Local board members say state lawmakers want to take over public schools

HISD board members said on Wednesday they feel state lawmakers are trying to take over public schools but do not have an invested interest in the schools.

Is the state of Texas going to "take over" the Houston Independent School district? That's what some local board members are afraid may happen. 

A new law makes that possible and two HISD trustees believe it’s a move to target public education and minority neighborhoods.

House Bill 1842 says “If a campus is assigned an unacceptable rating under TEC, §39.054(e), for a fifth consecutive year, the commissioner shall order the appointment of a board of managers to govern the district or closure of the campus.”  

The following HISD schools are currently on that list:

Kashmere High School
Wheatley High School
Worthing High School
Blackshear Elementary
Dogan Elementary
Highland Heights Elementary
Kashmere Gardens Elementary
Victory Prep North
Victory Prep South
Woodson School
  
HISD has 215,000 students and 283 campuses.

If just one campus qualifies, a board of managers could be assigned to take over the entire district.

On August 15, 2017, the Texas Education Agency will release its annual list of accountability rankings, so HISD is hoping its list will grow smaller.

HISD school board president, Wanda Adams, and board member, Rhonda Skillern-Jones, held a press conference on Monday.

They believe this is part of a larger move to replace public education with private education.

Skillern-Jones said, “This is just the next gateway into dismantling public education, period. If you are able to do this in the largest district in Texas, then that allows you to then set the precedent.”

She added, “It's a national trend and it’s coming from the culture in this country of using the last pot of public money for private profit.”

President Adams said, “Remember these are all schools in historically disadvantaged, historically African American communities. Who closes schools in African American communities? Who does that?”

Both trustees added that new leadership was appointed to Kashmere two years ago and it has made good strides, but HISD needs more time.

While agreeing education standards need to be higher, they want the state to increase funding to help meet those standards.

HISD released the following statement Wednesday evening:

"Houston ISD is aware of major concerns the Texas Education Agency has expressed regarding several of our schools considered "chronically underperforming." HISD shares the agency's concerns and is working closely with TEA on the transformative work we must do at the local level to ensure every HISD student receives an excellent education. HISD leadership remains committed to creating global graduates, regardless of their zip code or circumstances."

For more details from the Texas Education Agency, click here. 

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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