Texas will take over Houston’s public school district, one of the largest in the U.S.

Texas officials announced Wednesday that they will take over Houston’s public school district, the eighth-largest in the U.S., deepening existing tensions between local Democratic leaders and the Republican-dominated state House. Will be.

In a ___ Letter Sent to Houston Independent School District (HISD) superintendents and board members, Education Commissioner Mike Morath said recipients of the letter will be replaced by a new superintendent and board of managers selected by the Texas Education Authority (TEA). They will be formally appointed on June 1.

Houston Schools Takeover
People hold signs at a news conference in Houston on March 3 to protest a proposed takeover of the city’s school district by the Texas Education Agency.

Juan A. Lozano/AP

Morath alleged that the board failed to improve student performance in Houston, citing as an example Wheatley High School, which received a failing grade from the TEA in 2019. Additionally, Morath accused the board of holding “board meetings due to chaos,” adding that the investigation revealed “numerous violations of law in the district.”

“The district’s approach to supporting students with disabilities also continues to violate state and federal law,” Morath wrote, citing “significant systemic compliance issues, including not delaying students’ access to special education.” Includes continued inability to provide services.”

State Democratic lawmakers called the seizure “deplorable” and “disrespectful.” Press conference After the morning announcement:

“Today is a very – and very dark day for HISD and the many black and brown students and communities that are within HISD,” said state Rep. Ron Reynolds, chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. It was also coming after showing “consistent exemplary growth” over the past five years.

“Despite all of this, it’s wrong to take over the district now,” Reynolds said, adding that students and teachers “will pay the price.”

The ACLU condemned the takeover, writing on Twitter that “anti-occupation threatens to close schools, fire teachers, and take away the power of local communities to elect their own leaders.” In a city already burdened by a teacher shortage..

“The state takeover of HISD is not about public education — it’s about political control of the 90 percent black and brown student body in one of the most diverse cities in the country. And that’s not something our students and teachers want. required,” the ACLU continued.

The Texas State Teachers Association also spoke out against the takeover, which it called “an injustice to students and teachers” in a statement posted on Facebook.

“The commissioner is not responsible to the parents and taxpayers of HISD,” Morath’s teachers association wrote. “she is
The only person responsible is Gov. Greg Abbott, whose top education priority is taking millions of dollars in tax money from HISD.
and other public school districts and transferring it to unorganized private schools. Abbott is less interested in helping HISD and other public schools than he is in privatizing them.”

TSTA: State takeover is unfair to HISD students and teachers (3-5-21). Visit our website at https://tsta.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/20230315TSTA-State-takeover-HISD.pdf

Posted by Texas State Teachers Association On Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The teachers association also noted that it is partially captured by student performance on a standardized test called the Starr, which it says is “an accurate measure of student progress – and has never been”.

While student progress in Houston has indeed declined since the pandemic, the trend is not unique to the city, as performance in schools across the country has struggled to return to 2019 figures.

In 2022, the National Assessment of Educational Progress It found that math and reading test scores dropped across the country after the pandemic. Scores for fourth- and eighth-graders in both categories fell significantly from their 2019 counterparts, as did math scores. Their biggest drawback Since the initial assessment in 1990, and on reading scores Their lowest level in three decades.

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