Speaking to a sold-out crowd of about 2,000 Thursday afternoon at the Hilton Americas Hotel in downtown Houston, Dr. Grier praised the courage and hard work of HISD's principals, teachers and staff at a time when the Texas legislature has cut funding to Houston schools. Those cuts have left HISD with 835 fewer teachers this school year and forced students to go without field trips, school nurses, librarians, art teachers, and P.E. coaches, Dr. Grier said.
"We're proud of the schools that reliably produce graduates prepared to excel in college and in the workplace. But we also know that too many of our schools don't fit into that category," Dr. Grier told the crowd. "We must be able to look every parent in the eye and tell them we'd be proud to send our own children to any school in Houston."
Dr. Grier said the district has implemented several initiatives in recent years that aim to correct the problem of uneven performance among HISD schools. He specifically mentioned how efforts to improve the quality of teachers in every classroom has resulted in more than 90 percent of the district's high-performing teachers returning to work each year; how expanding access to college-level Advanced Placement courses at every HISD high school has led to a 35 percent jump the number of AP exams passed by Houston students; and how the Apollo 20 school turnaround program has produced results on par with the nation's top charter schools.
He also discussed how the district will continue to strive to bring high academic achievement to every school and how HISD's projects to rebuild buildings and open new campuses are being completed on time and on budget.
Complete transcripts of the remarks delivered at the 2012 State of the Schools luncheon are posted online here.