It seems like the kids just got out of school yesterday, but today it’s time for them to go back to school if they are in HISD. Every year, we as parents, have great expectations as to what we hope our children will achieve over the next 9 months. We hope they will have teachers that will nurture their learning and growth. We hope they will have friends that are good influences. We hope they will succeed. We place our kids in the hands of the schools and teachers for 8 hours a day, and from the first day of school until the very last, we spend each day navigating and advocating for them through the maze of HISD. This is the exact path that Rhonda Skillern-Jones has had to take with her kids, which is why she is a perfect fit as the President of the HISD Board of Education.
HISD Board of Education
The Board of Education is the official policy-making body of the Houston Independent School District and it is made up of nine trustees, elected from separate districts, that serve staggered four-year terms. In a nutshell, this is what the Board of Education does:
- Make policies for HISD according to State regulations.
- Supervises the Superintendent of HISD.
- Takes care of the fiscal matters of the district.
- Sets yearly goals to be carried out by the Superintendent.
- Evaluates whether the goals are being met.
HISD Board of Education President
The HISD Board of Education President serves out a one year term and sets out the yearly goals that he or she wants to achieve. These goals are voted on at the meetings by the other Board members, and when the goals are all set and agreed upon, those are the goals that are the focus of that President’s term. The term of the President runs from December – December, and the goals under the leadership of Rhonda Skillern-Jones are as follows:
- No school closures.
- To ensure no employees of HISD make less than $10/hour.
- To up awareness and consciousness of bullying among the workplace and between employees and to make this a policy.
- To ensure any contracts approved or renewed all have metrics around them about how they are evaluated and to have standards that are measured before the contracts are renewed. To appropriate a percentage of those contracts to minorities and women.
- To ensure all buildings and mascots are respectful to all citizens.
- To increase student achievement.
Of these goals that have been set out, every one of them has been met and made, but one, and Rhonda Skillern-Jones is very passionate about that one.
Rhonda Skillern-Jones is a mother of 5. She is educated with a Masters Degree, and she understands the frustration of HISD. When she was a stay at home mom, she had 5 children who were all different learners and all had different abilities, so she had to navigate the public school system, the charter school system and the private school system. She saw how it worked and the inequities that were there, especially for parents who didn’t have time to navigate the system and learn which paths were best for the children and she wanted to create change.
She started by attending HISD Board of Education meetings and volunteering at her district level on committees. As she became more involved, she was asked to be on the Board and now represents District 2, which has not only the lowest economic neighborhood, but the most affluent neighborhood as well. Ms. Skillern-Jones is dynamic. She exudes a quiet calm and a confidence that is fierce. She is passionate about her beliefs, and the fact that she is resolute in what she wants for the students of HISD makes her a hero in our book and #justvibing.
Why we think Rhonda Skillern-Jones is #JustVibing
She isn’t a fan of the STAR test. Although the STAR test generates revenue for the district, Skillern-Jones knows that many teaching careers hinge on the STAR test, in terms of bonuses and jobs, and that teachers feel the pressure to teach to the test and not to the learning of the students. She does believe that there needs to be a standardized test, just not one that carries such high stakes and needs test preparation.
She believes in going back to traditional learning and believes that is what is missing from the classrooms. Teachers need to teach concepts, and that the innovation that we are trying to put in the classrooms is detracting from the learning and that it’s time to get back to basics.
If there were one change she could make within HISD she would centralize the system and equitably allocate resources to all the schools.
She realizes that there isn’t one specific thing that HISD does so well that doesn’t need to be changed, even with the positive things that they do. She does love how they comes together as a team and fight for the kids in the legislative arena and believes that power speaks well for HISD in Austin.
And, in her own words…
If we are going to continue our goal of long term economic viability within our city, then we have to enact change to ensure that all our children are educated so they can be contributors to the city of Houston.