Ben & Sarah Becker
Ben and Sarah Becker are Houston ISD parents who have three small children, two of whom are old enough to attend Houston ISD schools. Ben runs his own management consultancy, and Sarah is a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology.
They have always been interested in education policy, but in early 2015 they became increasingly concerned about high stakes testing as they saw the impact it was having on their oldest daughter’s education, even though she was only in three-year-old pre-kindergarten at the time. That lead them to their first HISD school board meeting, and they quickly realized that there were many other concerning issues with the district's management. They continued to show up to board meetings and frequently make speeches advocating for or against items on the board’s agenda.
After having so many conversations with fellow parents who wanted to know more about the school board, the senior administrators in the district and the decisions that were being made each month that impact their kids, they launched HISD Parent Advocates to make it easy for parents to stay informed about the district and demand a voice in the decisions that run it.
Ben and Sarah do this through short video recaps of board meetings and provide commentary about board policy and decisions on their blog.
HISD Parent Advocates doesn't claim to be unbiased. We are independent and unpaid, but not unbiased. We aren’t journalists. We are concerned parents who have values that inform the policies we expect to see in our public schools and in the leadership that runs them.
Some of those are values are...
We believe democratically elected school boards that are accountable to voters should be running our schools.
We believe there is inherent conflict with trustees accepting money from vendors or those seeking to do business with HISD.
We believe it is important for the school board to be independent from the administration.
We believe that a focus on the “whole child” means that standardized test scores and college entrance exams are not the only “student outcomes” that matter and are just a part and not necessarily the most important part to determining successful schools.
We believe that the magnet program should be used for its original purpose which is integration.
We believe that teaching is a sacred profession which is deserving of a career investment by both teachers and districts. Career teachers in the classroom are the best people to identify and maximize the potential of our children.
We believe in the elimination of the high stakes attached to standardized testing, including but not limited to principal and teacher evaluations, student promotion, and the labeling of schools as “failing” or “improvement required.” We believe that norm-referenced standardized tests provide valuable insight into the performance of school systems as well as provide diagnostic information to teachers and administrators about an individual child—data best used in conjunction with other information when making decisions about a child’s education.