Just plain ‘welcome’ to new year for HISD administrators

Even though it was billed as a “Welcome Back” rally for HISD administrators Friday at Chavez HS, Superintendent Terry Grier was quick to make a distinction. “It’s a ‘we never went anywhere’ event,” he said, thanking the hundreds of employees who worked through the summer.

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Among those Grier acknowledged were the principals at 29 of the district’s schools that offered extended-year programs for students through last week, and those who worked on the district’s new Linked Learning approach that creates a single pathway for academic rigor and career preparation with 40 pilot schools, the second phase of the PowerUp one-to-one laptop initiative, which will add 18 high schools, and expansion of dual language programs to a total of 28 HISD campuses.

But make no doubt, Grier said, the “main thing” for the district is its Literacy By 3 initiative that aims to have every child reading on grade level by the end of third grade and provide personalized attention to secondary students whose literacy skills are lacking. “We cannot ‘not’ succeed at this,” Grier said. “If we can’t get it right here in Houston, I worry that our country can’t get it right.”

Board President Juliet Stipeche quoted the namesake of the school where the rally was held, Cesar Chavez: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

She charged HISD’s school leaders to “empower your students with knowledge and wisdom, and by doing that, you are going to make sure that the city of Houston will continue to prosper.”