Holdsworth Center a boost for public ed

At a time when things are looking pretty grim for public education at the state and national level, Texas school administrators received a much needed vote of confidence from H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt.

For decades the grocery store magnate and his family have given generously to promote excellence in public education. A recently announced $100 million legacy gift to fund the creation of an educational leadership institute for Texas public school administrators will go a long way to support those who have worked tirelessly for decades with a broken public school finance system and a high stakes accountability system.

H.E.B.’s Charles Butt has generously donated to create the Holdsworth Center to train school administrators. The center is named for his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, who was a school teacher before she married.

H.E.B.’s Charles Butt has generously donated to create the Holdsworth Center to train school administrators. The center is named for his mother, Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, who was a school teacher before she married.

The Holdsworth Center, named after Butt’s mother Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, who was a school teacher before she married, will be located in Austin. It will serve the more than 1,200 school districts across the state. In its inaugural year the center will begin a two-year leadership training program for superintendents. The second year the center will see the launch of a two-year program for principals.

Participants in the institute’s training will be exposed to leadership experts from the public and private sectors, provide an opportunity for the sharing of best practices and will include international travel to study effective programs in operation.

The center is a game changer for Texas public education. Some districts are effective at developing in-house talent, which allows them to promote from within. However many districts lack the resources necessary to accomplish that and often have to pay top dollar for nationwide searches for top administrative slots.

Having the right leadership in place is key to a school district’s success. It is estimated that more than 3,000 administrators will benefit from the center’s services in the first 10 years.

The center will begin training this summer with representatives from six districts selected from a short list of 15 that have been invited to apply. The San Antonio Independent School District is among those that made the list.

With a teacher shortage on the horizon, the state needs to focus on attracting more people into education careers. The competition for good teachers is usually not about money; most districts offer the same basic salaries. Workplace environment and culture can be deal breakers.

Developing strong leadership will have a lasting impact on the quality of classroom instruction for the state’s 5.3 million public school children.