A new superintendent has taken over the reins at the Houston Independent School District. At the end of July, trustees tapped Richard Carranza for the job and he was officially welcomed to the job on Thursday.
News 88.7 Education Reporter Laura Isensee recently talked with him prior to his arrival to Houston about what he's done in his current role as superintendent in San Francisco, where he comes from, and his personal background.
Here are five highlights:
- Why he worked to reduce suspensions in San Francisco: “If we say that we believe that the best place for a child is in a classroom, it would seem logical then that when a student who is developing their sense of self, a student who is developing as a human being, does something that’s anti-social — and I’m not talking criminal, but I’m talking anti-social, is not behaving — that we would, as an educational system, then find a way to educate that student to understand and accept responsibility for their behavior and make right whatever damage they’ve done.”
- How he increased the number of bilingual graduates in San Francisco: “One of the first steps is the board of trustees and the district and the community saying we value language and we value language diversity. Then in the school system, you build programs, and you build pathways so that students have access to learning, in a deep way, another language. “
- How playing mariachi music shaped him: “It’s really shaped me because from a very young age I was in front of audiences performing. I had to prepare to be in front of an audience and trying to connect with an audience … For me, it was also an expression of my cultural identity.”
- What he likes to read: “One of the books that I just finished reading was a book by Paulo Coehlo. I’ve also just finished a book by Daniel Siegel, which is called Brainstorm. And it basically talks about how humans think and how the thinking process actually materializes in childhood, adolescence and then the adult … I’m a history teacher so I like reading historical novels, historical books.”
- What his first goal as HISD superintendent will be: “One of the things that I’m trying to do right now – understanding that I’m not yet the superintendent in Houston – is try to gather as much information as possible … The number one challenge that we need to rally around is the whole issue of recapture (with the state’s school finance system). And from a state-wide perspective, really get into the Legislature and make sure that our legislators understand what some of the downsides of recapture are, especially in a school system like Houston, where over 80 percent of the kids are free and reduced lunch, economically disadvantaged. Yet you have weights and triggers around recapture that may not be well done. And it’s going to negatively impact a district like Houston that has real needs.”