As expected, HISD named Terry Grier its new superintendent at a press conference earlier today.
We went to the press conference to find out why Grier was selected, considering his job history is what some people might call shaky. A state senator told us earlier today, "It makes me wonder what kind of kool-aid they're drinking over there when they interviewed him."
We got an answer from Board President Larry Marshall: "The first time I heard him speak, I just thought, 'Wow.' He reminded me of a country preacher."
Marshall also was impressed with Grier's "moral compass."
Grier's ability to decrease the dropout rate, which he did in San Diego, is a more concrete example of why Marshall voted for Grier. In his 17 months in San Diego, Grier also cut $250 million from the district's budget, eliminating 350 jobs.
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"He kept those cuts as far away from the children as possible," Marshall said, adding that he expects plenty of staff changes when Grier takes over, but no job cuts.
Another concern about Grier is that he's a white guy that doesn't speak Spanish, taking over an enormous school district that is more than 60 percent Hispanic. Marshall said that doesn't matter to him, because there's no correlation between race and students' performance.
He gave the example of Sam Houston High School, which was academically unacceptable for years with a Hispanic principal. After the state order the school to close, Marshall said, it re-opened under a different name, and a "young lady that happens to be white" came in and turned the school around.
Grier brushed off his past troubles by saying, "You don't take yourself too seriously in this job. You make plenty of allies, and you have some critics."