Are classes in hair cuts and skin care -- especially if students are not actually going to pursue that as a career -- really the best use of a kid's high school years?
Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier asked that question at last week's workshop agenda, focusing on the cosmetology program at the CLC (Contemporary Learning Center).
"Our staff has been looking at the school," Grier told trustees at their agenda meeting, and the findings so far have him a little uneasy.
"If you are going to take cosmetology...what percentage of those students are going on to a career in cosmetology?" he asked. He said it would be fine with him if it was all, or 90 percent or even 50 percent, "but when you talk about none or two kids ... then the question comes back to why."
The alternative learning center in the Third Ward has a new principal and added emphasis this year on before- and after-school tutoring and Saturday sessions, trustees were assured. A check of its profile on the HISD website shows it was academically unacceptable in the 2006-7 school year, but worked out of that.
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Grier still questioned its basic mission, describing its course offerings as "not green technology, not where we're going in the future."
The superintendent said the answer he gets when he asks about the school's mission is "We want to give kids something they can do with their hands." His response: "We want to give kids something to do with their minds."
Trustee Larry Marshall told Grier he'd been misinformed about CLC's past. He said rather than some sort of alternative school of last resort. "It was really for bright kids who were turned off with school," and noted that "Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby's daughter went there."
"Somebody has watered it down," Marshall said.