Tell the superintendent and the unelected and unaccountable board of managers to stop harming our kids and communities. We want change, not a tired old script from 2012.
Will you speak or come to the HISD takeover board meeting on Thursday at 5 pm? Carpool with a neighbor. Bring a book to read during the meeting or a sign (no more than letter-sized paper) to quietly hold up during the sham board meeting.
This takeover is immoral and no amount of “good intentions” or Orwellian doublespeak will normalize it. Miles is making our schools worse and is harming our kids.
To speak, you must sign up by noon on Wednesday. Your testimony is so important. This is your chance to tell your truth to the board, the superintendent, to the media AND the general public. Details about most agenda items below. Click here for step by step instructions or attend a “how to register to speak session tonight (Tue) at 8:00pm. RSVP for zoom link at houstoncvpe.org/events.
Mike Miles says “We have to shift our concept of fun a little bit to say, it also includes when kids are learning, because when kids are learning and they get it, they're happy.”
But kids are not learning. HISD parents, staff describe the district's return to school under TEA control a “mess.” Here are a few parent and teacher comments.
Teacher: The kids are the reason I am going to get up and go back to work tomorrow. I do not even work at an NES school, but the culture of anxiety and fear on our campus today to play the game created by “leadership” in this district is not okay.
Parent: The students are overwhelmed, crying, and complaining as the teachers were giving tests on the first day. Superintendent Miles has to go. My child loved school before - this is untenable.
Teacher: COVID was a walk in the park compared to this. My admin are incredibly stressed out and that is a huge indicator how micromanaged they are experiencing from their superiors. THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. Not at all.
Parent: The current model at my kids' school doesn't allow for them to discover things through interesting lessons on stuff they care about. It's just drill and kill.
It is unconscionable to eliminate libraries and librarians and turn them into Zoom discipline centers in close to 87 NES and NES Aligned schools, all in poor neighborhoods.
It is unconscionable that teachers at most schools including non-NES schools are required to follow a thrown together, developmentally inappropriate curriculum with no regard for the needs of the ACTUAL students in the class. Timers on the slideshows require teachers to stop instruction every four minutes with a check for understanding.
If you missed the meeting last week, you can read this Houston Public Media article that includes the unholy fixation Miles has with the militarization of student learning-
“When administrators stop by classrooms for spot observations, they'll be watching to see if teachers use an approved "multiple-response strategy" every four minutes. The techniques, like having students pair up and work through a problem, are designed to check for understanding.
Teachers stated that the four-minute mandate is an overwhelming, ineffective strategy for most students, especially those who are just learning to speak English or who require special education services.
At the board meeting, protestors pushed back. A handful of community members, including current and former teachers, set four-minute timers on their phones and allowed ringtones to blare.
When board president Audrey Momanaee called the protest "inappropriate," the audience members argued that it's also not appropriate to mandate that teachers pause instruction every four minutes for assessments.
After the meeting, Miles said the four-minute strategy is guidance, not a district requirement. Even though the technique is explicitly outlined in the spot observation form, he said administrators should give teachers some flexibility.”
To those who say this is not happening in their school, please stand with families and teachers who are experiencing these harmful policies- dismantled libraries, open door policy, rigid, militarized school climate, bad curriculum, etc.
Can you speak up for all children even if the harm is not happening to you or your children?
Here is the agenda packet for Thursday. The takeover board will also meet at 4 pm for the “public hearing” about the district of innovation plan. You can sign up to speak at 4 pm as well.
Item 12 & 13: This is a change to board policy about reassignments. Miles is defining how teachers can be placed in the “excess pool” in the event of “a program change, current projected staffing needs based on the master schedule, school closure, or consolidation.
He has telegraphed here that he will close schools next year in communities that need a school the most. Miles further indicates that teachers with contracts who are placed “in the excess pool” can be terminated. He is essentially trying to turn every teacher into an at-will employee. Parents, please stand up for teachers so the best remain in Houston.
Item 3: Miles wants HISD to be a District of Innovation (DOI.) Most school districts that have adopted DOI have done so to waive the state’s uniform start date of the fourth Monday in August.
The state legislature should have changed the start date for schools to any date in August. Instead, in a continuing effort to dismantle public schools, they wrote the district of innovation law in 2015.
Under DOI, Miles would have the authority to change things that are important for student performance including raising class size limits or remove them entirely, eliminating employee contracts, certification requirements and even the removal of campus visitors. Here is a summary of DOI. This gives Mike Miles even more authority over our kids.
Mike Miles has a rubber stamping board. In August, he changed board policy so he could stack the district advisory committee made up of teachers, parents and community members with supporters of the takeover. The teachers will remain on the DAC but he will replace the 18 members chosen by the board with whomever he wants. He also can appoint additional members. Transparency and democracy should matter more than this.
Miles has proven that he will stop at nothing to eliminate rights to protect parents, students, and teachers.
Item 1: HISD Compensation Manual. “A copy of the proposed 2023-2024 HISD Compensation Manual is on file in Board Services.” Yet again, this hostile takeover board keeps the public and the teachers in the dark.
Item 2: The superintendent is lowering the tax rate even though he continues to spend money like a drunken sailor. “Legislation passed (in July) would raise the state’s homestead exemption to $100,000, lower schools’ tax rates and put an appraisal cap on residential and commercial properties, among other measures. But voters must approve a constitutional amendment first.”
Item 5: Approval of minutes from previous meetings. Speak about anything that has happened so far here.
Item 8 & 9: ELECTIONS: Our right to vote for people to represent us has been taken away because our elected board of trustees only has ceremonial power.. Not only is this takeover an education disaster, it is also an egregious voting rights violation and, if left to stand, will be a harbinger of things to come across the nation. If you want to speak about democracy, here is a good spot.
Item 10: Last month the board voted unanimously to raise the threshold for board approval from $100k to $1M. Miles now has blank check writing authority for contracts under $1M and the public will have no opportunity to provide input. If you think that Miles is spending funds incorrectly and want to talk about its impact on your child or your instruction, speak to this agenda item.
Item 11: This is a request for an exemption to the House Bill 3 provision to have an armed security officer on every campus. We support this item. If you have concerns about Miles' policy that doors must remain open during instruction except if the doors open to the outside, are in old buildings or if they are in a noisy hallway.
On Thursday, speak at the board meeting at 5:00pm. To speak, you must sign up by noon on Wednesday. Click here for step by step instructions to register to speak. You can also attend a “how to register to speak session tonight at 8:00pm. RSVP for zoom link at houstoncvpe.org/events.
This is our opportunity to speak, in public and in front of the media about the harm being done to our children, our teachers and the future of public education in the fourth largest city.
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