HISD Payola


Pay to Play, HISD


The Houston school district, desperate to get grades and test scores up, is offering cold, hard cash to fifth graders who do their math homework. A kid who masters a bunch of "concepts" can rack up $440 from HISD.

That can buy a whole lot of...books extolling math as a fun, profitable adventure.

It all seems a little crass, but if you're going to get into the bribery game, jump in all the way. Here are five more programs HISD should be considering:

1. Banana Bucks

Hey kid, you don't want some sugary, fatty candy bar, do you? You want a banana!! Oh — you'd rather have the candy bar? There's five bucks in it for you if you go banana...Come on, it almost tastes like candy. Okay, ten bucks? Fifteen?

2. TAKS Twenties

If you've got a kid who can ace the TAKS test, and a couple of others who can't, how's that helping your school win teacher and staff bonuses? Answer: It isn't.

So why not let that smart kid, say, offer his generous help to colleagues who may need it? Nothing special, just filling in a bubble or two. Let's say 20 bucks for each passing test and we'll call it even, all right?

3. More than Money

HISD also proposes to pay parents for attending parent/teacher conferences, which only makes sense since you go to three or four of those and it's hours of "blah blah blah not handing in assignments blah blah late for class blah blah setting classmates on fire" and you can't help but tune out.

Money would be great, of course, but why not go one better? Throw in a 57-inch HDTV in the corner, some Buds in a bucket and ESPN. You and the wife can then yap all you want about "read to her every night" and all that educational mumbo-jumbo. A little pizza wouldn't go amiss, either.

4. Pay the Players

Every year HISD sends lots of football players to schools in the SEC and Big 12. They're going to be getting plenty of cash handouts in Baton Rouge and Austin, so why not start now? HISD, you're always talking about having a "college culture" to prepare kids for the higher education experience. What better way than to get them used to the ins and outs of a no-receipt lifestyle?

5. Bonus Tuesdays

A lot of people will hear about paying kids to study, or parents to show up at a meeting, and say, "Isn't that paying someone for something they should be doing on their own?"

You could argue the point all day long (we guess), or you could just run with it.

Tuesdays: Does the kid come in with both arms properly inserted into shirtsleeves? Five bucks. Sneakers on his feet, not tied around his wrist? Buck fifty. Gets through the entire day without eating his boogers? A tenner. Without eating someone else's boogers? Slip that sophisticated gent a Hamilton.

Think big, HISD. Run with this for all it's worth.


Rice Officials Duck KTRU Hearing

By Jack Wehman

Rice students and KTRU fans got yet another setback at a recent meeting. Amidst a packed crowd of students, members of KTRU staff and loyal listeners, everyone with a question voiced their opinions and frustrations. The only problem was the lack of an administration ear to hear the comments.

Although the station manager, Joey Yang, was mediating the discussion and answering questions, there were simply two empty chairs next to him with nameplates labeled "Administration Representative" for the entire hour. Early in the meeting, Yang apologized for the lack of presence, saying, "Thank you all for showing up, and I apologize if you wanted to be heard."

Without skipping a beat, an audience member shouted back, "They're scared!"

And it seems that the random shouter was right. Yang said that four specific administrators had been invited — and all refused in one form or another. David Leebron, president of Rice, and Linda Thrane, Rice's vice president for public affairs, both turned down their invitations. Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson and Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby simply didn't respond to the invite, preferring to let the empty chairs speak for themselves.

"After they turned us down, we sent an e-mail to the president's office asking any administrator to come; no one showed up," Yang said.

However the administration feels, no one is giving in just yet. Last night almost every seat in the room was taken — and there were another 50 people lining each wall of the auditorium. There are already plans in place to hold another support protest if the staff continues to push KTRU's sale forward.

There's a "Save KTRU" show being held at Fitzgerald's on Sept. 24. If the KTRU transmitter is shut down, there will be another rally.

No one can say the station's supporters aren't trying. The question is, are all of these efforts going to be wasted? When asked about the chances of realistically overturning the sale, Yang replied, "We don't know (the odds). We've heard it's a done deal; we've been told there's hang-ups. We were told it could be (shut down) in 24 hours, then in a week. It's been two weeks now."


There is a ton of new stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you’re only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or “/rocks” or “/eating”) and under “Tools” on the top-right side of the page, use the “categories” drop-down menu to find these stories:

Art Attack

We talked with James Black, longtime Alley Theatre actor and director of the company's provocative season opener A Behanding in Spokane by In Bruges writer-director Martin McDonagh. Actor Andrew Weems, who plays the grab-challenged main character, admitted he often utilizes deprivation in the roles he accepts. The Angelika Film Center suddenly closed, leaving frustrated moviegoers searching for answers, as well as speculation and debate on the state of indie/alternative art in Houston.

We ran some disturbing images of a woman wearing a smoked-salmon mask and a car with a mustache as we ticked down five of the most bizarre cultural trends of the summer.

And Henry Winkler sat down for a frank interview about his charity passion and his indelible pop-culture status.


Football season finally arrived, as college play opened and the Texans beat the Cowboys in a preseason game (we'll take it.) Analysis abounded. A list of the five most overrated Houston athletes brought out the Craig Biggio and Nolan Ryan defenders. And we had a slideshow for the opening of perennial powerhouse Katy High's season, which was as big an event as ever.


We had ten sex offenders who really do look like sex offenders, based on their mugshots; in a more difficult task, we asked readers to match the mugshot with the crime of ten recently incarcerated locals. A DPS trooper got caught selling driver's licenses to illegal aliens, and a Catholic priest got caught...no, not at that. Instead, it was for (somehow) threatening to blow up Aflac over customer service. Not amused: God, and annoying ducks.


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