Education News

Farewell to His Army of Educators

Principals and administrators pack the auditorium at Chavez High school before the start of the new school year. It marks the last time they’ll hear from Houston Independent School Superintendent Abe Saavedra before he leaves at the end of the month. It is a bittersweet departure as the district posted its best accountability ratings ever last week. Pat Hernandez has the story.

Saavedra’s final message to the district’s leadership included a review of where it’s been, how far it has come and what the future holds. In February he announced his decision to leave his post as HISD superintendent to explore
new opportunities. The district saw some big gains in accountability ratings. Three out of four schools are either exemplary or recognized, for an urban school system where four out of five children live in poverty. Saavedra told
administrators that he’s leaving the district in good standing, ready to launch to the next level:

“I’ve given it my best. I have worked extremely hard and no one knows better than my wife, how much I’ve given to the job. And, I don’t say this about me, I say this about us because, I know as school administrators you’d do the same.”        

After his speech, Saavedra said who knows what would would have happened if he had played the politics game a little better.

“Let me tell you, I’ve always put the education of kids first, beyond anything. That is my job. I would hope every educator’s able to do that. I understand the importance of the politics, but I’ve never been a person to put the politics in front of what’s in the best interest of kids. I’m not the only one in the district at this point that refuses to play the politics. There’s others in the system as well, and I expect our people in HISD to continue to move the agenda forward, based on whats best for kids.”  

He says he leaves behind an army of people to continue the success of HISD. Principals I talked to say they owe their confidence in Saavedra’s passion for the students. Some called the last meeting him…bittersweet.

Principal: “It really is, because he has done a lot of wonderful things for our school district and we hate to see anybody leave us so, we all wish him well, but we’re gonna miss him.”

Principal: “It’s been a great few, my last five years here at HISD and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Principal: “I kind of wish that I would have the opportunity to work with him as a building principal before but, we’ll see who comes in next and I’m sure they’ll pick a strong candidate and we’ll go from there.”

Saavedra requested that he not have any input into his successor.

“I don’t know what’s next for me, because I’ve not made any decisions on that. I purposely have delayed making any decisions, because I need some down time. I want to take a break, spend time with my family, and then I’ll decide. Maybe by the first of the year, I’ll see what else I do.”

Potential replacements are now being interviewed. A new superintendent of the state’s largest school district could be named within a few weeks or months.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.                

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