HOUSTON — 9:55 A.M. UPDATE: The Texas Education Agency is taking over Houston ISD, the state’s largest school district, according to Texas Legislative Black Caucus.
Chairman Ron Reynolds, of Missouri City, has stated the following:
“Our goal with meeting with TEA Commissioner Morath was to find a local solution in good faith to address TEA’s concerns with HISD that do not involve taking away local control of the school district from its elected leadership and keeps our kids’ education in focus, especially as they are in the midst of a testing season. We are disappointed to learn that TEA will be moving forward with taking over HISD, a move that will affect over 194,000 students at 276 campuses across the district. If TEA can take over the 7th largest school district in the nation as a result of one underperforming school, who is to say other districts within the state of Texas won’t be next? Ultimately, we need to be focusing on the best ways to help serve our students and teachers, and a takeover of the school district, which we know has not worked in the past, is not the way to move forward. Research has shown that districts perform worse with test scores and student performance after the takeover of school districts. I invite my colleagues to support HB 3780 and to restore accountability when it comes to the TEA’s ability to take over school districts, because they deserve better, and frankly, the people deserve better.”
State Reps. Ron Reynolds said that the key meeting is going to be between Houston area lawmakers and the Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, who will lay out what's next for HISD. He'll then contact district leaders.
The Congresswoman also said she notified the U.S. Department of Education "that this discriminatory takeover may be happening imminently."
Houston lawmaker stands behind amendment allowing TEA takeover of HISD
As Houston lawmakers, educators, and community leaders wait on word from the Texas Education Agency on what’s next in a potential takeover of HISD, one Democratic lawmaker from Houston says he has no regrets about his amendment that made it possible.
“Absolutely not,” said Rep. Harold V. Dutton, D-Houston, on Tuesday, echoing comments first made in a Monday op-ed in the Houston Chronicle. “I live in the neighborhood and I have to look at all these students. Particularly, when you look at the students who are coming into our criminal justice system, they’re coming from the ZIP codes with the failing schools, and so why shouldn’t we fix these schools?”
The state representative, who serves on the House Public Education committee, said he was alarmed by chronic underperformance at schools in his northeast Houston district, noting at one point that Kashmere High School did not have a certified math teacher in more than 10 years.
Rep. Dutton said he introduced an amendment to a 2015 school accountability bill, HB 1842, to give the HISD board “skin in the game” and not just focus on wealthier schools on the west side.
The amendment required a school board takeover or school closure if a campus earned five straight years of failing state accountability ratings.
Rep. Dutton’s alma mater, Wheatley High School, hit that mark in 2019. Its ratings have since improved to a C.
“I know there are people that are saying, ‘Well, Wheatley’s doing better,’” said Rep. Dutton. “Well, that’s true to some extent, but at the same time, Kashmere High School, who had formally been a C, went back to basically an F.”
Even though district scores have improved and most HISD leadership has changed since 2019, Rep. Dutton thinks HISD should still be held accountable for past failures.
“This amendment affected every school district in the state, all 1,200 school districts, but the only one you hear screaming is which?” said Rep. Dutton. “(It) is the one who didn’t fix the failing schools.”