ImpactED - Engaging Education Elevating - The Alief ISD Podcast with HD Chambers

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  • Alief ISD Superintendent HD Chambers speaks with guests from all walks of life about issues affecting education and the future of America.

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Episode 54 - Community Garden - Cultivating Student and Community Change



How the Alief Community Garden is benefitting students and the local community

Prior to district closures last spring, Superintendent HD Chambers sat down with Barbara Quattro (chair of the Alief Super Neighborhood Council), Amenda Abi Saab (former Youngblood student and current O'Donnell student) and Erin Gilbert (Youngblood Intermediate School teacher) to discuss the impact of the Alief Community Garden. They discuss how the community came together to develop the garden on the district plot and how Youngblood uses it as an interactive and fun outdoor classroom.

Episode 53 - Action Based Learning - How Exercise Grows Brain Cells



From morning movement to recess, how brains and bodies work together to improve student learning

During the 2019-2020 school year prior to district closures, Superintendent HD Chambers discussed Action Based Learning (ABL) and the importance of movement in an academic setting with Alief ISD Wellness Coordinator Kelley Sullivan and ABL Facilitators Leslie DeRuiter, Cheryl Williams and Courtney Grass. From improved student performance to decreased behavioral issues, they discuss the science behind ABL and why it works.

Episode 52 - Communities In Schools of Houston - Districts Can't Do It Alone



Doing whatever it takes to help students prepare for life

Prior to district closures during the Spring 2020 semester, Lisa Descant (Chief Executive Officer for Communities In Schools of Houston), Syble Ned (CIS Student Support Manager at Klentzman Intermediate School) and Dr. Alvia Baldwin (Alief ISD Director of Guidance & Counseling) sat down with Superintendent HD Chambers to discuss the significance of Communities in Schools of Houston (CIS) in Alief ISD schools. They discuss the importance of CIS's integrated student supports and core services and how the partnership positively impacts students at all grade levels.

Episode 51 - Community Service - Planting the Seed of Philanthropy



How students ranging from elementary to high school can help the local community

Prior to last school year's district closures, Rayne Donahue (Mata Intermediate School student), Jasmine Gonzalez (Elsik High School student) and Jeanette Byrd (Cummings Elementary School principal) sat down in the studio to discuss how students of all ages can give back to the community in various impactful ways.

Episode 50 - COMET Program - How a Community-School Partnership Can End the Teacher Shortage



A district initiative empowering the next generation of educators

During the 2019-2020 school year, Superintendent HD Chambers visited with Oralia Rios-Williams (5Works Executive Director) and Baohan Phi (Alief Taylor High School graduate and current University of Houston College of Education student) on the significance of the COMET Program, a district initiative started by the superintendent. This initiative, which provides after school enrichment to elementary students in both apartment-based sites and school-based sites, has been supported by community organizations, the district, as well as an army of trained high school volunteers. Many of these volunteers return to the district to serve as certified educators or instructional support staff. They discuss what makes this program unique and the joys of teaching, and even learning from, some of our youngest learners.

Episode 49 - Houston Food Bank - Nourishing Stomachs and Minds



How a local partnership provides essential resources to district families and staff

Prior to district closures, Superintendent HD Chambers sat down in the studio with Deborah Nichols (CIS Student Support Manager at Outley Elementary School), Angela Loving (Houston Food Bank School Programs Coordinator) and Dee Jones (Alief ISD Business and Community Partnership Coordinator). The district partners with the Houston Food Bank on various initiatives, including the Backpack Buddy Program, Teachers Aid Program and School Market. They discuss the lasting impact of those initiatives on students, staff and families.

Episode 48 - Automotive Technology - Driving Students to New Heights



Connecting High School Students to High-Paying Careers

Earlier this school year prior to district closures, Superintendent HD Chambers sat down in the studio to discuss workforce readiness with Vivian Vo (Elsik High School Auto Tech Program student), Will Diaz (Alief ISD Auto Tech Program graduate and owner of Engineuity Autowerks) and Julian Mendoza (Alief ISD Auto Tech Program graduate and current Hastings High School Automotive Technology teacher). They dive into the changing Auto Tech industry, the different rewarding job opportunities in the job sector and the importance of the Auto Tech Program in preparing students for the evolving workforce.

Episode 47 - Alief Learns Discussion - Digital and Traditional Learning



Helping students, parents and educators navigate the new learning environments

Kathy Jahn (Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction) and Pam Lowe (Director of Digital Learning) call into the studio to discuss the Alief Learns platform with Superintendent HD Chambers. They discussed how parents, students and educators will access instructional materials to avoid a slide in what students have learned in the 2019-2020 school year.

Episode 46 - Coronavirus - Update on Staffing, Digital Learning and Other Critical Questions



How Alief ISD is moving forward as schools & offices continue to remain closed

HD Chambers and Ava Montgomery (Alief ISD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction) provide an update on how Alief ISD is tackling various issues as schools remain closed. They discuss staffing, salaries, curbside pick-up meals, digital learning, expectations for parents and for staff, and events such as the Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies and prom.

Episode 45 - Coronavirus - Working in Partnership with Parents



How Alief ISD is prepared to continue learning during school closure

Superintendent HD Chambers sits down with Board President Ann Williams and Director of Public Relations Kimberly Smith to discuss Alief ISD's virtual learning plans in the event of extended school closures.

Episode 44 - Family Engagement - It's Never Too Early to Be Actively Engaged



Tips from an award-winning Family Engagement Program

Shanceler Terry (Alief ISD Family and Community Engagement Program Coordinator), Laura Escamilla (Lead Family Liaison) and Yadira Campos (Alief ISD family member and district volunteer) sat down with Superintendent HD Chambers to discuss the increasing importance of families to be actively engaged in their children's lives from an early age.

Episode 43 - Junior Achievement - When Kids Run the World



How real-world simulation helps young students prepare for life beyond PK-12

Superintendent HD Chambers chat with Joseph Burke (President of Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas), Jennifer Baker (Alief ISD CTE Director), Brian Santos (Youngblood Intermediate School student), Zahra White (Youngblood Intermediate School student) and Pam Parrish (Youngblood Intermediate School interventionist). They discuss the impact of Junior Achievement's programs on Alief ISD students, specifically focusing on Biztown, a simulated city where students serve as active, productive citizens of their simulated town.

Episode 42 - Community Partnerships - It Takes More Than A Village



How effective, unique partnerships are meeting critical student needs

Alief ISD is a strong supporter of meaningful relationships with community partners. Superintendent HD Chambers sat down to discuss the different partnerships with Pastor Parris Patrick (Agape Bible Church and Alief Coalition for the Homeless) and Alief ISD's Dee Jones (Business and Community Partnership Coordinator) and Demetria West (Hastings Ninth Grade Center counselor).

Episode 40-41 - 2020 Census/Censo 2020

2020 Census – Help Erase the Undercount



The Importance of the Census and What it Means to Your Tax Dollars

Charles Woods (Alief ISD Deputy Superintendent of Business Services) visits with Superintendent HD Chambers about the Census Undercount. They discuss how over 30 percent of Houston-area households did not respond to the 2010 Census, which results in estimates that Houston will lose nearly $16,000 per citizen in education, emergency and infrastructure funding between 2020 and 2030.


Censo 2020 – Ayuda a combatir la baja participación



La importancia del censo y lo que significa para los dólares que pagas en impuestos

El superintendente adjunto para servicios financieros de Alief ISD, Charles Woods conversa con el superintendente HD Chambers sobre la baja participación en el censo. Nos cuentan como más del 30% de los hogares del área de Houston no respondieron al censo 2010, lo que se estima resultará en pérdidas de casi $16,000 por persona, para la ciudad de Houston, en concepto de educación, servicios de emergencia e infraestructura, entre el 2020 y el 2030.

Episode 39 - Top Workplaces – How the Best Organizations Retain the Best Employees



Alief ISD continues to be a Top Workplace in the Houston area

Alief ISD has been named a Top Workplace for the fourth consecutive year by the Houston Chronicle, the largest local newspaper. Dr. Elizabeth Veloz-Powell (Alief ISD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources), Darrell Alexander (Alief ISD Executive Director of Human Resources) and Kimberly Saunders (Alief ISD Center for Advanced Careers Secretary) dived into the anonymous workplace survey results and why Alief continues to be a highly-ranked employer.

Episode 38 - Professional Learning - When Teachers Become Students



Honing Their Craft and the Shift in Professional Development

Alief ISD Professional Development Coordinator Dr. Tracee Grigsby-Turner and Miller Intermediate School teacher Ebony Kennedy visit with Superintendent HD Chambers about critical components of professional development and learning. They discuss the current professional learning opportunities, including socio-emotional learning, Action Based Learning and how professional learning can help educators with building meaningful relationships with students.

Episode 37 - College Scholarships - How to Catch the Jumbo Shrimp



Preparing High School Students for FAFSA, Scholarships, and Beyond

Superintendent HD Chambers visits with Taylor High School students and staff on the different aspects of college preparation, from how to navigate family discussions about financial aid, to different forms of assistance for college-bound students.

Episode 36 - Fine Arts - Building Confidence Through Quality Fine Arts Programs



Showcasing Alief's Talent through Alief Idol, Alief Proud Day

A special guests calls into the ImpactED studios: Thien An Nguyen, who was the first Alief Idol winner, graduated from Kerr High School this past spring and is currently attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Superintendent HD Chambers chats with Nguyen, Kimberly Smith (Alief ISD Director of Public Relations) and Michelle Lopez (Alief ISD Fine Arts Facilitator) about the significance of fine arts in student learning, the role it plays in fostering a sense of community in schools and the future of arts integration.

Episode 35 - Health Science - Alleviating the Healthcare Workforce Shortage Crisis



How CTE Health Science prepares students for medical school and beyond

Superintendent HD Chambers discusses the significance of the CTE Health Science Program with Elsik High School graduate and current McGovern Medical School student Rachel Obimah and Center for Advanced Careers teacher Courtney Caesar.

Episode 34 - E-Learning – Dynamic Learning Environment through Virtual Classrooms



Offering High-Quality Online Learning Opportunities for All Texas Students

Superintendent HD Chambers chat with Debbie Vincent (Digital Learning Curriculum Specialist & Distance Learning), Pam Lowe (Director of Digital Learning), Kathy Jahn (Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction), Olga Lopez (Hastings High School Library Information Specialist and Distance Learning Facilitator) and Halexandra Alvarenga (Hastings High School student) about the rigorous online course offerings for students and the advantages to the flexible virtual classroom environment.

Episode 33 - Veterinary Science - It’s Not All Puppies, Sunshine, Kitties and Rainbows



How the Veterinary Science Program provides extensive hands-on training for future Certified Veterinary Assistants

Superintendent HD Chambers talk with Jennifer Baker (Alief ISD Career and Technical Education Director), Phyllis Sams (Veterinary Science instructor) and Elizabeth Nguyen (recent Alief ISD graduate and Certified Veterinary Assistant) about the extensive training provided by the Alief ISD Veterinary Science Program and how it prepares students to become Certified Veterinary Assistants.

Episode 32 - Young Voters Make an Impact at the Ballot Box



From voter registration drives to fact-checking, young voters are changing the voter apathy trend

Superintendent HD Chambers sits down with Adrienne Redmon (Hastings Advanced Academics Coordinator), Kydra Hubbard (Albright Social Studies Department Chair) and Gretchen Gaskins (Alief ISD Social Studies Coordinator) and visit about voter engagement at all grade levels.

Episode 31 - After-School Enrichment Programs – Developing the Whole Child



Providing fun, enriching activities year-round for students in Children Interacting Afterschool Program

Superintendent HD Chambers talk to Karla Kessler (Director of Federal Programs and Grants), Tameka Abernathy (Children Interacting Afterschool Coordinator) and Drechelle Edwards (21st Century Community Learning Centers Project Director) about the importance of after-school enrichment and its critical role in giving students the skills to succeed.

Episode 30 - Limited Open Enrollment – Providing Opportunities Beyond District Boundaries



Connecting Prospective Students with Award-Winning, Innovative Programs

Superintendent HD Chambers sit down with Dr. Jackie Armwood (Alief ISD Director of Student Services) and Ava Montgomery (Alief ISD Deputy Superintendent of Instruction) about the district’s new Limited Open Enrollment (LOE) Program. They discuss the advantages of the LOE Program and also address LOE concerns.

Episode 29 - Family Engagement - Community-Building through Home-to-School Connections



How family engagement can transform a community

Superintendent HD Chambers visit with Shanceler Terry (Family and Community Engagement Coordinator), Isaac Eguia (Family Liaison) and Bridget Ojeaga (Alief ISD parent) about the value and challenges of family engagement. They dig into the different levels of family engagement and the importance of using family engagement to strengthen the community and the home-to-school connection.

Episode 28 - Teacher Shortage Leads to “Grow Your Own” Teacher Pipeline



How a CTE Program is working with Human Resources to engage future educators

Superintendent HD Chambers chat with Dr. Elizabeth Veloz-Powell (Alief ISD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources), Andrea Lotsu (Alief Taylor High School teacher) and Angel Anchondo (Alief Taylor High School graduate) regarding Alief's Grow Your Own teacher Program. Anchondo and Lotsu talk about the highlights of the CTE Education and Training Program, the importance of exposure to the teaching profession as a high school student and how to engage future educators.

Episode 27 - Teacher Shortages - Taking Unconventional Approaches to Recruitment



Collaborating with Good Reason Houston, Relay Houston to recruit effective educators

Superintendent HD Chambers discusses the teacher shortage crisis with Maya Weatherton (Relay Houston) and Courtney Isaak (Good Reason Houston). They detail the importance of recruiting qualified individuals to join the teaching profession and what it takes to support these professionals so that they become highly effective teachers.

Episode 26 - Health Services – Filling the Medical Care Gap for All Students



Providing medical services for students in need through exclusive partnerships

Carleen Johnson (Alief ISD Health Services Department) and Shirl Felder (Memorial Hermann School-Based Health Center) talk to Superintendent HD Chambers about how medical professionals go above and beyond year-round to provide much-needed health services to Alief ISD students.

Episode 25 - Gender Equality - When Women Lead, Everything Changes



How female superintendents are empowering the next generation of female leaders

Superintendent HD Chambers sit down with fellow superintendents Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora (Tomball ISD), Dr. LaTonya Goffney (Aldine ISD) and Dr. Kelli Moulton (Galveston ISD). They discuss their paths to becoming superintendents of school districts and the importance of female leadership.

Episode 24 - STEM Education - Where Failure is an Option



Where failure in STEM is a part of the learning process

Superintendent HD Chambers visits with Gelyn Roble (Alief ISD Elementary Science Coordinator) and Betty George (Alief ISD Elementary Science Interventionist) about the intricacies of STEM education, including the challenges of project-based learning, how Alief is supporting STEM educators and information about the district-hosted STEM summer camps.

Episode 23 - School Finance and House Bill 3 - Where Did All the Money Go?



How the Texas legislature's decisions surrounding public school funding can impact your child's education

Superintendent HD Chambers chat with David Thompson (Partner and Thompson & Horton LLP) and Charles Woods (Alief ISD Deputy Superintendent of Business Services) about House Bill 3 and other issues surrounding public school funding.

Episode 22 - Safety & Security - Taking Innovative Measures to Protect Our Schools



School safety through vapor dogs, meaningful relationships and other proactive methods

Alief ISD Police Department Captain Henry Bonaparte and K9 Officer Christopher Sherman talk about the various proactive measures school districts are implementing to improve school safety, such as innovative trainings, vapor dogs, community policing and other methods.

Episode 21 - Creating College-Bound Students



Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Program

Superintendent HD Chambers talked to Tracy Scholz (Alief ISD Advanced Academics Coordinator) and two Alief ISD AVID high school students regarding the district's Advanced Academics Program. They covered the many aspects of advanced academics, including the gifted and talented program, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), college dual credit opportunities and other advanced academics offerings.

Episode 20 - Martellus Bennett - Watering the Dreams of Our Youth



"Kids today are the landscapers of tomorrow, and I want a beautiful yard."

Alief ISD graduate Martellus Bennett returns home to speak with Superintendent HD Chambers about his third children's book, Dear Black Boy. Bennett, a former NFL star, Super Bowl champ and founder of The Imagination Agency, talks about the importance of children of color to aspire to become more than just athletes.

Episode 19 - Early Childhood Round Table - Believe It or Not, High Level Academics Start in Pre-K



Alief ISD prepares to roll out a full-day Pre-Kindergarten pilot at select elementary schools

Alief ISD elementary principals Jeanette Byrd (Cummings Elementary School) and Mary Kesler (Hicks Elementary School) chat with Kathy Jahn (Alief ISD Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction) and Superintendent HD Chambers about the preparations underway to pilot a full-day Pre-Kindergarten Program at select Alief ISD schools.

Episode 18 - CTE - Preparing Students for Jobs that Don't Exist Yet



How Alief ISD is using its state-of-the-art program to prepare students for jobs of the future

Superintendent HD Chambers chats with Jennifer Baker (Director of Career and Technical Education) and Kimberly Crow (Alief ISD Director of Career and Technical Education and Innovation) in the Center for Advanced Careers. They discuss how Alief ISD prepared for the state-of-the-art facility, how partnerships are supporting student learning and how middle and high schools are preparing students for the workforce.

Episode 17 - CITGO - How STEM partnerships power learner-centered education



Preparing Students for Future STEM Careers - CITGO Innovative Academy at Olle Middle School

Superintendent HD Chambers welcomes Larry Elizondo (CITGO General Manager of Community Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility and Legislative Affairs) and Nelda Billescas (Olle Middle School Principal) to talk about how the CITGO Innovative Academy at Olle Middle School illustrates an exemplary example of how businesses can support student learning.

Episode 16 - Accountability - When schools and districts are graded using the flawed STAAR test



Do the accountability ratings truly reflect how districts and schools are doing?

Dee Carney (Moak, Casey & Associates) joins a candid conversation about accountability and its impact on Texas public schools with Natalie Martinez (Alief ISD Director of Accountability, Assessment and Attendance) and Superintendent HD Chambers.

Episode 15 - Is the STAAR test designed for your child to fail?



Experts agree the test actually measures whether a student is performing above grade level

Alief ISD's Elementary and Secondary Language Arts staff break down the complex issues surrounding literacy in the state and how the state of Texas is using an assessment that is not grade-level appropriate to penalize students, educators and schools.

Episode 14 - Choice Programs in Public Schools - A Launching Pad for Opportunities



How students are choosing to their own future education and career path while still in middle school

Superintendent HD Chambers visits with Alief ISD high school students who decided to pursue special high school programs while still in middle school.

Students in the Life Sciences Innovative Academy and in the Alief Early College High School will graduate with an associate's degree from Houston Community College prior to receiving their high school diploma from Alief ISD. Students in the Alief International Academy are taught to think critically, engage globally and thrive competitively, while Kerr High School offers students the opportunity to work in a non-traditional, self-managed learning environment similar to college.

Students from these alternative learning environments visit with the superintendent about the benefits of the programs, what they have learned and their future aspirations.

Episode 13 - Early Childhood Round Table - Teaching Young Learners Today for a Better Tomorrow



Exploring how non-profits and school districts are partnering with families to tackle early childhood issues

Dr. Julie Baker Finck of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and Alief ISD Early Childhood Facilitator Mari Martinez visit with Superintendent HD Chambers for the latest episode of ImpactED. They dive into the science of early childhood education, how to empower families with the knowledge and resources to educate early learners and how different early childhood initiatives are working together to educate children even before they register for Pre-Kindergarten.

Episode 12 - International Management District and Stantec - The Melting Pot Paradigm Shift



Learning how to listen to the pulse of a diverse community

Superintendent HD Chambers vists with Natali Hurtado (International Management District) and Robert Moser (Stantec) about community planning and the upcoming changes expected in this international community.

Episode 11 - Principal Tremayne Wickliffe - Re-Engaging Troubled Students



How an alternative school is using inventive methods to educate and engage

Tremayne Wickliffe is the principal of Crossroads, a disciplinary alternative education program in Alief ISD in Houston, Texas. He sits down with Superintendent HD Chambers to discuss the joys and challenges of working with troubled students.

Episode 10 - Neil Bush - Literacy, Legacy and Learning



Neil Bush shares his views on the effects of literacy

Mr. Chambers speaks with Neil Bush, chairman of Points of Light and co-chairman of the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, as he navigates through his own personal struggles with literacy, his mother's legacy and views on the future of learning in schools.

Episode 9 - Greater Houston Partnership - Does Success Require a College Degree



The Greater Houston Partnership explains the future of Houston's economy

Bob Harvey and Peter Beard from the Greater Houston Partnership join a discussion with Superintendent HD Chambers about the employment outlook in the greater Houston area, including the data illustrating the jobs of the future.

Episode 8 - Mental Health Round Table - Today's Epidemic and What You Should Know



Counselors and other mental health professionals discuss the state of mental health within public schools

Alief ISD counselors and mental health professionals sit down with Superintendent HD Chambers to discuss the state of mental health in schools. Today, mental issues have increased significantly due to societal changes, increased use of technology and other stress factors. Listen and find out how to identify a mental health crisis and where to seek help.

Episode 7 - Nutrition Round Table - America's Addiction to Fat, Salt and Sugar



How districts are keeping students healthy despite America's addiction to fat, salt and sugar

School districts often cook millions of meals for hungry students each school year. It costs some school districts millions of dollars to serve healthy meals; districts agree that it is expensive to be healthy.
Alief ISD Nutrition Department staff members chat with Superintendent HD Chambers on the challenges of keeping students healthy while combating childhood hunger and providing tasty meals and snacks to students. They discuss the strategies to educate students about healthy eating and explore how proper nutrition can positively impact student learning.

Episode 6 - Scott McClelland - Why Investing in Public Education is Vital to America's Future



How one grocery chain has partnered with school districts to fast-track changes in public education

Scott McClelland, President of H E B grocery company's Houston Food/Drug Division, sits down with Superintendent HD Chambers to discuss the future of public education and its effects on employment. The two cover the importance of addressing dire education concerns, from early childhood and career pathways to keeping strong teachers in the classroom and how other businesses can support public education as a means to bolster the economy.

Episode 5 - Education Round Table - Teacher Shortages



Diving into the teacher shortage crisis & how districts and colleges are partnering to combat the issue

After years of the government underfunding public school education and other attacks on the teaching profession, there is now a shortage of highly-qualified teachers in America. University of Houston's College of Education Dean Robert McPherson and Alief ISD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Elizabeth Veloz-Powell speak with Superintendent HD Chambers about the challenges of attracting quality college graduates to enter and remain in the teaching profession. Chambers also sits down with Michele Pena, an educator actively juggling her classroom responsibilities, part-time jobs and extra teacher duties.

Episode 4 - A Conversation with HD - Looking Forward After the Mid-Term Elections



How educators can remain engaged in the political process

Jessika Leal, Executive Assistant to Alief ISD Superintendent HD Chambers, sits down with the superintendent post-election to discuss what's next, how educators can remain engaged in the political process and how policies can impact their daily lives.

Episode 3 - Military Veterans & Current ROTC Student - Serving Your Country & Community



How veterans are serving as educators and preparing students for military service

Elsik High School teacher, Army veteran and nationally-acclaimed soccer coach Vincenzo Cox and Marines veteran Major Jerome Stovall talk to Superintendent HD Chambers about how they use their military experience to educate the next generation of service men and women. A current Alief ISD student talks about his JROTC training and how it is preparing him for the armed forces.

Episode 2 - Principals - Building Relationships & Defying Critics



How elementary public school leaders are championing their teachers & students despite all odds

Robin Human and Johanna Sanchez are elementary school principals in Alief ISD in Houston, Texas. Between the two of them, they have nearly 30 years of experience leading public schools. They sit down with Superintendent HD Chambers to discuss the joys and challenges of leading a school.

Episode 1 - Professor Stephen Klineberg - Demographics, Attitudes & Their Impact on Education



What the Kinder Institute Houston Area Survey reveals about education

Stephen Klineberg is a demographics expert and sociologist in Houston, Texas. As a professor at Rice University, Klineberg and his students began conducting an annual survey in 1982, now called the Kinder Institute Houston Area Survey. The survey tracks the area’s demographics and attitudes. He joins a discussion about historical demographics in Houston, Texas and its effects on education.