Tuesday, May 24, 2005

HISD and Abe Saavedra Success Story

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) made news last year in their efforts to find a new Superintendant. The search became a racial issue when the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) stated the new Super "must be Hispanic". After creating a short list of candidates who were being pushed out of their current jobs, HISD select Abe Saavedra, who himself left Corpus Christi amid a wave of controversy.

I was critical of LULAC's insistence on an Hispanic superintendant. Their logic, ironically enough, was that HISD is a majority Hispanic so the leadership must be Hispanic. Funny how they don't see things this way when Hispanics are the minority). I was also critical of HISD's approach to the hiring, as it was done in a manner that basically ensured Saavedra would get the job.

Fast forward to this year, and it's worth reporting on a major HISD success story. Last fall, Saavedra, along with 500 other volunteers, personally visited dropouts of 8 HISD high schools in what Saavedra calls a "dropout walk". The dropouts were not only asked to come back, but they were asked how the district could help them get back in school. In one instance, as reported by the Houston Chronicle today, the district helped a young mother find a job and arrange health care for her children. She was one of 291 kids who returned to high school as a result of HISD's personal appeal. This weekend, she is graduating from Furr High School along with 47 other students who had previously dropped out.

Congratulations to Saavedra and to HISD for a job very well done. The program will be expanded next year to include dropouts from 16 HISD high schools.

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