Place your bets on when the first major brouhaha of the Terry Grier Era will take place.
Closing small schools. Firing teachers whose students consistently fail. Tinkering with popular magnet programs.
A pile of these and other political hot potatoes is now in the lap of Terry Grier, who began work Friday as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District.
The issues are not entirely new to Grier, who has led eight other school systems, but whether he can successfully tackle them in Houston will hinge on his ability to win over the school board, teachers, parents, local politicians and the community.
“He is very personable and he is very bright,” said Gayle Fallon, the president of HISD’s largest teacher group. “If he learns the politics of Houston, he’ll do fine. If he doesn’t, it’ll eat him alive.”
This post is not intended as any kind of comment on Grier’s political skills. I don’t know nearly enough about the man to make any such comment. It’s just to note the reality of the situation, in which conflicts about certain contentious issues are expected and inevitable. The question is how long will it take till the fur starts flying, how fractious it becomes, and most importantly, how much resentment lingers afterward among those who don’t get what they wanted. The answers to those questions will determine to a large extent how we eventually assess Grier’s tenure.