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The Mayor’s education czar

Former HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche has joined the Turner administration.

Juliet Stipeche

Juliet Stipeche

Mayor Sylvester Turner has named former Houston ISD board president Juliet Stipeche to a newly created Director of Education role in his administration, seeking greater collaboration between the city and area schools, community colleges and universities.

Many council members and education advocates praised the move, even as some acknowledged Stipeche’s effectiveness could be limited by the inherent gap between the city and local schools districts, which are legally distinct and governed by separately elected boards.

Turner said Stipeche, who will report directly to him, will work with parents, administrators, law enforcement agencies and neighborhoods, seeking grants and better coordinating what dollars Houston already directs to youth and educational programs. He tied the appointment to his oft-repeated goal of reducing income inequality, saying that social divide often is driven by an inadequate education system.

“This is a golden opportunity to really recognize that we can’t continue to be a growing, dynamic city if our school systems are operating separate and apart,” Turner said. “Not all of it has to do with dollars and cents. Some of it is just making sure that one entity is not doing something that works adversely against the other. It doesn’t make any sense to be closing community neighborhood schools if the city is looking at revitalizing those communities.”

This is a newly-created position, so it’s hard to know at this time what the effect might be. The basic idea of facilitating better cooperation and coordination with schools and colleges makes a lot of sense on a number of levels. For one thing, if we go back to a major theme of the 2009 Mayor’s race, the school districts and all of the colleges have their own police forces, and to whatever extent they can work better with HPD, it’s a good thing. As noted in the story, schools have things like libraries and SPARK parks that can dovetail with amenities the city provides. These entities all pay into the Rebuild Houston fund, and they are all key to the Metro transit network, so prioritizing street and sidewalk repair and improvements around them serve multiple purposes. I’m sure there are other possibilities as well, but if nothing else just having the city talk to HISD and HCC and everyone else on a more regular basis will have benefits. And if it doesn’t work as well as we hoped, then Mayor Turner can wind it down. It’s worth a try, and I look forward to seeing what this office can do. KUHF has more.

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  1. Good for Juliet. If anyone can make a go of this, it’s her!

  2. She could set up a city wide pre k program.
    San antonio and new york currently have city run pre k programs.

    this may require getting past the tea party idiots on city council.