It has been 15 years since Hurricane Ike made landfall on the Gulf Coast and six years since Hurricane Harvey. These two storms had very different impacts on our region and provided different lessons for how we can be better prepared for weather disasters.
Teachers are the most important resource in a school campus, and ensuring students have access to highly qualified teachers is essential. Unfortunately for PK-12 students in Texas, too many teachers have been leaving the profession and too few highly trained and experienced teachers are taking their place. At the same time, some schools have greater access to highly qualified teachers than others, which poses an obstacle to closing achievement gaps.
The dream of homeownership remains an enduring aspiration for countless individuals and families across the United States. However, the reality often falls short, especially in urban areas grappling with housing affordability challenges, including Houston.
Regular physical activity may be the closest thing we have to a “magic bullet” to combat the obesity epidemic and alarmingly high rates of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity offers dramatic benefits for individuals but it also has the potential to knit together the social fabric of our communities, making us healthier physically and mentally. And it is free. So, what’s holding us back? As it turns out, something as easy as a safe walk around the neighborhood is out of reach for too many communities.
On May 11, 2021, Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research released the results of the 40th annual Houston Area Survey. Among the findings: 22% of respondents – a far higher share than in any previous survey – rated “public health” as the “biggest problem facing people in the Houston area today.”
This week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner warned that the state of Texas intends to take over Houston Independent School District as early as next week. As researchers who study education — and particularly education in Houston — we were asked: What would that mean for students?
When my family and I moved here from the East Coast in the early 1970s, Houston was a booming oil-based metropolis, riding the key resource of the industrial age to continuing prosperity. It was also world-famous for having imposed the fewest restrictions on development of any large American city. This was the undisputed energy capital of the world, the “Golden Buckle of the Sun Belt,” the bastion of classical laissez-faire capitalism, the epitome of “free enterprise” America — a city to be built almost entirely by developers’ decisions.
When English language proficiency is delayed among Houston-area students, a stark divide occurs. Today, the majority of English learners in Houston and across the state become “long-term English learners.” We now have an even clearer picture of what’s at stake and the need for early intervention. To borrow from the adage about the best time for planting trees: The best time to address the needs of English learners was years ago. The next best time is now.
This week, the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County is expected to vote on an update to the agency’s development policies—a key step as the agency fundamentally rethinks how it can influence the urban fabric of Houston so that more people can live in proximity to public transit.
The United States of America leads all high-income nations in COVID-19 deaths, even though as a nation it had the greatest access to antiviral vaccines and therapeutics. To understand this disconnect, we can look to the COVID-19 deaths and disability in the state of Texas. Because of COVID-19, Texas is enduring one of the greatest human tragedies in its 186-year history. It did not have to be this way.
Vision Zero has been changing traffic safety culture internationally since the 1990s, but in Houston, it did not begin until the 2010s. A traffic safety culture shift is happening among city leaders and within departments. However, transforming communitywide beliefs here will require meaningful engagement, clear strategies and sustained political will for the long road ahead.
It’s really quite a lovely park, with features that check all the standard boxes: a playground, a gazebo with a big table, a soccer field, restrooms and water fountains, a paved trail that winds through the property, and lots of plain old green space. On a recent weekday afternoon, though, a visit to Tony Marron Park on Houston’s East End revealed a few glitches.
My wife and I couldn’t believe it. When we retired and moved back home to Houston’s historically Black Pleasantville, just east of downtown, we smelled the unmistakable odor of the petrochemical plants and saw the close-knit community where we’d grown up surrounded by noisy freeways. The apartments where friends of mine lived had been replaced by warehouses swarming with old diesel trucks.
Water connects us, yet too often our region’s ongoing relationship with water presents itself as flooding that wreaks havoc and devastates all in its path. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, many efforts have emerged to try to rebuild our relationship with water from one of harm to one of resilience.
Natural disasters are increasingly common each year, affecting infrastructure and contributing to economic, social, health, and psychological hardships. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, it quickly amassed $125 billion in damages, displacing over a million people and their homes. Along with the economic toll of a disaster event, mental health concerns carry a cost that is difficult to measure.