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Endorsement watch: HISD Trustee

The Chron finishes up their work for this election by making its endorsements in the HISD Trustee races.

For HISD Trustee in District I, an open seat, we recommend Anna Eastman. As the president of the Travis Elementary PTA, Eastman was known for fighting hard for her school, and she’s likely to be just as persistent in attacking HISD’s dropout rate. As a former social worker, she understands the complex problems facing Houston’s least-privileged kids. She’s a strong proponent of school choice, magnet-school busing, and of holding HISD employees accountable for students’ performance.

For HISD Trustee in District V, also an open seat, we recommend Mike Lunceford, a petroleum engineer and member of HISD’s bond oversight committee. He notes that as a parent he’s seen the best that HISD has to offer — his daughter graduated from Bellaire with 42 hours of AP credits — but he states strongly that we must fix the system’s worst. Our “horrible” dropout rate, he says, can be mitigated with early-childhood programs and by assigning strong teachers to students when they begin to fall behind.

For HISD Trustee in District IX, we believe that Adrian Collins is the best choice. District IX is home to several of HISD’s most troubled schools. Incumbent Larry Marshall has served for more than a decade, but we believe that, for the sake of the district’s students, it’s time for change.

Once again, I’m pleased that they managed to get all this done before the start of Early Voting. That’s not how it had been in recent elections. I hope this is the new normal.

You can listen to my interview with Eastman here, my interview with Lunceford here, and of course my interview with Collins is just beneath this post. You can also find interviews with the other candidates in Districts I and V on my 2009 Election page. Today is also the day that the Chron has its overview of District I, which notes that Eastman is endorsed by outgoing Trustee Natasha Kamrani.

Kamrani pushed for the Houston Independent School District to more aggressively weed out weak teachers based, in part, on low student test scores — an idea that drew fighting words from HFT President Gayle Fallon.

Even before Kamrani announced she would not seek re-election, Fallon lent support to candidate Alma Lara, a retired HISD principal.

[…]

All three District I candidates said HISD should continue rewarding performance bonuses to top teachers based on student test scores, and they agreed that teachers who fall short need more training.

“If there is no change in students’ success, career adjustments and growth plans need to be in place and enforced,” Toyota said.

Eastman agreed that struggling teachers should be put on improvement plans.

“Kids only have one chance,” she said. “We must insist that we have teachers who can achieve academic growth in their classrooms.”

Lara said the district has a process for documenting poor-performing teachers, and it should use student data to improve teacher training.

I fully expect this race to go to a runoff, just as Kamrani won election in 2005 in a runoff. Just over 3,000 votes ultimately decided the winner in December. If you’re in District I, please pay attention to this race. Your vote really matters.

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