A CVPE parent shares a recap of CVPE Educational Forum, Inc.'s Fall Conference:

On Saturday, November 21st, I had the pleasure of attending CVPE Educational Forum, Inc.’s Fall Forum. It was held at the United Way of Greater Houston’s center and featured some of today’s most prominent and compelling voices in education in both the Houston community and in the state of Texas.

Because of a last minute family snafu, I was unable to attend the first two presentations, but I heard they were amazing. I showed up during Dr. Linda McNeil’s presentation. Dr. McNeil is a professor of education at Rice University. As a parent, I was glad to hear Dr. McNeil encourage the crowd to insist on developmentally appropriate practices in our schools. So much of what we do today does not meet that standard. She made the point that things that used to be common practice, like letting kids explore and do “hands on” learning that is messy and time consuming, are now considered radical.

 Dr. Ann McCoy spoke next about school closures. I felt relatively uneducated about this process since a school closure has not been a part of my community experience. Dr. McCoy spoke about how school closures often occur in areas of poverty and do serious damage to these areas. It was heartbreaking to hear her detail how Dodson Elementary School was shuttered, and how students do not benefit and end up in schools that are the same or worse. It is clear to me that shutting down schools sends a terrible message to the students and community members, and made me vow to pay attention the next time these debates are taking place.

 During lunch, we watched Fran Huckaby’s documentary “Public Education: Participatory Democracy in a time of Privatization.” It was so wonderful to see familiar CVPE faces alongside other national leaders speaking about taking back our schools! I am so thankful for this community in Houston.

The afternoon continued with an inspirational speech from Allen Weeks, community leader from Austin. He told his story of his involvement with his neighborhood school and how the community came together to transform it into a community school. He said the ideas came from teachers, and encouraged us to all be stubborn and singleminded in our work. He shared that we needed to not take no for an answer and remember that we are the final arbiters of what takes place in OUR schools. Listening to his experiences was very powerful.

Juliet Stipeche, District 8 HISD Trustee, was next. She gave a broad and jaw dropping overview of some of the challenges that HISD faces. It is truly going to take the community to stand together to overcome these challenges and stand for our children. The final two sessions of the day were panels. Zeph Capo and Juliet participated in a panel that addressed the future of the teaching profession in Houston, while Udoro Gatewood and Diana Tang participated in a panel discussing disciplinary practices and the restorative justice model.

Coming off a depressing election cycle, this forum was exactly what I needed to re-engage my inner educational activist! I am so thankful for the opportunity to hear each one of them. I am ready to continue advocating for my children and ALL children in Houston ISD.