Jason Spencer

  • News

    October 3, 2013

    Everyone Says They Want the Best for North Forest Students, As Long As They Stand to Benefit.

    HISD didn't just absorb North Forest out of the goodness of its heart. There's some real benefits in the acquisition to the mega district and its superintendent. Hopefully for the kids as well.

  • Blogs

    September 30, 2013

    HISD Doesn't Give a "Fat Rat" Carol Mims Galloway said at Meeting

    The American Coalition for Justice might as well be renamed the Coalition for People Who Really Don't Like HISD/Superintendent Terry Grier. Because it was very clear that the Gran Palacio Event Center was the last place in the world the Grier fan club would have met on Thursday night. Kevin Simms, ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 3, 2013

    UPDATED: African-American Architects Charge "Grave Concerns" in HISD Bond Construction Selections

    Updated: HISD Spokesman Jason Spencer challenged HNOMA's numbers, sending this note after reviewing the letter a second time: "All of the design contracts approved by the Board stipulate that the design fees are not to exceed 7 percent of each project's budget. Assuming that all of the projects hit ... More >>

  • News

    May 9, 2013

    Sterling High School: Keeping It All Together

    As Sterling High School’s year comes to an end, merger talk has the community upset, critics say they can’t trust HISD, and its latest principal is pulling out all the stops to try to get kids to graduation.

  • Blogs

    February 21, 2013

    Charter-Friendly HISD Doesn't Like Sen. Dan Patrick's Charter School Bill

    Sen. Dan Patrick's charter school bill has drawn the ire of the one school district that probably would have been the most favorably inclined to support it: Houston. The Houston Independent School District was charter friendly long before other school districts were, mainly due to the influence of ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 6, 2013

    Charetta Kemp: Charges Dropped Against Gun-Toting HISD Tutor

    The District Attorney;s office has dropped charges against Charetta Kemp, the HISD tutor arrested February 1 for having a gun on campus. The gun, a 9 mm Taurus pistol, was in the glove compartment of Kemp's car, and therefore was allowed under Texas law, DA spokesperson Sara Marie Kinney tells Hair ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 23, 2013

    Legislators Propose Tax Districts To Fight School Crime, Guns & Violence

    Three Houston lawmakers are proposing the creation of school district crime control districts, new taxing entities that can fund additional security measures or free up dollars for other expenditures. The "Texas School District Security Act" would give taxpayers the right to approve this new taxin ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 5, 2012

    HISD Tries To Get Back That Money It Says It Incorrectly Paid Teachers, Staffers

    The Houston school district says it's been wrongly paying teachers and staffers for years, and now it wants that money back. About 3,700 school district employees are affected (HISD has about 24,000 workers, according to the Texas Education Agency), and they are being told to make things right. Th ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 24, 2012

    HISD Takes The "No Fun" Route: Fake Science 101 Is Not For Them

    It can take a lot to get kids interested in a textbook these days; for some it can mean taking a novel approach, one based on a Daily Show/Colbert Report take on things. That seems to be the thinking of the creators of Fake Science 101, a book that billls itself as a "A Less-Than-Factual Guide to O ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 16, 2012

    Working Together or in Separate Little Cubicles With Only a Computer For Company, HISD Students Post a Lower Dropout Rate, Higher Grad Rate

    The percentage of kids officially dropping out of the Houston ISD decreased from 12.6 percent (Class of 2010) to 11.8 percent (Class of 2011), Superintendent Terry Grier announced today. At the same time, the marker on the graduation rate went up as well from 74.3 percent to 78.5 percent in the sa ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 27, 2012

    Will HISD Thumb Its Nose at Rick Perry & Go for the Race to the Top?

    The deadline is looming for the next round of the Race to the Top, a program federal education department officials all but admit was drafted for Houston Independent School District after Texas refused to compete for federal grants. When Education Secretary Arne Duncan hinted such a district-based ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 14, 2012

    CEP Readies for a Contract Extension, More Kids from HISD

    When Terry Grier came in as the new superintendent of Houston ISD in September 2009, many critics of the alternative schools operated by Community Education Partners were encouraged when he started questioning why the district was farming out some of its kids. At board workshops, Grier made it clea ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 8, 2012

    HISD Drops Pink Slime Suit Against Don Lee Farms

    First the Houston ISD declared stoutly that it had no pink slime in the meat it had purchased for its children. Restaurants and schools throughout the country might have a problem. It did not, it assured parents and the public. Then, after discovering it did, in fact, have some, and that much of ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 12, 2012

    Seven Disciplined For Lamar High "Riot"

    Lamar High students and HISD officials are still having semantic debates over what constitutes a "riot," but something went wrong April 5, and the punishments are beginning to come down. Seven students have been suspended, including two who received Class C misdemeanors for disrupting class, says H ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 6, 2012

    Comment of the Day: What Really Went On in the Lamar High "Riot"

    We have some great commenters here on Hair Balls, and it's time we paid some damn attention to them. So we'll be highlighting a Comment of the Day each morning, from the previous day's work. Maybe two comments, even. This will all be determined by a highly rigorous scientific formula involving wit ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 4, 2012

    Broad Prize: HISD a Finalist Again, Goes for a Second Win

    Houston ISD got some great news today -- it's been nominated once again as a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education thanks to an increased African-American graduation rate, more African Americans and Hispanics taking Advanced Placement tests and a greater percentage than any other urban di ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 30, 2012

    HISD Won't Be Merging With North Forest ISD, For Now

    The Texas Education Agency's plan to have the Houston school district absorb the chronically troubled North Forest district has been shelved, for now at least. TEA commissioner Robert Scott informed HISD by letter today that merging with NFISD "is no longer an option," HISD spokesman Jason Spencer ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 27, 2012

    Lauren Topek: Principal Yanked After Janitor Death Lands at Bell Elementary

    We wrote earlier this year about Antonia Rivas, a 69-year-old janitor at Shadowbriar Elementary who -- according to her family and some teachers -- was overworked by the school's principal in the days leading up to her death. Three weeks after the article appeared, HISD yanked Shadowbriar principal ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 23, 2012

    HISD Takes Another Run at Standardizing School-Day Start and End Times

    Could be required reading in all of HISD next year.​Superintendent Terry Grier is making another run at cutting Houston ISD expenses by standardizing school schedules throughout the district, after last year's narrow rejection of the measure by board trustees. His administration says that by ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 9, 2012

    HISD Board Might Extend Terry Grier's Contract Tonight

    Terry Grier's contract being discussed​Are you ready for some more Terry Grier? Five Houston school board members are, and they are looking to extend the superintendent's contract for another year, to 2014. The move may come as early as tonight, although some are questioning whether doing so ... More >>

  • News

    February 2, 2012

    A Little Respect

    Antonia Rivas did her job in HISD until she died. Now her children want some notice to be paid.

  • News

    November 24, 2011

    Entitled to What?

    The Ochoas are hardworking, taxpaying U.S. citizens who have taught their kids English. Why, they ask, should they be penalized for that?

  • Blogs

    October 11, 2011

    Paula Harris, HISD Strangely Accuse Reporter of Unethical Behavior

    HISD issues diktat on jounralistic ethics.​The Houston school district and its board president, Paula Harris, have accused Texas Watchdog reporter Michael Cronin of "unethical behavior" because, among other things, he taped a conversation with her. HISD spokesman Jason Spencer, a former Houst ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 13, 2011

    Meet HISD Board Candidates -- Even the Ones Who Aren't TV Stars

    Paula Harris is the Law & Order of HISD TV.​If you watch Houston ISD TV, then you know school board President Paula Harris and the First Vice President Manuel Rodriguez. They are everywhere. For just some of the examples: Besides the televised monthly board meetings, Harris was on The Stude ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 4, 2011

    Some HISD Schools Face Big Changes From No Child Left Behind

    Some HISD schools are getting left behind.​Step aside, Apollo 20. A slew of Houston ISD high schools are going to have to undergo serious overhauls to satisfy requirements of No Child Left Behind. Federal school and district ratings were released this afternoon. In a subsequent press release, ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 3, 2011

    HISD Spokesperson Norm Uhl Fired

    Norm Uhl will no longer be spinning HISD.​Winner of Best Flack in last year's Best of HoustonĀ® issue, Houston school district spokesman Norm Uhl is now out of a job. He was fired by the district. We gave the award to Uhl, a former KHOU reporter, because he seemed willing to battle what had ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 29, 2011

    State Senator Mario Gallegos Says HISD's Apollo 20 Contracts May Be Unethical

    Mario Gallegos goes after Terry Grier again.​State Senator Mario Gallegos, a persistent critic of Houston school superintendent Terry Grier's Apollo 20 pilot program, has asked the Texas Education Agency to audit the contracts involved in it. He says there are ethical questions involving HISD ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 29, 2011

    HISD Touts Results on Two National Exams

    HISDHISD's graph showing movement in the right direction.​The Houston school district says its students have made impressive gains in the latest round of Stanford and Aprenda tests, which measure students nationwide. "HISD students posted especially strong gains in math and science during the ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 10, 2011

    HISD's Apollo 20 Dealing With Some Outbound Personnel

    Changes at Terry Grier's signature turn-around program​In today's Examiner newpapers, editor Charlotte Aguilar breaks the news that Jeremy Beard, the school improvement officer assigned to oversee the turnaround project for the district's low-performing schools, is leaving Houston ISD. Instea ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 27, 2011

    Comment of the Day: HISD, TAKS, Spinning & Responsibility

    ​We have some great commenters here on Hair Balls, and it's time we paid some damn attention to them. So we'll be highlighting a Comment of the Day each morning, from the previous day's work. Maybe two comments, even. This will all be determined by a highly rigorous scientific formula involv ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 19, 2011

    Kindergarten Mayhem: Kid Brings Gun to Class, It Goes Off

    It's show-and-tell time!!​Three kindergartners at Ross Elementary were injured this morning because one of them brought a gun to class and dropped it, setting it off. "None of the wounds are considered life-threatening," HISD spokesman Jason Spencer says. So there's that -- no life-threaten ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 12, 2011

    HISD Eyes More School Closures, a Hike in Lunch Prices, UPDATED

    Dollars: HISD ain't got `em​Update:HISD spokesman Jason Spencer sent us a note that these schools are now up for closure and/or consolidation: Elementary schools: Memorial, Paige, N.Q. Henderson, Port Houston, Gordon, Pleasantville, Stevenson, Houston Gardens, Burrus, Rhoads, Grimes, McDade, a ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 1, 2011

    Vince Young: No Questions About the Titans, Please

    It is not known if VY will go shirtless at his tournament.​The Houston school district sent out a proud announcement saying they are partnering with Vince Young on a golf tournament that will raise $110,000 in scholarships. The Madison High alumnus' event will be April 4, and news coverage wo ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 31, 2011

    Worthing High Shooting -- the HISD Reaction

    HISD taking steps in wake of shooting​The Houston school district is not really commenting on last evening's gang-related fatal shooting at Worthing High School because "it is the focus of an HPD ongoing criminal investigation," spokesman Jason Spencer says. But it has issued a statement from ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 11, 2011

    Comment of the Day: HISD's Definition of Truth

    ​We have some great commenters here on Hair Balls, and it's time we paid some damn attention to them. So we'll be highlighting a Comment of the Day each morning, from the previous day's work. Maybe two comments, even. This will all be determined by a highly rigorous scientific formula involv ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 9, 2011

    Actually, HISD Already Did Spend General Funds on Apollo 20

    Previous statements are inoperative​Friends of Hair Balls have been besieging us in the last couple of days, insisting that Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier misspoke when he testified before a Senate Committee on Education that the district has never used general funds to finance Apollo ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 7, 2011

    Grier Backs Off From His Controversial Magnet Changes

    HISD magnet changes won't come anytime soon​After a marathon meeting of parental dismay with proposed changes to the Houston school district's magnet program last week, superintendent Terry Grier has waved the white flag and postponed any action until next school year. District spokesman Jaso ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 23, 2011

    HISD Accused of Spurning HCC in Favor of Lone Star College

    Has HISD found somebody new?​State Senator Mario Gallegos has a new beef with the Houston school district -- he says HISD is stiffing Houston Community College in favor of Lone Star College. Gallegos wrote to HISD superintendent Terry Grier saying the district's "been extraordinarily indiffer ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 18, 2011

    Arnold Viramontes, HISD's Splashy New Hire, Violated Nepotism Rules

    HISD's new hire had a nepotism flap in Dallas​The Houston school district announced today it is hiring the Dallas ISD's chief of staff, Arnold Viramontes, to oversee its technology operations. Our sister blog Unfair Park has a post up analyzing why this is big news for DISD -- Viramontes has ... More >>

  • News

    February 17, 2011

    Third Ward Heat

    Mayor, police grilled on HPD beating.

  • Blogs

    February 10, 2011

    What Texas Needs: Armed School Board Members

    This'll liven up a dull school baord meeting​Last December, a man named Clay Duke achieved brief national fame for video footage of him pointing a gun at the members of a Florida school board. The pantywaists up north might not know what the solution is to such a problem, but here in Texas at ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 27, 2011

    HISD's Single-Sex Schools: Not Quite a Hot Ticket

    Sixty-three applications for 450 spots​The Houston school board announced with great fanfare two months ago the opening of separate schools for girls and boys; supporters were confident the idea would be popular. Maybe it eventually will be, but the district has not exactly been overwhelmed w ... More >>

  • News

    January 20, 2011

    Playing Favorites

    HISD partners with the Chronicle on magnet report

  • Blogs

    January 12, 2011

    Comment of the Day: The Chron And HISD in Bed

    ​We have some great commenters here on Hair Balls, and it's time we paid some damn attention to them. So we'll be highlighting a Comment of the Day each morning, from the previous day's work. Maybe two comments, even. This will all be determined by a highly rigorous scientific formula involv ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 10, 2011

    HISD Makes a Deal With the Chron (KTRU's Ghost Walks the Halls)

    Special access for a former colleague​At 4 p.m. today, the Houston ISD board will meet to review an independent audit of its magnet schools done by Magnet Schools of America. As Richard Connelly detailed in our report last week, there's a lot to be concerned about what with the report (still t ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 14, 2010

    Updated:Terry Grier's Rightsizing May Mean Adios For Some Teachers and HISD Schools

    HISD: Budget cuts a-comin'​Update:HISD Spokesman Jason Spencer says there are 66 not 69 underpopulated schools and that designation has nothing to do with "capacity." See below. Superintendent Terry Grier, while "trying not to be Chicken Little," brought Chief Financial Officer Melinda Ga ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 6, 2010

    HISD's Magnet Schools: Independent Reviewers Weigh In

    Magnet School reviewers wondered if they were seeing the real thing​Magnet school principals resent unequal resources, are a little unsure of the independently contracted magnet school review process now going on and best practices aren't shared across the Houston ISD, according to a review of ... More >>

  • News

    November 18, 2010

    Cougar on Prowl in Katy

    Mom sexts her teen son's friend

  • Blogs

    November 9, 2010

    The Chronicle's Jason Spencer: From Covering HISD To Promoting It

    The revolving door is busy​Jason Spencer, who was been covering the Houston school district as a Houston Chronicle reporter and editor for six years, has a new job: Promoting the Houston school district. Spencer starts soon in HISD's communications department, where he'll be paid $95,000 a ye ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 2, 2009

    HISD Board Still Struggling With Stunning New Concept Of "Television"

    Two years ago, we wrote about how HISD was having trouble with the seemingly simple task of televising their meetings on the cable channel they run.The district had long said their outdated headquarters building couldn't handle the logistics, which sounded shaky enough; after moving into a new build ... More >>

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