HISD Holds Inaugural Meeting of Hispanic Advisory Committee

Group to advise district on ways to build community engagement and improve student achievement

September 22, 2011

The Houston Independent School District’s Strategic Partnerships Department conducted the first meeting of its Hispanic Advisory Committee at the district’s headquarters on August 16, and almost a dozen Hispanic business and community leaders—along with Board of Education members Manuel Rodríguez and Juliet Stipeche—came to discuss how they could help HISD become the best school district in America.

Superintendent of Schools Terry B. Grier opened up the meeting by sharing some encouraging data with committee members about increasing graduation rates and decreasing drop-out rates among Hispanic students, then asked, “How do we communicate what we’re doing (to the Hispanic community)?”

Committee member Beatrice Garza, who served as the district’s executive general manager of Human Resources until just a few years ago, addressed the issue as both a former employee and the current president and chief executive officer of the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans.

“Your answer is this committee,” she said, explaining that obtaining feedback and advice from community leaders on new district initiatives would help build trust in the community. “You can use this group to incubate these ideas and move forward with them.”

Other topics addressed included the possibility of expanding the successful dual-language program and the need to ensure that Limited English Proficient students are adequately prepared to make a successful transition into English classes no later than the third grade.

“If a child already knows Spanish,” said Board of Education member Manuel Rodríguez Jr., “I’d like that to be seen as an asset, not a hardship.”

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 Hispanic community.

The committee’s next meeting will take place on November 8.