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The HISD elections and Terry Grier

The Chron writes about the possible effect of the HISD Trustee elections on Superintendent Terry Grier and his agenda items like Apollo and revamped teacher evaluations. Of the three contested elections, the one that has the greatest potential to swing the way the Board operates is in District VII.

Harvin Moore

Harvin Moore

The closely watched District 7 race pits incumbent Harvin Moore, a staunch supporter of Grier, against Anne Sung, a former teacher critical of Grier’s strategies.


The board’s 6-3 vote approving the district budget in June highlighted the divide among trustees. The wedge issue was an allocation of $30 million to continue the Apollo program and to expand its key elements – small-group tutoring and a longer school day – to more campuses.

Moore, who voted with the majority on the budget, argues that HISD is headed in the right direction under Grier. Voters last year approved a $1.9 billion construction bond issue, the largest in Texas history, and the district won the national Broad Prize for Urban Education in September for its academic improvement.

Moore said he has talked to Grier privately about improving his communication with the public and is pleased with the progress.

“He’s still a strong-minded individual, and I think that’s a strength,” Moore said.

Anne Sung

Anne Sung

Sung taught at Lee High School, one of the Apollo campuses, and said the program pushed short-term gains on state tests rather than deeper learning. She also said she would like to see less emphasis on test scores in teachers’ job evaluations.

Adams said she hasn’t studied the evaluation system enough to weigh in. She wants to expand the small-group tutoring that has proven successful in the Apollo program across the district.

The Houston Federation of Teachers union, which has bashed the teacher evaluation system and generally stayed neutral on Apollo, endorsed Sung and Adams.

“No one went out and recruited people that just hated the superintendent,” union president Gayle Fallon said. “We recruited people who supported teachers. Teacher evaluation is a very big issue with us.”

The board had been moving to include test scores in the job appraisals before Grier arrived, but he has supported holding teachers accountable based on the data.

Sung has run a strong race. She’s outraised Moore and has garnered an impressive array of endorsements, mostly from Democratic-leaning organizations. That to me is the X factor in this race – partisan affiliation. HISD races, like city of Houston races, are officially non-partisan, but anyone who is paying attention knows what team a given candidate is on. Sung is a Democrat, Moore is one of three Republicans on the Board (Mike Lunceford and Greg Meyers are the others). I unfortunately don’t have any electoral data on HISD districts so I can’t make any quantitative statements, but it should be clear at a glance that District VII would be considered a solid Republican district in any context where partisan identity mattered. I have no idea how much it might matter in this context. Both candidates have focused on the issues, but I’m sure they’ve been busy letting fellow team members in the district know that they wear the same colors. It would be foolish not to. Again, I have no idea how much of a factor this will be. I do believe it is a factor, just one that isn’t readily measurable. This is definitely one of the races I’ll be watching closely.

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  1. joshua ben bullard says:

    I am concerned with anne sung as a candidate and heres why=first if you go back and listen to her interview=which i took the liberty in doing she says in her own words”i didnt vote on the proposition because i was out of town”=so are we to beleive that candidate anne sung didnt have time to drop into an early voting location over a two week period and vote??and she skipped election day out right, all together but she tells charles kuffner that if she wasnt out of town she would have voted yes on the proposition,to me thats crazy because anne sung should have priotized her time in a better fasion to go out and vote at the polls=i dont like the fact that she was to busy for our kids to vote for something of such large calliber but she can show up day in and day out soliciting your vote for her when she runs for office.however her opponent moore did vote for our kids,he made the tough call to fight for extra 2 to 1 and 3 to 1 tuturing for our kids=the one that= anne sung says is to expensive for our kids ,with harvin moores plan,,=kids math score’s skyrocketed, but anne says ishe wouldnt support it,you know what?i really like about Harvin Mooore being on hisd board , he doesnt play politics,he is fueled by passion to help all children excel in learning and hes not afraid to spend money on kids future,as for anne sung,whos to say when its time to make the tough calls she wont be out of town again,my dem friends,my rep friends,my inde friends,my green friends,my lib friends,trust me, the correct vote in this school boards race is for Harvin Moore=even the houston chronicle say so.
    joshua ben bullard

  2. Claudia de Leon says:

    Anne Sung is the right choice for District 7. She is thoughtful and is more interested in real learning rather than making short-term gains on High-Stakes Standardized Tests (HSST). These tests have always been around, but with the emphasis that has been placed on them, teacher and administrative behaviors in the public school system have changed. It is proven that teachers already treat children according to their test scores. This is highlighted, emphasized and exaggerated with HSST. Any parent will tell you that any child is more than their test scores. Children have been seen vomiting, and have “bathroom accidents” due to the fear and anxiety they experience with these tests. It is abominable. Take the tests, learn how the child, school are doing on the national average. Take off some of the pressure to perform. Everyone knows that low SES students do less well on average than their high SES peers. The only thing these tests do is provide justification to underfund and eventually close schools in minority neighborhoods. How’s that for No Child Left Behind.

  3. […] had wondered if partisan affiliation might be a factor in the HISD 7 race between Republican incumbent Harvin […]