Cheryl Hensley, a librarian in HoustonThe start of the school year was exciting for. A veteran of four decades in the city’s public school system, she had stocked her library at Lockhart Elementary, a mostly Black school, with $40,000 in new books, and won a statewide award For her work.
Then, late last month, Ms. Hensley, 62, was told she was no longer needed: The school’s library would be one of dozens turned into multipurpose computer rooms and This is used in part to discipline.
It is a decision that librarians will be fired and effectively close libraries in some of the city’s poorest schools has been the most contentious yet made by a new set of Houston The district has imposed public school leaders and You can find out more about it here. 187,000 mostly Black and Hispanic students The administration of Governor Greg Abbott. Greg Abbott.
The State of Texas This spring has taken over. Houston Independent School District, one of the nation’s largest school systems, and Replace its elected school Board and Superintendent. It had taken years to plan the move, after chronic poor performance at some schools, past allegations of misconduct by school trustees and changes in state law — backed by a moderate Black Democrat from Houston — that made it easier for the state to take over school districts.
Since then, the new superintendent — a former Army Ranger, State Department diplomat and The founder of the charter school network has no official certification For the best, Houston job — has moved swiftly to adopt a new plan for educating the district’s children, focusing on rapidly improving reading and Math scores for dozens of elementary grades and middle schools.
“The future is here, and we’re behind,” Mike Miles said this at a meeting of the community held in February, when he described persistent gaps in achievement between schools. Houston You can also learn how to pronounce the word “youthfulness” and Other people around the State and between the district’s Black and Hispanic Students and They are white students. “It means we have to do bold things now.”
State takeovers of troubled local school systems — a common occurrence around the country — have a mixed record of success, said Beth Schueler, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Education who has studied them. Those that succeeded were generally carried out in districts that were already among the nation’s lowest performing, she said, and In general, the effects of these policies have been neutral or even negative.
“This is one of the largest takeovers we’ve had,” She said that Houston, and It could be a path for other people to either follow or avoid.
Many parents have expressed concern about the new administration that began in this year. and Teacher in HoustonA city that is strongly Democratic complained of the lack of participation in their schools. and Worried that state Republican leaders’ ultimate goal was to undermine public education and Driving a car is a great way to get around. Houston Families who send their children to private or charter schools.
Parents are not the only ones who can be affected. and Several of the new board members said that the district did not do enough to educate the students at its failing schools and We urge patience for the new leadership.
As Mr. Abbott was a Republican, the takeover began in spring. and Charter school supporters were criss-crossing Texas To promote the use state money to private school vouchers. Governor said that his efforts to promote “parental empowerment” The separation of the Houston Takeover that he called for since at least 2019. The Texas education commissioner, Mike Morath, has said The takeover was needed to make rapid changes in the worst-performing schools despite the improvements that had been made before. Last year, the district was able to improve its performance. earned a “B” grade from the state.
The critics are becoming louder as the 28th of August approaches. On Saturday, more than 200 people gathered in protest outside the district’s headquarters. “Houston Occupied School District,” Read one sign “Even prisons have libraries,” Continue reading
“It doesn’t feel right,” Jessica Campos is a 41-year-old parent who works at Pugh Elementary School, which has a Spanish and English dual language program. She said the school will undergo immediate change. “I lose sleep over this. It’s a serious thing. These are our children and we’re not having a say in our children’s education, and that is not OK.”
According to the new administration, it hopes to create an a “new education system” in elementary and Middle schools are a feeder for low-performing high schools. New approach includes reading as a priority. and Math: Paying teachers more for higher scores on standard tests and Other staff can take on time-consuming jobs, like making copies or marking work, or even writing lesson plans. The schools will hire members of the community to teach elective classes like photography and spin classes.
The plan would see some libraries at schools become “team rooms,” A department spokesperson acknowledged that the term “disrupting class” may have been a little misleading. Students who were sent to this classroom for disruptive behavior would spend most of their time sitting at their desks and watching classes on their laptops.
Mr. Miles said given the limited space and Resources, this decision is a trading-off and It is still possible for students to take out books from libraries that are converted into teams rooms.
Still, Sylvester Turner, Houston’s mayor, said the effort risked creating two systems.
“He’s gone too far, and he’s dismantling the largest educational district in the state of Texas,” Miles, Mr. Turner told Mr. Miles during a City Council hearing last month. “You cannot have a situation where you are closing libraries for some schools in certain neighborhoods, and there are other neighborhoods where there are libraries, fully equipped. What the hell are you doing?”
Politic tensions have risen at a time when they are particularly acute. Texas As the Republican-dominated Legislature attempts to limit Democratic-led Cities on various fronts, it limits local powers to create ordinances specific to each city, and curtails efforts to reform criminal justice. andThe state has sent troopers from Austin to patrol the city streets.
It also happened at the same time as a national conservative campaign to change public school policy, which promoted candidates to run in local school boards. and Limiting the use of racism in education and gender, and The types of books that are available in the school library
Some parents have been convinced by the backdrop and Teachers are a great resource for learning. Houston It is clear that this takeover has political motivations.
Local school boards have been under Democratic control for many years. The local school board has been firmly under Democratic control. board of managers Nominated by: Texas Education Agency. One school board member had been replaced by the loser of the previous election.
“It’s devastating,” Elizabeth Santos, the replacement member was said to be. “They tried to defeat me and failed. Then Greg Abbott and Mike Morath put her in.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas The takeover has disenfranchised the voters of color that elected the previous school board and A Justice Department inquiry has been requested.
But Mr. Miles and Said he should get a shot at succeeding. “We believe that no one chooses to sit at that dais who doesn’t have the best intentions for students in their heart,” Four board members wrote in The Houston Chronicle.
Tish Ochoa, who serves as a parent representative on an advisory committee for the district, said she liked aspects of the new approach — including cutting staff and costs at the district’s central office in order to spend more money on low-performing schools — but said the district needed to do a better job communicating and listening.
“I am not pro turning libraries into discipline centers,” Ms. Ochoa said. “I am pro a superintendent who is honest about our problems. The bottom line is, in some of these schools, kids can’t read.”
First, the plan focuses on 28 basic elements and Middle schools are feeders for underperforming high school, such as Wheatley High School. Its poor results allowed it to be a feeder. Texas Education Agency, under state law, to take over the Houston district. More than 50 other schools have also opted into aspects of Mr. Miles’s plan.
Mr. Mr. and He was the Dallas superintendent before establishing the Third Future Schools network. David DeMatthews was a University of Texas According to a professor at the College of Education in Austin, the school system there has not improved by any national standards. and Teacher turnover increased dramatically. More recently, Mr. Miles’s company has pointed to higher scores in smaller Texas School districts partnered with Third Future Schools.
In a summer series of talks to parents who were sometimes hostile, Mr. Miles talked about preparing his students to work in an environment where the technology is constantly evolving. The artificial intelligence was a frequent theme in his remarks.
A predominantly Black Middle School in South Houston He was informed by Ms. Hensley that she had been fired. She said that part of her job involved computer literacy and The lending of books and creating a community are both important. The room was filled with applause.
“Everything is good,” Mr. Miles says, as he shrugs. “Everything is important,” He said. “It’s not that I don’t like libraries. We’re not trying to get rid of all the libraries. We have to prioritize resources.”