Mike Miles has been busy this week tearing our school district apart. He changes his plans so often and frames them with such slick aplomb that fact- checking him is as hard as it was to fact check Trump. 

Please make plans to ask questions at any of Miles’ community meetings next week, Tue (7/11) at Pugh ES or this Thur (7/13) at Marshall MS. RSVP at houstoncvpe.org/events.

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2000 HISD STAFF DID NOT GET PAID ON TIME: All over HISD, staff did not receive their paychecks on Wednesday. Last week, HISD sent termination letters to staff who were not actually supposed to be laid off. In June, HISD sent out numerous system-wide emails with incorrect information that they retracted in a substitute email minutes later. 

HISD is calling each of these mistakes a system glitch. This should really be called systemic failure. Miles is treating HISD like his personal fiefdom instead of an urban district with close to 200,000 students. It should surprise no one that things are falling apart. 

Miles replaced many of his Cabinet with people with little to no working experience running a large school district. They have established impossible timelines for restructuring the 30 NES Schools and reorganizing the Central Office and almost everyone not assigned to a school will have to reapply for their jobs this month.

ZOOM ROOMS for misbehaving children: The Houston Chronicle editorial board states that “While Miles said he intends to honor those needs and support “the least restrictive environment (for special education students)” he also raised our eyebrows, explaining that as part of a wider review of individualized education plans, some student plans could be rewritten.”  

He cannot so cavalierly disregard federal law and the wishes of parents who have a legally binding role in all Special Education ARD decisions about their child.

It makes us question who is giving him advice. It turns out that he has spent much of the month in meetings with former market share social impact education consultants, some of whom are now HISD consultants paid by Houston taxpayers. These include many from Kitamba and some from Good Reason Houston as well as cabinet members like Kerri Briggs, who most recently worked for Ed Direction, a collaborator with Kitamba. These organizations share a commitment to using standardized testing to rate teachers and narrow the curriculum as well to charter expansion.

Last week, a memo to principals indicated that “Central office will cover the cost of digital access and print materials for all products for the NES campuses, NES Aligned campuses, and NES Supported campuses. Any other campuses …must cover any additional expenses this year.” Some principals stated, off the record, that this memo gave them no choice but to align because they are too small a campus to pay for curriculum materials on their own. 

At least one school administrator told the Houston Chronicle that they had enrolled in the program out of fear their school would otherwise be reconstituted, meaning that the majority of their staff would have to reapply for their jobs."

On Wednesday, Miles made an odd video stating that now curriculum materials would be free to any campus. Yesterday, Miles told principals they have until Monday to back out of “voluntary” NES alignment.”

NES-aligned schools will not be reconstituted as part of their enrollment in the program, though teachers will be subject to evaluations that largely rate their performance on standardized test scores. Enrolling as an NES-aligned school will also remove much of the autonomy. Lesson plans will be prepared for teachers, and budgets will be largely controlled by the district. Schools will receive just $100 per student for discretionary funds and $100 per student for instructional supplies, and the district will handle other costs such as those related to curriculum or after-school activities.”

Miles’ plan is bad for children, teachers and schools. Teachers will leave HISD. Students are more than STAAR student outcomes and deserve rich meaningful instruction, not this. 

School starts in a month. 

Community Voices for Public Education



Working Together to Strengthen Houston's Public School System