Houston Hospitals Under Fire For Offering Fast Food

first_img Share Listen X 00:00 /02:14 Value the Meal campaignProtesters with Corporate Accountability International rallied outside Harris Health System on March 31 over the McDonald’s in Ben Taub.Two national groups have called on several Houston hospitals to remove fast-food chain restaurants from their grounds.One recent campaign by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine focused on Chik-fil-A. It says about 20 hospitals across the country have the franchise, and it launched an advertising and billboard campaign that parodied Chik-fil-A’s slogan, with white-coated doctors asking people to “Eat More Chickpeas.” One of the Houston billboards was on Alameda road, not far from the Texas Medical Center.“Many of the hospitals that host Chick-fil-As are in states with high rates of diet-related diseases, making hospitals part of the overall toxic food environment,” said Angie Eakin, M.D., in a statement. She also appears in the advertisements. “Hospitals should be fast-food-free, and patients should eat more chickpeas, vegetables, fruits, and other foods that can promote healing and prevent disease.” In Houston, there are two Chik-fil-A restaurants at MD Anderson, one at Texas Children’s, and one inside the Texas Medical Center administrative building.Another group, Corporate Accountability International, is focused on McDonald’s at healthcare institutions.  Taylor Billings, a Houston organizer for the group, criticized both Texas Children’s and Ben Taub hospital for having a McDonald’s.“To have two of the leading health institutions in Houston hosting the world’s most recognized junk food brand, it just doesn’t make any sense,” Billings said.  Billings organized a protest March 31 outside the headquarters of the Harris Health System on Holly Hall Street, by the Smith Clinic.  The group asked board members to get rid of the McDonald’s at Ben Taub hospital.Value the Meal campaignAzeen Anjum, a medical student at Baylor College of Medicine, speaks at the launch of the Houston campaign to remove fast food from local hospitals.The restaurant has the right to renew its lease until 2022. In addition, the contract with McDonald’s also gives a portion of the proceeds to a charitable foundation associated with Harris Health. The foundation uses the money for its programs, such as free vaccines and a mobile mammogram unit.“McDonald’s has been a very good partner for us throughout our association and affiliation,” said Harris Health’s CEO and president, George Masi.The foundation gets almost $11,000 a month from the McDonald’s, a spokesman said.Billings dismissed those payments as “kickbacks,” and said they were not unique to the Ben Taub location.“For McDonald’s this is high-impact marketing,” Billings said. “For them to keep a restaurant in a place of health is such an incredible marketing opportunity, and McDonald’s will do almost anything to keep that piece of real estate.”Masi pointed out that Ben Taub offers several dining options, not just McDonald’s.“Yes, hamburgers are their signature product line,” Masi said, “But they offer salads and diet drinks and juices, so it does provide for personal choice, and we do everything we can to educate our patients and staff about the importance of good nutrition and balanced diet and caloric intake.”Texas Children’s Hospital declined to release details of its contracts with McDonald’s or Chik-fil-A.A spokeswoman did say that by having a McDonald’s, the hospital can maintain communication with the company’s corporate leaders, and possibly work with them to help make changes that would impact children nationally, not just in Houston. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:last_img read more

A FiveState Poll About Healthcare Reveals Worries About Cost Coverage and Choice

first_imgTexas Medical CenterDr. Tim Garson of the Texas Medical Center’s Health Policy Institute presented results from the five-state survey during the plenary session of Medical World Americas in Houston.The new Health Policy Institute at the Texas Medical Center in Houston conducted the poll, posing questions to 1,000 people in each of five states: Texas, California, Florida, New York and Ohio.The cost of healthcare was a common complaint. A majority of people in all five states said they were paying more out-of-pocket for healthcare than they were two years ago. Texas had the most people saying that, at 65 percent.“Clearly, we as a country, we as a state – couldn’t we find ways to decrease the overall cost of healthcare?” asked Dr. Tim Garson, the director of the Health Policy Institute.When it comes to healthcare, voters said “coverage” was the most important thing to them, followed by the choice of doctors. In general, Democrats favored coverage slighty more, while Republicans tended to rate choice of doctors as more important. The survey did not ask the 5,000 respondents if they liked the idea of a government-funded “single payer” system, similar to the ones in Canada and many European countries. But many respondents did say universal coverage was important, not just coverage for themselves and their family. “One of my biggest surprises is that 85 percent of everybody asked was looking for ‘coverage for all,’” Garson said. “They are worried about their sisters and brothers. And I think that, at some point, is going to show up in the voting rolls.”The Affordable Care Act has helped 20 million additional Americans get insurance, but Garson says the law didn’t do much to control the actual prices being charged in the healthcare industry. Consumers feel the financial pressure in their deductibles, co-pays and monthly premiums.“Of the uninsured, 87 percent said when they went to the exchange they couldn’t afford it,” Garson said, referring to the online marketplaces where people can buy individual or family insurance plans if their employers don’t provide coverage.“That, therefore, is the unaffordable Affordable Care Act,” Garson added. The survey did not ask whether those respondents were talking about the market rates for insurance plans, or the monthly premium they would personally pay, perhaps after receiving a generous government subsidy. Either way, the perception among many uninsured is that insurance plans are still too expensive, Garson said.The survey compared attitudes about Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded insurance plan for low-income people.In California, New York and Ohio, politicians took advantage of funding in the Affordable Care Act, and expanded Medicaid to cover more poor adults who previously didn’t qualify. Most residents in those three states said they approved of that decision.But the Republican leaders of Texas and Florida refused to expand Medicaid. The survey showed two-thirds of people in those two states wanted them to do it anyway.“Both Texas and Florida, the residents there are hurting and are turning to the idea of Medicaid expansion,” Garson said. Garson said politicians can’t always assume they know what voters want, and this sort of survey can help shed light on their attitudes. Garson gave another example of the poll contradicting expectations. A majority of people surveyed said that sugary drinks and junk food should be subject to hefty additional taxes, to combat obesity. That held true even in the two conservative states of Texas and Florida.Obamacare and health costs will be part of the campaign rhetoric, said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Baker is not connected to the survey but examined it at the request of Houston Public Media.Although candidates will talk about healthcare, Baker is not convinced it’s the kind of pivotal issue that will motivate voters to choose one presidential candidate over another.“Generally, people are mindful of the healthcare issues because they are very practical, day-to-day concerns, but whether or not they would get out of bed on Tuesday morning in November, and go to the polls based on their feelings about whether or not Medicaid should be expanded in their state is, I think, subject to challenge.”Rather, the expected contest between Clinton and Trump will probably be decided on their personality differences, rather than any one specific issue like healthcare, Ross said.   X 00:00 /02:20 Share To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Listen last_img read more

The Latest Lawmakers Say Flynn Sidestepped Disclosure Rules

first_img Share The Latest on the congressional probe of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election (all times local):1:20 p.m.An attorney for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn says that his client told the Defense Intelligence Agency that he would be traveling to Moscow to attend a gala for a Russian state-sponsored television network.Attorney Robert Kelner says Flynn also talked with the Defense Intelligence Agency staff after he returned from the trip and answered any questions they asked.Kelner’s comments came the same day the two top congressmen on a House committee investigating Flynn said that the former lieutenant general may have violated federal law by accepting tens of thousands of dollars in payments as part of the trip. Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Flynn could be criminally prosecuted because, as a former Army officer, he was barred from accepting the foreign payments._____11:20 a.m.The senior members of Congress on the House Oversight Committee say classified military documents show that the Trump administration’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, did not ask permission or inform the U.S. government about payments he received for appearances before Russian organizations in 2015 and for lobbying that helped Turkey’s government.Flynn’s failure to obtain permission from military authorities for the payments raises concern whether Flynn violated a constitutional ban on foreign payments to retired military officers. That’s according to Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings.The two leaders of the oversight committee said there was no evidence Flynn complied with federal law. They said Flynn could be criminally prosecuted, and they said Flynn should surrender the money he was paid.___10:55 a.m.The White House is refusing to provide lawmakers with information and documents related to President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser’s security clearance and payments from organizations tied to the Russian and Turkish governments.The White House was responding to requests made last month by the House Oversight committee. The committee made six requests, and the White House cited reasons it could not comply with each of them.Trump has said he fired Michael Flynn because of misleading comments he made to the vice president about his discussions with the Russian ambassador during the transition. Flynn is among the Trump associates being investigated by Congress and the FBI for possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia._____8:45 a.m.Former acting attorney general Sally Yates is scheduled to appear at a congressional hearing next month on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.Yates is to appear May 8 along with James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence.The hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee was announced Tuesday morning.It will mark her first appearance on Capitol Hill since she was fired in late January after refusing to defend President Donald Trump’s travel ban.last_img read more

The Tunnel Vengeance Headed To PBS In 2018

first_img Share The brilliant third and final series of perhaps one of the most underrated series on television will transmit later this year on PBS following its successful Sky Atlantic broadcast in the UK back in December. The Tunnel will return with The Tunnel: Vengeance where we’ll see the Commander Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) and DCI Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) band get back together for one final time beginning when their discovery of a burning fishing boat found on the English Channel in the 6-part final third series.Written by Tunnel showrunner, Emilia di Girolamo (Law and Order U.K.), the third series of the Anglo-French version of the Scandinavian series, The Bridge, will also see the return of Angel Coulby as Laura Roebuck, William Ash as Detective Constable ‘BB’ Borowski, Thibault de Montalembert as Commander Oliver Pujol and Cédric Vieira as Lieutenant Phillipe Viot alongside Dillane and Poésy.last_img read more

APNORC Poll Americans Open To Trumps Planned North Korea Talks

first_imgAhn Young-joon/APA man at the Seoul, South Korea, train station last August watches a news program featuring President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.Americans appear open to President Donald Trump’s surprise decision to negotiate directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and at the same time are less concerned than in recent months by the threat posed by the pariah nation’s nuclear weapons.That’s according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, taken after Trump agreed to what would be unprecedented meeting between a U.S. and a North Korean leader.North Korea has yet to publicly confirm plans for the summit, slated for May, but the poll results suggest its potential has eased fears of war that intensified last year as the North made rapid strides in its nuclear and missile capabilities.“If you sit down and talk over any matter, there can be a resolution to it without starting a war,” said Sarah Dobbs, a 64-year-old retiree from Norman, Oklahoma, who described herself as a Democrat and is among the 48 percent of Americans who favor Trump’s plan to talk with Kim.“No other president has ever done something this bold. That’s why I think: Why not let Trump have at it?” she said.The poll found that 29 percent oppose the plans for talks between the two nations, while 21 percent say they’re neither in favor nor opposed.The survey also found an uptick in approval of Trump’s handling of relations with North Korea as the focus has shifted from possible U.S. military action to diplomacy. That figure is now 42 percent, up from 34 percent last October amid a coarse back and forth between the two leaders.Last September, Trump dubbed Kim “Rocket Man” and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. Kim responded with threats and insults of his own, calling Trump “deranged” and a “dotard.” North Korea’s foreign minister suggested that it might conduct an atmospheric nuclear test in the Pacific — a threat it hasn’t followed through on.Since then, the proportion of Americans who say they’re very or extremely concerned about the nuclear threat North Korea poses to the U.S. has dropped to 50 percent from 67 percent. It’s a decline that registered with both Republicans and Democrats. Americans also see the threat as having lessened for U.S. allies Japan and South Korea, as well as U.S. overseas territories such as Guam.Trump agreed to talk after Kim conveyed through South Korean intermediaries an offer to discuss “denuclearization” and halt nuclear and missile tests. South Korea’s leader is due to have his own summit with Kim in April.Americans are divided over the potential goals of U.S. discussions with North Korea. Forty-four percent say the North must completely give up its nukes, the long-standing goal of U.S. policy. Forty percent think the U.S. should consider a deal if the North agrees to make progress toward that goal.Only 13 percent think the country shouldn’t consider a deal with North Korea at all.“I would like to see a denuclearization of North Korea, but I don’t know how feasible that is,” said Aaron Saunders, a 26-year-old medical research associate from Three Rivers, Michigan, who was generally supportive of Trump’s handling of the issue — aside from his tweeting.Theresa Ferraro, 71, of Lowell, Massachusetts, said a summit might make the world safer, but she questioned the president’s temperament for negotiations.“He speaks out too much,” she said. “I’m outspoken myself, but you gotta know when to zip it and I don’t think he knows.”Despite the general openness toward negotiations with North Korea, Americans have mixed views about the direction of U.S. national security. One in three say that it will get better over the next year. Similar proportions say it will get worse and stay about the same.But there are clearer differences on partisan lines. Two-thirds of Republicans expect national security to improve, while a slightly smaller proportion of Democrats expect it to get worse in the year ahead.Americans have largely negative views about how the U.S. is viewed around the world. Some 53 percent think respect for American will decline in the next ahead, with just 26 percent expecting it to improve. And 48 percent think U.S. influence around the world will decline in the next year, compared with just 27 percent who believe it will get better.Pamela Williams, 69, of New York City, criticized Trump for boasting about U.S. military strength and having what she saw as flippant attitude to matters of war and peace.“I have not seen anything that he’s done since taking office that he’s taken seriously. Everything is a joke to him,” she said. Sharelast_img read more

METROs First Driverless Vehicle Coming To Texas Southern University

first_imgMetropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO)A shuttle similar to the one Metro plans to operate on the Texas Southern University campus.Students at Texas Southern University will have access to a free autonomous shuttle bus, later this year. The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Metro) board, in a unanimous vote, approved up to $250,000 for the first stage of an automated vehicle pilot program. The vehicle will be limited to a mile-long path on campus, driving at 12-miles-per-hour. An operator will be on board the shuttle, at all times.  The shuttle is the first venture into autonomous vehicles for Metro.Video Playerhttps://cdn.hpm.io/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/27071433/Bars-Inverse-2018-04-27-at-7.13am.mp400:0000:0000:16Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“One of our requests as a committee was that we get a briefing on what Phase II, and onward, of this looks like,” Metro Board Member Christof Spieler said, during Thursday’s Metro Board of Directors meeting. “And we’re looking forward to that discussion, to make sure that this isn’t just a one-time pilot; but, rather, something that really is the beginning of an exploration of what’s possible here.” Listen X 00:00 /10:37center_img To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: In a press release, Metro said it will use the Texas Southern University pilot to study how autonomous vehicles may be used on short routes, as well as in business parks and medical centers.MetroThis battery operatored shuttle is used in Arlington at AT&T Stadium.“The location is ideal and its transportation studies program provides the type of academic expertise needed. It also allows us to explore how this technology can be applied on a greater scale,” Metro President & CEO Tom Lambert said, in the statement.MORE: METRO’s Kimberly Williams Discusses Driverless Bus Program Sharelast_img read more

Commissioners Court Approves 25 Billion Flood Bond Proposal For Ballot

first_imgPhoto: Andrew Schneider | Houston Public MediaThe Harris County Commissioners Court has voted to place a $2.5 billion bond proposal on the August 25 ballot, asking voters to finance a 10- to 15-year program of flood mitigation projects.The Harris County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to place a $2.5 billion bond proposal on the August 25th ballot, asking voters to finance a 10- to 15-year program of flood mitigation projects that include drainage improvements, upgraded warning systems, infrastructure repairs, home buyouts, and construction of more detention basins.According to a news release from the office of County Judge Ed Emmett, he said that the goal of the bond issue is to speed up a host of projects that ultimately will provide greater protection for county residents and their property.“After a series of catastrophic floods in recent years, Harris County residents rightly expect major improvements in the way we protect our homes and residents from disaster,” Emmett said.The news release detailed that the county’s Budget Management Department has estimated that, if passed, the bond issue would result in an overall tax rate increase of 2-3 cents per $100 assessed valuation – meaning that most homeowners would see an increase of no more than 1.4 percent in their property tax after all bonds were sold.Homeowners with an over-65 or disabled exemption and a home assessed at $200,000 or less would pay no additional taxes. Sharelast_img read more

National Poetry Month Cooking Poems On Stoves By Zachary Caballero

first_img X This poem is reprinted with permission of the author.Music used: Fancy Stops and Goes (excerpt), Improvisation #3 (excerpt) and Midnight on the Water / Bonaparte’s Retreat (excerpt) by Mark O’Connor from Midnight on the Water and Red (excerpt) by Joseph V. Williams II from Texas Guitar Quartet: RedTo learn more about this series, go here. In this sound portrait, we meet poet Zachary Caballero. He describes poetry as the art of paying attention and talks about how poems can help us feel less alone, as well as why he loves to cook. He reads his poem, “Cooking Poems on Stoves.”Zachary Caballero is a Mexican-American writer and personal injury attorney. In 2016, HuffPost Latino Voices featured him among 10 Spoken Word Poets Who Speak To Diverse Latino Experiences. His work has been showcased by We are Mitú, Button Poetry, Write About Now, FreezeRay Press and the Austin International Poetry Festival. Caballero has competed four times at the National Poetry Slam and was crowned the 2016 Grand Slam Poetry Champion at Write About Now. While attending law school, he taught poetry and spoken word performance in public schools across Houston with Writers in the Schools. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Christopher DiazZachary Caballerocenter_img Listen Cooking Poems on StovesI cross the crosswalk when the sun crosses my heart, kisses my facewith the same heat I’ve been trying to recreate with the words in my kitchen.I open my mouth like my hands and turn nothing into something.What I mean is, I cook with love and don’t we all have an appetite?Ask my guests, they scrape the plate. Nothing left but gratitude for the chef.I’m trying to feed you with whatever I got.Like my ancestors before me, you can find me by the fire.I’m cooking poems on stoves, I simmer the similes like onions with sugar,I want this story to caramelize naturally.I tell stories in your stomachI tell stories which are really just recipesfor how to create joy when I feel empty insideAs you listen to me explain how to properly cookbone-in chicken in a cast-iron skillet,know the truth is my favorite flavor.If I misspeak, it only means I changed the recipe mid-sentence.Can I tell you a secret?I need love like olive oil.The first thing my mother and grandmother dowhen I am home is ask if I am hungry.Of course, I say yes.Of course, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.So I open my stomach like a sentence I wish to re-write.I don’t always know what I wish to change, my appetite or the recipe.When I can’t stand the cold emptiness of indecision,I stand up in the heat of the kitchen.I open the fridge like a dictionary.Language, my ultimate box of mystery ingredients.Every plate is a page I am not afraid to shareI don’t always have a lot, but I got enough to make it through breakfast.I’m hungry, but sometimes, I leave my voice in the oven.I buy fresh fruit because I want to learn how to be useful before I too begin to rot. I use my knife to carve meaning clean from the bone.I plate the truth with purpose.If you’re still hungry, there are plenty of seconds. 00:00 /07:15 Sharelast_img read more

Houston Religious Leaders Condemn ICE Raids While Community Prepares

first_imgShannon Harrison/Houston Public MediaImam Qasim Khan denounces actions against immigrants at the Al Tawid Mosque in Houston.Muslim and Christian faith leaders, along with immigrant advocates, are condemning the Trump administration’s plans to detain undocumented immigrants in cities across the country. Raids are scheduled to happen over several days and are likely to take place in Houston and nine other major cities, the New York Times first reported Thursday. President Donald Trump postponed the operation last month.“Those of you who are facing a possible atrocity this coming Sunday morning, let us encourage you to be strong, to be vigilant, to do good. Because the good person is the strong person. And the evil person, like the one we have in office, in Washington, he’s a spiritual and a moral weakling and God will deal with him in due time,” said Reverend Ronnie Lister. To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Listen 00:00 /00:47 Sharecenter_img X Lister joined several religious community leaders in speaking out against current leadership and questioning the morality of current immigration policies and practices. Shannon Harrison/Houston Public MediaReverend Ronnie Lister railed against current immigration policy under President Trump.“This administration is terrifying our community,” said Marta Ojeda, national coordinator of Interfaith United Justice Worker Center.Lawyers are encouraging immigrants not to open their doors unless there is a warrant signed by a judge and not to answer questions about immigration status. The Immigrant Rights Hotline can also field questions regarding raids and the legal aid available. The number is 1-833-468-4664. Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative legal director Andrea Guttin said that raids are targeting people who have deportation orders because they failed to show up in court.“These families are being targeted for deportation without notice of their court dates, without access to legal counsel and without an opportunity to fairly present their case before an immigration judge,” Guttin said in a statement. She also said these operations put family members or people nearby at risk of being picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “ICE increasingly apprehends other people in these ‘targeted’ raids including those with family members — particularly children — who are U.S. citizens, green card holders or have other types of legal status in the country,” Guttin said.Local lawmakers reactHarris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said that while she hasn’t received any communication from the federal government directly about raids, she’s encouraging immigrant families to be aware of their rights. “These raids seek to subvert our sense of community by putting the very heart of Harris County, our diversity, in the crosshairs of a shameful political maneuver,” Hidalgo said in a statement.I represent a large immigrant community in Houston, the most diverse city in America. I am opposed to #iceraids. Please watch this video & #knowyourrights. Allies, stand up for our community. #txlege #FamiliesBelongTogether pic.twitter.com/N8dG3mgeQo— Gene Wu (@GeneforTexas) July 12, 2019In a written statement, U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee called the raids  a “political stunt,” adding that, “it has the effect to imperil lives and especially jeopardize the lives of children.”  The Heights office will be prepared to be of assistance as the raids are proceeding. Before Sunday, however, The Heights office will also be available for general constituent services today and tomorrow.— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) July 11, 2019Raid threats sparking fear  Raids also impact immigrant communities by causing anxiety and fear, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told CNN.“I’ve had children come up to me at a forum saying ‘I’m afraid to go to school, I’m afraid to leave the house, I’m afraid to come home and find that my parents are gone’ and these are American children, U.S. born children, so it’s creating havoc in our community,” Acevedo said. The #Houston flea market is usually crowded on Sundays, but workers here tell me that threats of #ICEraids have slowed business today: pic.twitter.com/TkSy3HrZys— Elizabeth Trovall (@elizTrovall) June 23, 2019Last month in June, the threat of raids diminished turnout in flea markets in Houston.In the Rio Grande Valley, patients didn’t turn up to their doctor’s appointments on the Monday after planned raids, even though they had been postponed. “We had a lot of people call and say ‘Oh I can’t make my appointment’ or ‘just for a couple weeks I’m going to stay home,” said Rebecca Ramirez Stocker, executive director of Hope Family Health Center in McAllen, Texas. “Our numbers dip, which is scary and it’s hard,” said Stocker, who knows many people avoid getting vital medical treatments because they are afraid of immigration law enforcement. last_img read more

4 Factors Behind Kashmere Highs Expected Passing State Grade

first_img Listen 00:00 /04:10 To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: Laura Isensee/Houston Public MediaTeachers and administrators at Kashmere High are focused on turning the school around this year and getting off the state’s list of struggling schools.The Texas Education Agency keeps a list of schools that must improve academically or face tough penalties. The school that’s been on that “failing” list the longest: the historically black Kashmere High School in northeast Houston.It hasn’t passed the state’s accountability system for over a decade. But that may change very soon. Before the summer’s over, Kashmere High is expected to finally get a passing grade.That’s despite doubts by many, even its own students, that Kashmere could improve in time, as reading coach Shundra Mosley explained at a community meeting last fall. “She told me, she said, ‘Miss, why did you come here? We bad, miss. Kashmere’s bad. Why did you come here?’” Mosley said, recounting a conversation with a student.“And I had to hold the tears back and I had to swallow a little bit and let her know that Ms. Mosley has been known to turn bad into good but I can’t do that by myself. It takes all of us and what we’ve come here to do. I said all that to say, their confidence is low because of what they’re hearing,” Mosley said.For at least the last two years, Kashmere’s students and teachers have heard that if they don’t improve, their school could be shut down — or the state could take over the entire elected school board of the Houston Independent School District, thanks to a law known as House Bill 1842. At least for Kashmere’s part, that threat appears to be waning. But just like the school’s struggle has been years in the making, so has its turnaround. News 88.7 looked back at four key changes that have helped the school improve.More access to social services: In 2016, Kashmere High opened a new service center with the help of the group, ProUnitas. There students could find a food pantry, mental health services and other support. It’s since evolved to include more wrap-around social services for students at all the schools in the neighborhood. Helping bring in that support: alumni, churches and community leaders, like Keith Downey. “It’s not someone else’s responsibility, it’s all our responsibility,” Downey told News 88.7 last fall.Community Support: Downey helped create a community council four and a half years ago for schools in Kashmere Gardens. He said that there are ongoing social service needs in the community, especially after Harvey hit Kashmere Gardens hard. “A lot of our children are hungry and we want them to pass a test to see where a school lies. But if you’re hungry in the mornings, then can an adult pass the test if they’re hungry in the mornings?”The community council holds regular meetings with principals and social service coordinators to check how they are doing academically and what kind of support they need. Downey said the social services and community support have been critical for Kashmere students.Stable Leadership: Chris Ray graduated from Kashmere High School and now sends his daughter there. He said that within the last 10 years or so, he hasn’t seen a principal who’s lasted long enough to watch a freshmen class graduate as seniors — and that churn in leadership drags down improvement. And Ray noted that it takes time to develop improvement in education: “You take a year to figure out the problem. You take the second year to implement some things to help solve the problem,” Ray told News 88.7 earlier this year. “In the third year, those things that didn’t work, you go back and reinvest more problem solutions. And maybe the fourth year everything turns around.”Ray said that recent principals have brought stability and momentum. In 2015, Nancy Blackwell came out of retirement from the Aldine school district to lead Kashmere High. She made sure all teachers were certified and got others more training. But, as she told News 88.7  in 2017, they missed the state’s grade by just a few points: “Coming close hurts, but coming close doesn’t count,” Blackwell said. Then came Hurricane Harvey, prompting the state to give Kashmere a one-year break from its accountability system. Consistency: Halfway through this past school year, Kashmere’s new principal Reginald Bush gave his prediction: “Consistency, consistency is the big piece.” In his first year, Bush has brought a military-style energy to campus. He’s put tutors in classrooms and encouraged students to join clubs. Along the way, they’ve celebrated small victories in ways students wanted, like fish fries and field trips, turning that doubt into confidence. “I think if we remain consistent, with the momentum that we have, there’s no doubt in our mind that Kashmere will receive distinctions this year,” Bush said.Kashmere High will get its official state letter grade in August when the Texas Education Agency releases them. However, if the school barely passes, the pressure for progress will continue, because Texas will expect more improvement the following year. center_img X Share last_img read more