Mario Gallegos Goes Off on Terry Grier at Senate Education Hearing

Categories: Education

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Mario & Terry: Can two grown men share a city without driving each other crazy?
Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier went all the way to Austin to testify before the Texas Senate Committee on Education, only to be ripped apart by Sen. Mario Gallegos, who continues to not like much of anything about how Grier does his job.

Proclaiming that it's not true that he doesn't like Grier because after all he doesn't know him, Gallegos told Grier, "I do have problems with the way you run HISD."

Gallegos questioned Grier on why in a budget crisis he was pouring so much money into the Apollo 20 turnaround program for low-performing schools, why he has gone to a School Information Officer administrative approach that Gallegos said "failed" in at least two other districts run by Grier and why the superintendent didn't close his laptop and look speakers in the face at last week's public hearing in Houston on possible changes to the magnet program.

"I would suggest that when those parents come up to that mike that the computer you have in front of you, that you would put that to the side, close it and listen to those parents and what they have to say,"" he said. "They pay you $350,000 a year plus perks, almost more than the president of the United States. I would think that deserves your time...to listen to those people because they pay your salary...You should at least have the respect to turn that computer off."

Gallegos was so relentless in listing what he sees as Grier's failings that at one point a fellow committee member tried to intercede, suggesting the two men should meet together separately to work things out. Gallegos said they did have a later meeting planned, and then went on, saying he wanted "to have my say in public."

Given the "dire financial straits" of the state, Gallegos said he thinks "the Apollo 20 program should be put on hold and spread the money around" to other schools in the district. The senator asked Grier how much General Fund money has been spent on Apollo 20, to which Grier responded: "We have not spent any General Fund money to date on those schools," adding: "I'm not saying that we won't have to before the end of the school year."

District trustees did vote in April to spend $1.3 million in General Fund money on the 11 elementaries that will be added to the Apollo pilot project in the fall, but that is in next year's budget.

Grier's move to the system of School Information Officers and away from HISD's traditional regional superintendents was a system that failed in two other districts run by Grier, Gallegos asserted. "You have brought a small school district system into a large school district system. That has not worked. That's why San Diego got rid of it."

Gallegos also wanted to know why HISD isn't dipping into the $84 million "rainy day fund" the district is holding in reserve to maintain the district's magnet programs and why it hasn't considered other programs that he said don't work as well. (Although Grier has put off making any changes in the magnets until September.)

The Gallegos-Grier exchange begins at about two hours and 55 minutes into the committee hearing.

Contacted in Houston, HISD spokesman Jason Spencer said Grier would have no further public comment concerning his public conversation with the senator.

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Parent of HISD graduate
Parent of HISD graduate

Do the parents of HISD students know that Apollo 20 is, basically, a research project utilizing Harvard University tenants and that another set of schools are the "control group."Teachers are going to lose their jobs for a 3 year data collection and study project? Sure, Apollo 20 schools may improve with all the tutoring. Give the tutoring to the students without the Apollo 20 management by fear tactics - especially since the SIO's didn't work in other Grier damaged districts. Why isn't Mr. Q. X. concerned about this since the correlation between poor education and crime are hand-in-hand. Why are schools that are at the TEA "Recognized" status in Apollo 20.

bubu
bubu

Well put, Senator. Well put indeed.

UziGal
UziGal

HISD is a failed institution that must be destroyed. "Economies of scale" do not exist in urban public school districts. Larger size breeds more corruption and higher per pupil expenditures with ever worsening academic results. It MUST be broken up into 4 or 5 ISD's.

Speakerbox
Speakerbox

Thank you Senator for doing the job our clueless board refuses to do. Paula Harris, enjoy your one term. On this subject you are the talk of third ward and it isn't good.

Feckw
Feckw

You'd think such an attack might engender a defensive counter, or at least an utterance of priorities, and why he's doing what he does.

I hate when educators go silent, while preaching expression and debate and transparency.Is there something that a response would high-jinks? Why no comment?

Richard Doll
Richard Doll

We need to fire Grier and everyone involved in hiring the failure. Gallegos has a good point regarding the disrespect Grier showed parents by working in his laptop and not listening to them. What an arrogant SOB.

Voter and Taxpayer
Voter and Taxpayer

Thank you, Senator Gallegos.It's time for this failed carpetbagger to leave.

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