For more than two decades, Teach For America has been a pacesetter for education reform in the city of Houston. The same entrepreneurial spirit that made Houston the world's energy capital has propelled efforts in education and we've been a big part of it. Thousands of corps members have taught in Houston’s lowest-income schools, reaching nearly 200,000 students collectively and becoming some of the city's most prominent education leaders. Together we are building a coalition of teachers and community leaders that will continue to transform the educational landscape.
Houston has a storied history of innovation in education. Over the past 25 years, Teach For America – Houston, in partnership with school districts, families, and students has been at the vanguard of innovation in improving educational outcomes for kids. TFA alumni-led charter networks are consistently seeing close to 50 percent of their students to and through college. Some alumni have played leadership roles in Houston ISD as school board members, principals and district leaders, while others have founded organizations designed to support lower income families with college readiness, career pathways, community infrastructure and more. The combined efforts of students, parents, corps members, alumni, and community leaders have resulted in elevating conversations around school choice that have impacted programs and policy not only in Houston, but across the nation.
During the 1990s, KIPP and YES Prep charter school networks were founded here by Houston alumni. By 2004, the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the seventh largest school district in the nation, implemented a number of advancements, including a concrete focus on creating a college-bound culture in HISD schools and a performance-based bonus pay system for teachers. While serving as chief human resources officer, Teach For America alumna Ann Best (Houston Corps '96), played a pivotal role in strategically bolstering the overall talent level of the district's employees, with a strong emphasis on excellence in teaching. These efforts led the district to win the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education.
Today, corps members are a part of the fabric of this city. They find themselves in the company of like-minded educational leaders who share a passion for making things better for all kids. The city is currently home to thousands of Teach For America alumni, many of whom are still in the field of education -teaching, serving as principals, administrators, or school and district leaders. These school and district leaders—along with a cadre of alumni in other sectors and several non-profit organizations targeting educational inequity—are pushing Houston to live out its promise to transform outcomes for underserved students.