In pursuit of the goal to foster a thriving hub of commerce, culture and living in the city, the board of directors created an Education Task Force in 2014 with the purpose of facilitating and advocating improved access to education.
The vision given by the board to the task force was as follows:
- Build a coalition to increase the ease of access to quality K-12 education within downtown and perimeter
- Collaborate to provide access to quality education so that the younger generations continue to live in the central city after they have children, or can bring their children with them to the central city when they go to work
- Understand the market for pre-k and childcare
- Use the building of the new HSPVA to build relationship and access to HISD
The study of education began in 2012 with an analysis and report “Living Central: Life Cycle Livability in the Regions Urban Core” completed by research intern, Clara Roberts.
Over the next two years, the Task Force began to gather the facts about schools in the inner city neighborhoods, and HISD and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research provided an in-depth perspective of public school education in the region.
Data collected by the task force provided some encouraging findings. The general perception of central city Houston schools as unsafe, run-down, or having low academic performance proved to be inaccurate. In fact, half of the top ten high schools in the metropolitan area are HISD schools, and four of these schools are within four miles of downtown:
- DeBakey High School for Health Professions
- High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
- Carnegie Vanguard
- Eastwood Academy
Out of the top ten-performing high schools in HISD, eight of them are within three miles of downtown. These include the schools listed above plus the following:
- East Early College High School
- Houston Academy for International Studies
- Lamar High School
- Law Enforcement-Criminal Justice High School
The task force expressed a need to create a clear “story” of the education options in the central city. HISD’s open enrollment program changes fairly often and can be confusing to new comers and to parents. Further, in addition to HISD public schools, there are many additional school options including private schools, charter schools, pre-schools and day schools.
The task force would like to see this information clearly communicated to the HR/recruiting staff of downtown employers as well as with real estate brokers/agents, so that the information can be accessible to people relocation to downtown Houston for work. Currently, there is no reliable source of information for people wanting to relocate to the central city. The task force has asked for the creation of a relocation tool-box which will include information on neighborhoods, schools, family resources, and commute options.
This effort by the education task force has resulted in creating “Living Central” program which is funded for development in 2016.
Contact Algenita Scott Davis, Government and Community Affairs Officer, 713-650-1470, for information on this project.