Why Houston’s New Superintendent Richard Carranza Became An Educator

What do Houston students and school leaders think about having a Latino as their superintendent? Does it matter?

By Laura IsenseeSeptember 21, 2016 9:30 am, ,

From Houston Public Media

When the Houston Independent School District hired its new superintendent, Richard Carranza impressed board members with some of his talents – his musical chops, for one.

He’s an accomplished mariachi musician. He started learning the traditional Mexican music at seven years old and has been inducted into a Mariachi Hall of Fame in his hometown of Tucson.

This week he transitions full-time to HISD’s new chief.

But if Carranza had followed the advice of his high school counselor, chances are he wouldn’t be in Houston, running the seventh biggest district in the country.

That guidance counselor told him, “Why do you want to take chemistry, Richard? Don’t you know we have advanced sheet metal fabrication? You should take that instead.”

Carranza already knew about sheet metal work. It’s what his dad did for a living. His mom was a hairdresser.

As he wrote in his job application to HISD, that advice to lower his ambitions had the opposite effect. Carranza decided to become an educator. His parents also wanted more for him.

“They knew that college and education was the path to a future. And they knew that that truly is the American dream, a future. That is my ethos that I bring to Houston that same promise to every child in Houston,” he said.

Carranza has started to meet students, like one class at Wisdom High School in Southwest Houston. It’s for teenagers who are brand new to the United States and learning English.

“Hi, my name is Luis Angel and I’m from Mexico,” said one student as they went around the room introducing themselves.

Like them, Carranza didn’t know English when he started school. Spanish is his first language; his parents spoke it at home to him and his twin brother Reuben.

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