Q&A with Superintendent Millard House II: HISD's 5-year plan
HISD Superintendent Millard House II. Photo by Aswad Walker.

HISD Superintendent Millard House II announced the release of a detailed report outlining his first 100 days in his position.

Superintendent House spent a crucial part of his time engaging in candid conversations with students, parents, staff and community members, sharing their concerns and hopes for the largest school district in Texas. This includes the hundreds of community members who participated in 16 of HISD’s “Listen and Learn’ sessions, hearing the perspectives of those who shape the future of the school district.

 “Over the last three months, I have focused my efforts on understanding the current state of the district and what the community desires us to become through a wide range of listening and learning activities. In addition, I have also worked with my team to take immediate action on critical items such as student safety, learning loss and student engagement,” he said in a letter to the HISD community.

Currently, Superintendent House is leading the district’s five-year strategic plan which will be shared publicly by March 2022. It highlights his top five priorities which includes:

  1. Cultivating World Class Talent at all Levels – We will implement an ambitious, comprehensive strategy to recruit, develop and retain effective and caring teachers, principals and support staff.
  2. Providing Equitable Opportunities and Resources at Every School – We will ensure that every school provides a quality family and student core experience that supports the development of the whole child.
  3. Promoting High-Quality Teaching and Learning – We will provide engaging and rigorous curriculum and instruction that bolsters academic performance.
  4. Ensuring Great Schools and Programs in Every Community – We will accelerate student performance through bold, innovative actions at persistently underperforming schools.
  5. Delivering Effective Services and Supports to Students with Exceptional Needs – We will implement high-quality systems and services that increase achievement for students with specialized needs, including students with disabilities and English language learners.

“My career has prepared me for leading this community right now, in this very challenging time. But I see these challenges as opportunities, and HISD certainly has so much potential to unlock through these opportunities,” said House. “Right now is the time for bold change and re-commitment. And I’m passionate about leading this charge so that students from every zip code can thrive in a future with limitless possibilities.”

DN: Read what Superintendent House’s five key findings from his community listening sessions are at DefenderNetwork.com

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 [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9Z5qwFLb-k] VIDEO OF HIS REPORT

Superintendent Millard House II released a report outlining his 100 days as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District. 

Superintendent House has focused his efforts on understanding the state of the district and listening and learning from the community as he charts an exciting future ahead for HISD.

During the summer, House revealed his 90-day plan to introduce several key priorities that HISD and staff were working on in preparation for the upcoming school year.

HISD’s top three goals for the first 90 days were:

  1. Re-engage students in the public education experience, identifying who they are, their needs, and delivering a system to support them.
  2. Ensure safe and orderly school campus openings.
  3. Develop a bold strategic plan that cements a path of innovation and excellence.

In his recent announcement House stated that the plan safely brought back “190,000 students while maintaining one of the lowest rates of active COVID-19 cases in the state of Texas.” The school district developed virtual learning options for over 23,000 students with compromised immune systems and utilized ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds to support student safety, accelerated learning, and social and emotional well-being.

“I joined HISD knowing that while many amazing things are happening in the district, there are areas where we can and must do better for our students and families. As a former athlete, I have an inherent desire to want to win, and that desire holds true in my current role,” House said.  “I want to work with the HISD team – parents, staff and community – to ensure that our students win by receiving the academic and social and emotional supports that they need to thrive and become college and career ready.”

The five key learnings that House shared in his first 100 days announcement are:

  1. Parents, students and the community highly prioritize and desire caring, effective and engaging educators and support staff. The need to develop, recruit and retain effective teachers, principals and support staff was often cited as the most important thing we should focus on as a school district.
  2. There is a widespread desire and imperative to strengthen teaching and learning at all schools. The quality of teaching and learning varies greatly across the district, and differences in curriculum, testing and classroom instruction are leading to inequitable academic outcomes, especially for children who attend more than one HISD campus during their school career.
  3. The community is very proud and supportive of its highly acclaimed schools and magnet programs, but there is a desire and a need for more high-performing schools and specialty programs, especially in underserved communities. Many parents and students expressed that while the district has very high-performing schools and specialty programs, there are areas throughout the city where they do not exist and where the only options that exist are chronically low-performing campuses.
  4. The district offers a wide portfolio of services and resources for students, but these are not always equitably distributed across schools. Student and family experience is very different across campuses and neighborhoods. This includes fundamental services like facilities, libraries, social and mental health services, fine arts education, extracurriculars and access to advanced coursework.
  5. Many families who have children with exceptional needs are frustrated that the district has not lived up to its promise and obligation of providing their children with the services and supportnecessary for them to thrive academically. Students with exceptional needs, including students with disabilities and English language learners, are not realizing their full academic potential.

Laura Onyeneho covers the city’s education system as it relates to Black children for the Defender Network as a Report For America Corps member. Email her at laura@defendernetwork.com

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...