Hurricane Harvey was the most damaging rainstorm in US History and the Commissioner wants to harm children in poor communities even more by closing schools this year! A growing number of Houstonians, including many elected state officials,and the mayor, are joining HISD in calling on the Texas Education Agency Commissioner for a post-Harvey pause on accountability and stay of sanctions for HISD.
Will you customize this letter, mail to the Commissioner, and share with your friends? The Commissioner needs to hear from all of Houston about how our children, particularly children of color and those in high poverty neighborhoods, have been affected by the storm and the need for stability and support - not school closures - at this time.
<<Your name or your organization's name on letterhead
The Honorable Mike Morath
Commissioner, Texas Education Agency
Dear Commissioner Morath,
Thank you for serving Texas’ students. Public education is the ladder to success for millions of students, and we look to you and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to help our local school district accomplish this goal.
We are deeply concerned about the possible sanctions against 10 underperforming Houston ISD schools. In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed a new state law, House Bill 1842, which says if a school is underperforming for five or more consecutive years, the Commissioner of Education must close the school, or appoint a board of managers to oversee the entire school district. The tricky part with this new law is one school decides the fate of the entire school district.
As community members, parents and alumni of these 10 campuses [or in other HISD schools if this applies to you] subject to state sanctions, we urge you to pause accountability ratings and halt all pending state sanctions for one year. The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey lingers in our schools, churches, homes and neighborhoods. Our communities have been through trauma and loss. The right response for all schools is a reprieve on accountability ratings and sanctions.
However, a state-ordered campus closure or a state-appointed board of managers adds anxiety to an already stressful school year. A board of managers means our community loses its ability to elect trustees to serve us on the school board – that’s a violation of local control and democracy. In addition, we firmly believe these sanctions will punish hard-working students, principals, and teachers one year after many of them lost everything.
After the Governor’s directive to TEA on testing and accountability waivers, we saw TEA’s memo to school districts dated December 15, 2017. The memo said, “Note that while some campuses hard-hit by Harvey may be given labels of ‘Not Rated,’ applicable sanctions and interventions will still be administered.”
A “Not Rated” designation for schools affected by Harvey is a step in the right direction, but we want to make sure our black and brown schools are included in any reprieve on accountability ratings and state-imposed sanctions.
This is personal for us. These are our schools. This is our school district. We are prepared to stand in the gap for Kashmere, Wheatley, Worthing, Blackshear, Dogan, Mading, Highland Heights, Wesley, Henry and Woodson. We invite you to visit our classrooms and watch our students in action. They are pushing themselves every day. Like us, they know what is at stake. Harvey caused enough disruption this school year.
We urge you to stand with us as concerned voters, taxpayers, and parents of Houston. We need you to join us to save our schools. We are in a fight for survival. Our children do not deserve major disruption from the state in 2018. The only thing our children need is a helping hand, and adult hearts making the right decisions for them – decisions that ensure their success in school and in life.
Or email and call the TEA Commissioner at