The non-profit Children at Risk has been rating schools in the eight county Houston metro area the past five years. Magnet, charter, as well as small-theme-based schools were also recognized. Paula Harris is president of the HISD School Board. She told me the best education in Houston comes from public schools.
“To be able to be 10 deep on a 30 list says that we’re doing some things right, and it’s about the ‘fantabulous’ people we have in those buildings.”
PH: “To have the students engaged with the process. I mean, that’s half the the battle too?”
Harris: “That’s it, and having them show up, and having them access to all the AP and the IB, that there’s no difference, whether you can afford it or not. The district will provide these type of things for you, just to make sure that all of our students have access to the best there is.”
The best high school for the second year in a row was DeBakey High School for Health Professions.
TH Rogers Middle School, which teaches deaf and multiply impaired kids, beat out 265 other campuses to earn the top spot. Principal Dave Muzyka credits his staff for making learning enjoyable.
“Whether we roll to school, we walk to school. Whether we speak through our hands, through our voice, or through a recording device, it’s real important and we have kids that can’t wait to get to school, and that’s enjoyable.”
The budget crunch has forced Muzyka to eliminate 30-positions, a painful predicament, but something he says he can overcome.
“It’s the realities of the budget today. What’s coming down from Austin and what’s coming through the district, and such like that, that’s realities. And so, we’ll deal with it. We’ll do the best we can with what we have. We have incredible kids and incredible staff, and we’ll have to do more with less.”
Walker Station Elementary in Ft. Bend County, was named top elementary school. Dr Bob Sanborn with Children at Risk says some schools rated high in the ranking, did so in neighborhoods where poverty was a big challenge.
“The schools that seemed to overcome that are those that have an extended day, in a longer school day in some way, a longer school year. Those that have a figured out a way to engage parents, which is not an easy thing to do. They do a very good job at that, and that missionary zeal on the part of the teachers. I mean, it’s hard to argue with that.”
The rankings are based on public data from the Texas Education Agency. You can find the complete school rankings list at Children at Risk.org.