People’s Report: HISD State Takeover

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Last Wednesday, sixty parents, teachers, and community members traveled to Austin to the State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting to provide the People’s Report on the Houston ISD State Takeover and its harmful impact on Houston schoolchildren.

"Who's monitoring the monitors of the monitor,” asked Houston ISD community member Stacy Hunter at the SBOE meeting last Wednesday. The HISD takeover was supposed to bring "accountability" to HISD, but no one is holding Mike Miles accountable, including Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath, who has the power to remove Miles and the unelected board of managers.

Some gave testimony at the SBOE meeting while others shared their stories with staff and elected members of the State Legislature. They spoke about the real harm to Houston schoolchildren and educators by TEA-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles. They spoke in response to a presentation that TEA Commissioner Morath was supposed to give about HISD. At the August SBOE meeting, an SBOE member had asked Morath to provide regular reports regarding the Houston ISD takeover, but Morath gave no update at all, instead speaking about special education.

You can watch the powerful testimonies at minute 1:09:00 (full testimony) and a shorter version here. The follow-up press conference is here.

Share YOUR testimony here!

During the people’s testimony,  the SBOE chair repeatedly interrupted speakers admonishing them to stay within the bounds of the item being discussed, which was purportedly special education. The impassioned speakers found ways to relate their testimony to other areas in which the SBOE has jurisdiction including the TEKS, graduation rates, and training of local boards.

The exchange revealed how little oversight there is for the TEA takeover process and how beholden that process is to Commissioner Morath, who was not in the room, and to Governor Abbott who appointed him. While the SBOE claims no statutory authority to intervene, they can demand clearer answers from Morath during his largely self-directed presentations. 

The State Board Chair told us to file a grievance with our local district, but we don't have an accountable board- so there is no chance that will work. The SBOE Chair also told us we could appeal a decision by our local Board of Managers to TEA if it violates state law. Mike Morath is in charge of TEA; he appointed Mike Mikes and decided to take over our district. So he is invested in Mike Miles- not the Houston community. TEA is not a neutral organization. So what do we do?  That's why we went to Austin.

The already harmful impact of the Houston ISD takeover raises serious questions about how well-equipped the TEA is to serve Texas students, especially special ed students whose needs are not being met by the rote "death by powerpoint" they are being subjected to under Miles’ tyrannical rule.

While the State Board of Education has no direct authority over state takeover, we have no elected and accountable public official to address the harm being done to the largest school district in Texas. If it can happen in Houston ISD, it can happen anywhere in Texas.

Share your testimony here! Fill out this takeover report tool with your story or upload your speech. We will share it with state and federal officials who have oversight over state and federal law. Our children deserve no less.



Working Together to Strengthen Houston's Public School System