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Monday, June 5, 2023





Houston, we have a problem. And that problem is the hostile takeover of HISD. But fear not, dear readers, for the people of Houston are not taking this lying down. They are protesting, and they are protesting hard.

On Thursday, June 8th, at 4:15 p.m., a group of Houston organizations will gather at the Hattie Mae White Education Support Center to show their displeasure with the new Texas Education Agency-appointed superintendent, Mike Miles, and the nine-member board of managers that are replacing the elected HISD board of trustees. And they're not just going to stand there with signs, oh no. They're going to protest with style.

The protest will feature a short press conference before the 5:30 p.m. board meeting, where HISD parents, staff, and students will speak. But this won't be your run-of-the-mill press conference. No sir, this press conference will feature juggling clowns, a mariachi band, and a guy dressed up like a giant pencil.

The protest organizers have also arranged for a special guest speaker: Beyoncé. Okay, so maybe it's not actually Beyoncé, but it's a guy who kind of looks like her if you squint really hard and have had a few too many margaritas. He'll be giving a rousing speech about the importance of public education and the dangers of standardized testing.

But why are these Houston organizations protesting in the first place? Well, it all comes down to the state's process interfering with the local electoral process. And also because they're really pissed off.

Opponents of the takeover have also said the state oversight doesn't address district needs, including additional funding and resources for students in economically disadvantaged communities. And they have a point. You can't just swoop in and take over a school district without providing the necessary support.

But it's not just about the lack of funding and resources. It's also about the new superintendent's initiative that requires staff at 29 schools in the district to reapply for their own jobs. This has understandably caused some concern among the teachers and staff who remember the program instituted more than a decade ago by former HISD Superintendent Terry Grier.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Grier's model—Apollo 20— focused on student achievement, which included longer instructional days with more test prep and ousted many educators who were deemed ineffective. And we all know how well that worked out.

"Blackshear [Elementary] had nine principals in ten years because of its unrelenting focus on chasing STAAR scores," said Ruth Kravetz, an organizer with Community Voices for Public Education. And who wants to work in a school where the principal changes more often than your underwear?

Since Miles announced his plans for the district, Kravetz said she'd heard more and more concerns from parents on future focus on test scores, standardized testing and assessments, instead of students' overall success. And who can blame them? Nobody wants their child's education reduced to a series of numbers on a piece of paper.

"More people are opposed to the takeover today than they were yesterday," she said. "Every parent that I've talked to in the last few days...and other people I know are uniformly afraid for the future of public school in Houston." And that's why they're protesting. Because they care about their children's education and they want to make sure that it's not being sacrificed for political gain.

So if you happen to be in Houston on June 8th, swing by the Hattie Mae White Education Support Center and show your support for public education. And who knows, maybe you'll even get to see Beyoncé.

Houston organizers plan protest following TEA takeover of HISD 

Hundreds of Houston ISD students stage walkout to protest TEA takeover via @YouTube