[…]

Among the biggest challenges for House and the district will be helping students who fell behind during the pandemic.

Standardized test score data released this week revealed one of the clearest looks yet at the pandemic’s impact. Roughly two-thirds of HISD eighth-graders did not meet math proficiency, compared with 28 percent in 2019.

Additionally, some students stopped attending class altogether, prompting recovery efforts, such as a recent four-day phone bank aimed at convincing some to return.

“We have a tremendous deficit,” said Houston Federation of Teachers President Jackie Anderson, who leads the district’s largest employees union. “We are very concerned about that. I want him to know that it is not an ‘us against them’ — it is ‘we.’ And we all need to be working together, and I think that if that happens … we can be successful.”

Add the STAAR scores to the pile. Superintendent House and the Board and all the stakeholders will have plenty to do to get things going, with federal COVID relief funds available to help out. Here’s his introductory message:

Welcome to Houston. Now please make yourself available for interviews. Thank you, and god luck.

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One Comment

  1. Lobo says:

    EMPTY HOUSE SHOW AND NO TELL

    At least namewise, he sounds like a homie. Will he clean house?

    On a more probing note, what are the frontline educators and parents supposed to make of this welcome video? — Replete as it is with platitudes and cliches. No hint of house-cleaning it gives. Nor of how to improve the foundation or the structure. The closest House gets to the matter of reform is an allusion to unspecified “tough decisions” to be made. But that is vacuous and vague. The same can be said about any executive leadership position in any large organization. It’s yet another platitude.

    So, in the face of buzzwords and blah — Go HISD! – there is really nothing of substance to comment on here.

    Incoming District Chief House doesn’t even bother to acknowledge discreet challenges awaiting him.  Journalists have to do it for him, to justify a complete news article about his hiring.

    And making HISD even more uber-superlatively fantastic? – Gee. Can’t wait to watch that unfold. But who seriously concurs with his premise: the supposedly already stellar state of the status quo?

    It may not be inappropriate for a large minority-rich district like Houston ISD to specifically seek out a black leader (though a bilingual Hispanic with bi-cultural competence would be preferable regardless of skin tone), but the peddling of platitudes provides evidence of neither a vision nor of a plan. One would reasonably expect both from an incoming head honcho irrespective of background demographics.

    So what is Mr. House up to?

    Why doesn’t he even tell us how his credentials and prior experience make him uniquely suited for this helluva job? Even if he knows little about all things HISD, surely he had to submit a resume at some point in the selection process and field the standard set of queries in the vetting process.

    Instead, the attentive populace has to wonder … and just stay tuned.

    The Allstate guy on TV at least makes you believe that you are in good hands.

    HISD kids should be too.

    PS: Seriously, couldn’t Mr. House at least crack a joke about being another pioneer who trekked down from Tennessee? Like, you know, Sam Houston? The eponymous H-Towner. Or Allen West, to pick a demographically better conforming migrant with more recent carpetbagger credentials.