It has been difficult to watch the struggles facing the people of Texas. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected by the flooding.
But there have been some positive signs that traditional public schools will start again in Houston. Some of those signs are uplifting and should give everyone hope during this tough time for Texas.
A Houston Superintendent Demonstrating Leadership
Houston school superintendent Richard A. Carranza strikes me as a strong leader looking to make the best out of a difficult situation. It isn’t often I get to write what I think is good news, but here goes.
- The superintendent expressed understanding of the problems facing students, families and teachers who have been displaced by the flooding. He struck me as compassionate. He spoke calmly.
- He has been surveying all the public schools in the district to determine the damage and what needs to be done. Some schools have flooding. Others have leaks. Schools have also been shelters for those displaced.
- Some of the students will consolidate. Other students will meet in buildings like libraries. Schools will not open on September 5thas originally planned. But he plans on having them open on the 11th—about a week later. That’s reassuring, although it might need to be pushed back further.
- They are recruiting counselors from around the country to deal with trauma. They recognize the real social and emotional needs children have after this event. And, I loved that Carranza recognized that teachers are hurting too and may need support.
- Students will be provided with three meals during the school day. There is nothing that will help a child learn better than a full stomach.
- They are also working to communicate with students and staff on social media in English and Spanish.
- Austin is collecting donations and will support the district.
Other Programs Started to Assist Schools
It is good to recognize the creativity and kindness of other educators who have also stepped-up to assist those in need.
Principals Helping Principals
Kristen Eriksen, principal of Sunset Valley Elementary in the Keller school district, was, like so many, heartbroken watching the devastation. She rallied her colleagues together, and developed a spreadsheet that would describe the needs of each affected school.
Principals from around the country can partner with a school to help them with supplies and other needs.
Here is the Website Principals Helping Principals.
The Twitter hashtag is #principalshelpingprincipals
Teachers Helping Teachers
Jessica Perry, a special education teacher at Gossler Park Elementary School in New Hampshire had the same kind of thought, but for teachers to partner with teachers. Teachers from around the country can have their students adopt a classroom in the flooded school district.
Briana Beverly a University of Central Florida graduate and teacher, who is at home with a new baby, runs a blog. She is also connecting teachers across the country with teachers in Texas for assistance.
This all sounds good. For now the generosity and kindness of Americans and Texans, not to mention great leadership on the part of educators, is shining through.
There are many grave concerns surrounding this flood. In the midst of such devastation, educators and parents who follow education reform have wondered about the survival of public schools in Houston. We remember vividly that after Katrina, New Orleans schools were turned into charters.
So it isn’t any wonder bloggers worry on social media that the same thing could happen to Houston and surrounding areas affected by the flooding.
I have listed those articles at the bottom because the concerns are valid. School privatization is always a threat.
But for now it sounds like there is hope, Texas, for your public schools and the children.
Articles: Watching Out for Charter School Conversion
By Ashana Bigard
By Mercedes Schneider
By Steven Singer
***I originally, incorrectly stated that all of the New Orleans schools have been converted to charters. Here is the correct information. From the school district site: “As of July 1, 2016 there are 28 OPSB Schools, 22 of which are OPSB-authorized charter schools. OPSB serves over 18,000 students across all grade levels accounting for more than 33% of the citywide public school total.” I apologize for the mistake.