As the Texas Education Agency continues to move forward with its hostile takeover of HISD we are getting glimpses of what lies ahead. Last week the TEA formally launched its recruitment and application process for the Board of Managers with two community meetings that were unmitigated disasters. The Houston Chronicle editorial board asked the question on all of our minds, If TEA can’t run a meeting, how can they run HISD?
TEA Deputy Commissioner of Operations Alejandro Delgado was unprepared and unwilling to answer basic questions at both the first and the second community meetings. He also did not have a Spanish language translator at the first meeting. Considering that over 42% of HISD students speak Spanish at home, this was a serious oversight and does not bode well for life under the TEA regime. Two more community meetings are scheduled this week. Parents, teachers and students will be at both meetings and the NAACP will be leading a protest outside on both days. Please join us! RSVP at houstoncvpe.org/events.
The Board of Managers (BOM) application itself is giving us further insight into the TEA’s ethical compass. According to the BOM job description, “involvement in a closed charter school” is a disqualification for the position. Charter schools are direct competitors to HISD.
Shouldn’t current involvement in an OPEN charter school be a disqualification? Most jobs prohibit working part-time for a competitor. Why is the TEA allowing this obvious conflict of interest? Oh, that’s right, it’s their clever way to hasten the privatization of Houston ISD schools. Charters, particularly so-called high-performing charters, purposefully under-enroll students with disabilities and other students who need us the most in order to artificially inflate their school A-F rating.
It is surprising that Steve Lechelop, TEA Deputy Commissioner of Governance and overseer of the HISD takeover, was not present at the community meetings. Lechelop was caught on a secretly recorded phone call advocating for Governor Abbott’s school voucher program.
A member of Abbott’s team had reached out to Lechelop asking if he knew of any parents that had had difficulties with their local traditional public school. Lechelop used his position as overseer of Compliance and Investigations to find a parent that fit Abbott’s voucher narrative. In the recorded call he encouraged the parent to meet with Abbott’s speechwriter because it would be “a good way for you to stick it to Joshua ISD.” Lechelop admitted that public school districts will see a decrease in funding if the bill passes this legislative session.
Clearly there is no daylight between the TEA and the Governor. Deputy Commissioner Lechelop has demonstrated he is a political hack and does not support the mission of Houston ISD or the other independent school districts in Texas.
It is long past time for us to face the facts; the takeover is rigged. The Board of Managers selection process will not be impartial. This is an application process for those whose ideology matches that of the governor. The hostile state takeover is all about politics and ideology and not our children.
Come to the next CVPE meeting on Saturday, April 1, from 1-2:30 pm at Trinity Gardens Church of Christ. We will form breakout groups to plan and strategize. RSVP at houstoncvpe.org/events/
Friday at 9am March against the Hostile Takeover/Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day. Meet at Cesar Chavez High School. RSVP at houstoncvpe.org/events
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