“I am running because I feel called. I feel a powerful burden to do more to contribute to the success of children and families. And the last 20 years have prepared me for service for a time like this.” - Matt
When my son, Benjamin, was born 17 years ago, I made a commitment to be the best parent I could be. Realizing I didn’t know anything about parenting, I sought the guidance of other parents in my community, whose children represented what I wanted to be true for my own. Third Ward neighbors like Mary P., Arva H., Maria C., Dr. Bob A., and Dana T., coached and guided me. Their help, plus continued help from teachers and family, helped me to produce what I believe to be successful, happy children, two of whom are straight A-students in HISD high schools.
Along the way, something happened. People began asking for my advice. They saw our kids’ progress and wanted help doing the same with their own children. First, it was a few parents. Then a few turned into opportunities to share parenting guidance with thousands of parents. Over the last 7 years in my work with parents, three things were abundantly clear:
ALL parents believed education was important to their children’s success
ALL parents were concerned about their children’s academic performance in school
Many of the children, whose parents I was supporting, were WAY behind in reading and math
Parents were hesitant or felt ill-equipped to advocate for their children in support of their success.
In 2013, I created a free service called the Educational Makeover to give low-income parents a resource for navigating their kids to the best possible educational outcomes. This service coaches parents on the thousands of small and large decisions they must make to assure their child’s success. Things like:
How to build a healthy relationship with your child’s teacher.
How to get kids to love literature — yes, even for boys!
What should kids do over the summer to improve educational success.
I am convinced that one of the best ways we ensure better outcomes for our students is by helping parents know how to work with schools to get the best education for their children.
My Preparation to Serve
Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked with parents, to help them succeed. But I have also been invited to sit on the boards of seven educational institutions that cover the entire educational spectrum. From a federally-funded Head Start program that serves more than 3,000 students, to a selective public college called Truman University, to everything in between — public, private, and public charter. I have seen the entire educational pathway from PreK through university and have seen what works from the board-level.
During this time, I also learned what works from the community level. In addition to navigating my own children and helping others do the same, I have seen the growing diversity of school offerings that are available to families. Every parent knows that each child is unique — and schools are beginning to offer unique programs and models that better fit the unique needs of kids. Education systems around the country are creating schools for kids who have interests in science and technology, entrepreneurship, vocational trades, art, medicine, law, sports, foreign language, business, and many many other areas. We also are seeing kids who want the more traditional middle and high school experience. Why can’t HISD offer all of this within it’s system? It can. It must.
No more should students and parents feel that they have to look outside of HISD to find what they want and need. HISD can offer these same schools within its umbrella.
I have learned that successful school systems have boards and communities who work together to build an inescapable ecosystem of success for students. The Houston region has every imaginable resource to generate success but we do not systematically tap those resources for the benefit of our students. My professional and volunteer experience shows a 20-year commitment to collaboration. A commitment to pursuing outcomes that matter and I am running for HISD school board to continue that work.
Focus on Outcomes
HISD’s success will take the entire community of parents, teachers, students and trustees to ensure long-term student success.
There are several skills that kids need before they enter kindergarten.
Current reality: fewer than half of HISD’s students meet the standard.
Third Grade Reading Level
A student’s third grade reading level is a strong predictor for later success.
Current reality: less than 40% of 3rd grade students in HISD are on grade level.
College and career Readiness
College readiness is assessed based on national exams like the SAT and ACT.
Current reality: less than 50% of HISD’s seniors are graduating ready for college.