Building Educational Equity to Create Opportunity: Richard Carranza

To commemorate Hispanics in Philanthropy’s 33rd year, we honored 33 Latino leaders who inspire as our 2017 HIPGivers. Read HIPGiver Richard Carranza’s story below.

For Richard A. Carranza, the newly appointed Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, education has always represented a powerful gift brimming with opportunity. But he knows how hard it can be to reach for that opportunity. A high school guidance counselor once suggested that a class in sheet metal (his father’s career path), might be a better choice for the youngster than taking chemistry.

“As a son of blue-collar workers who started school not knowing a word of English,” Carranza said, “I have the opportunity and extreme privilege to lead a School District—62 percent of its students Latino—where I can fight for an equitable education for students and ensure that my community’s voice won’t go unheard or be minimized.” Carranza obtained a bachelor’s in secondary education from the University of Arizona and a master of education with distinction from Northern Arizona University. He paid for some of his schooling by performing in mariachi groups.

Carranza then went back to teach in his Tucson high school and started working his way into administration. He is a former regional superintendent for Las Vegas-area public schools in Clarke County, Nevada, and was the most recent Superintendent for the San Francisco Unified School District before moving last August to the Houston system.  Carranza’s career in education has been dedicated to ensuring that all students receive an excellent education. Furthermore, in seeking to lead the transformation and re-imagination of the public school system, he recognizes the changes must also be systemic.

We must have a system that addresses longstanding disparities and inequities, while also making classrooms vibrant and more engaging centers of learning that prepare all students for thrilling career and life opportunities.

The Houston Superintendent has also taken on national leadership roles, having recently chaired the Board of the Council of the Great City Schools and as the Board Secretary for the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents; a Board Director for the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future; the American Association of School Administrators Executive Committee, and the K to College Advisory Board. He has also been a member of the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors, and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco Board of Trustees.

A longtime supporter of Hispanics in Philanthropy, Carranza’s way of giving back appears fully aligned with HIP’s mission of strengthening Latino equity, voice and leadership while embracing the core values of empowerment, inclusion, and social justice.

My journey as an educator and my personal commitment to our students and their families is about strengthening educational equity, augmenting the voice of students and their families and empowering the next generation of leaders in this country.

“Latinos give from their soul in order to better their community and provide opportunities for the next generation,” he added. Fortunately for us, Carranza has taken this cue from his community and continues to pay it forward.

Feeling inspired? Read fellow HIPGiver Chris Cardona’s story and let the uplifting vibes continue!