HISD Board unanimously names one finalist for Superintendent

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HOUSTON, TX-- HISD students better start practicing rolling their R's. Come the new school, looks like they could have a new superintendent, Richard Carranza.

Wednesday, the HISD board of trustees unanimously named the San Francisco Unified School District superintendent the sole finalist for the position. They say, because of his proven leadership doing the same job in San Francisco since 2012.

"Mr. Carranza is accustomed to dealing with kids from all backgrounds," said HISD trustee Jolanda Jones, "and he appreciates the uniqueness of those kids."

If he is approved (and how can he not be?), what can we expect? For one, a greater push for music programs. Carranza is known to bust out a guitar and sing mariachi at the drop of a sombrero. As a teacher in Tucson, he founded a mariachi music program and went on to start a dozen more at schools in San Francisco.

"In education, if you can have someone that appreciates and truly understands the arts in addition to all the other things that have to be done," said HISD trustee Harvin C. Moore, " then I think that's going to be a positive for the kids."

"For those people who say there shouldn't be this kind of music or musical arts in our schools," Carranza told a crowd earlier this year, "all I have to say to them: '¿Y que? (And what?!)'"  He then joked, "For those of you that don't speak Spanish, I just said, 'Thank you very much for your opinion.'"

Carranza entered kindergarten not speaking English, so expect him to really focus on bringing English-language learners up to the same level as everyone else.

"If we truly believe that public education is for the public, for all students," he told Education Week last year, "then we can't treat students equally. We have to treat them equitably. So giving students what they need to reach the goal... the aspirational goals that we have."

In San Francisco, that's meant pushing more funds toward low-scoring schools to help lift them up. Doing so, he said in 2013, benefits all Americans, "A well-educated populace that is diverse-- the melting pot, the salad bowl-- that's our strength. That's what makes us innovative."

He's big on social justice, which will serve us well, considering 76% of HISD students are economically disadvantaged. "I wanna see us eliminate the achievement gap," he told San Francisco urban radio station KMEL, "I wanna make sure that every student has not only the opportunity but has the skills, when they graduate from school, to decide what they want to do. Whether they want to go to college (or) they want to go in the work force, they get to make the decision. The system hasn't made the decision for them."

Let's hope Carranza will bring that same "gusto" to HISD!