Houston Newsmakers: Former Prairie View A&M President Ruth Simmons speaks truth to power

Also: Research facts on Houston school district takeover failures

Power panel of Education for this week's Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall (KPRC)


  • Host Khambrel Marshall sits down with former Prairie View A&M president Ruth Simmons, who resigned from her post in February. She discusses her plans and the impact of politics in education.
  • Amid the state takeover of Houston ISD, experts with the Houston Education Research Consortium say the research is clear about past takeovers nationally.

Simmons steps down early from Prairie View A&M presidency

Ruth Simmons, Ph.D. Former President, Prairie View A & M University and current Rice University President's Distinguished Fellow (KPRC)

After six years at the helm of Prairie View A & M University, President Ruth Simmons had made the decision to retire as of June 1st. Those plans rapidly changed during a span of several days in January.

“The system approached me and asked me to stop making appointments,” Simmons said on this week’s Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall. Saying she expected to function as president until her retirement date, she said she asked for clarification and received no response from the Chancellor of the Texas A & M System.

The next actions that transpired were surprising and led to her early departure. She talks about what took place to hasten her exit.

Other comments of interest:

On the A & M Board of Regents: “There’s quite a bit of distance between what the regents understand about Prairie View and what Prairie View needs to do.”

On efforts to cut back African American Studies on college campuses: “Universities are about truth telling and promoting facts not foolishness.”

On the potential state take over of HISD: “Non-experts, reaching into the schools trying to determine what to do, that’s very flawed.”

She says MUCH more about the impact of politics in education, her accomplishments and Prairie View A & M and the new roles at Rice University and Harvard. She joins Kinder Institute Expert to talk about HISD and other topics in this weeks’ NEWSMAKERS EXTRA WITH THIS EDUCATION DREAM PANEL.

Kinder Institute experts on school district takeover failures

Erin Baumgartner, Ph.D., Director HERC at Kinder Institute at Rice University, Ruth Lopez Turley, Ph.D. Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research (KPRC)

As the Texas Education Agency considers taking over the Houston Independent School District, research experts at the Houston Education Research Consortium (HERC) at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, say the research is clear about past takeover efforts nationally.

“They must think there’s something about their plan that’s going to be different than what takeovers look like around the country,” said Erin Baumgartner, Ph.D. and Director of HERC. “What we see on average, they tend to not do much to support students and improve their outcomes.”

Ruth Lopez Turley, Ph.D., is the Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

“We want to make sure that people are aware of what the research has to say about state takeovers, which is not very promising,” she said.

Lopez Turley, Baumgartner and Simmons take part in this week’s HOUSTON NEWSMAKERS EXTRA.

For more information on this week’s Houston Newsmakers

· Ruth Simmons Ph.D., Rice University President’s Distinguished Fellow

· Website: https://news.rice.edu/news/2023/ruth-simmons-join-rice-presidents-distinguished-fellow

· Website: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2023/02/ruth-simmons-named-to-senior-post-advising-on-hbcu-partnerships/

· Ruth Lopez Turley, Ph.D., Director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research

· Website: https://profiles.rice.edu/faculty/ruth-n-lopez-turley

· Erin Baumgartner, Ph.D., Director HERC at Kinder Institute for Urban Research

· Website: https://socialpolicy.rice.edu/faculty-directory/erin-baumgartner-phd

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