Houston local’s work leads to victories for educators in school board races

Our local affiliate for Houston ISD—the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT)—scored another win in its effort to elect a school board that backs its students and teachers with sound education policy after the union helped elect two educators as trustees in Saturday’s runoff election.

Sergio Lira and Elizabeth Santos were both victorious in the runoff, and they follow general election winners also backed by HFT—board members Wanda Adams, Anne Sung and Holly Flynn Vilaseca.

Santos is an English literature teacher at Northside High School, and Lira is a former teacher and an assistant principal at Bellaire High School. With the sweep of seats in the election and support from other school board members, HFT now is ready to work with a solid majority of the board.

“Houston families and voters sent a clear message on Nov. 7 and in the runoff that they value the voices of frontline educators and will stand with candidates who embrace community-driven solutions to the challenges that face our schools,” said HFT President Zeph Capo. “Houston families want more investment in community schools that bring social, medical and housing services right to families affected by Hurricane Harvey, rather than more testing and state control. We believe that HISD schools should be safe, welcoming places for all students no matter what district they live in. HFT stands ready to work with Superintendent Richard Carranza, the HISD trustees, community partners and Houston families to strengthen our schools moving forward.”

HFT’s work–part of a collaborative effort with Texas AFT and AFT national–provides a clear example of how local unions can help elect school-board candidates that value input from educators.

AFT President Randi Weingarten also followed the election closely and commented: “Houston now has a school board committed to ensuring Houston families continue to have local control over their public schools, with an agenda for student success. These results are just the latest from elections across the country, from Douglas County, Colo., to Cincinnati, where voters are overwhelmingly choosing public education over privatization for their children and communities, and to invest in those schools, not efforts to defund and destabilize them.”