HISD Holds Inaugural Meeting of African-American Advisory Committee

Group to advise district on strengthening community engagement and improving student achievement

July 14, 2011

The Houston Independent School District’s Strategic Partnerships Department conducted the first meeting of its African-American Advisory Committee at the district’s headquarters on July 13, and more than half a dozen African-American business and community leaders came to discuss how they could help HISD become the best school district in America by working within their communities.

The purpose of the committee is to advise and support HISD in strengthening and encouraging public support of HISD schools, improving student achievement, and increasing parental and community involvement within the African-American community. The committee will meet on a quarterly basis and will be informed of important district issues, including those impacting the district’s African-American student population.

Among the many topics discussed were the need for better communication with district stakeholders and plans to improve student achievement at six traditionally African-American high schools.

“I think it’s very important to reach out to members of our community,” said HISD Superintendent of Schools Terry B. Grier, because “I see all of these children as my children. We are making some real progress, but having said that, we also have some real challenges.”

“I’m encouraged by the fact that there’s this kind of dialogue,” said committee member James Anderson, executive associate to the chancellor at the University of Houston. “Each one of us brings something to the table.”

At the meeting’s conclusion, Dr. Grier pledged to provide committee members with information they had requested, such as district performance data to share with their constituents and the School Improvement Plans created for each of the six underperforming historically African-American high schools. The superintendent also said he would be expanding HISD’s efforts to support principals in marketing and promoting their schools to increase student enrollment.

The Strategic Partnerships Department will also launch an Hispanic Advisory Committee later this summer. An Asian Advisory Committee has been in existence for several years.

The African-American Advisory Committee’s next meeting will take place on September 14.