Former Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles − described as a military-minded leader who pushes reform − is the state’s choice for the new Houston ISD superintendent.
Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced his long-rumored decision Thursday morning, the day after school ended for the 2022-23 year. Morath served on the elected Dallas ISD school board that hired Miles as superintendent there in 2012.
Miles inherits a district in Houston beset by declining enrollment and a subsequent budget crisis, along with a sizable segment of families, teachers and local leaders who condemn this takeover as a politically motivated attempt to weaken urban public schools. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle editorial board, Miles said he plans to spend his first year focusing on 30 of the highest need schools, introducing a “fundamentally different staffing model” that sees average teacher salaries rise to $85,000, but positions like librarians being cut.
He also pledged not to close any schools in his first year, but said there will “most likely” be closures down the line. He predicted his vision of a transformed HISD would take about five or six years to execute.
“We have to make progress this very first year, we have to get rid of this myth that it takes five or six (years) for one school to turn around. We’ve been able to do it in one year,” Miles said. “We can’t do 273 schools at one time, but we can make good progress on the 30 schools and grow that.”
It remains to be seen how much Miles, who most recently served as a charter school network CEO, will prioritize public engagement as he attempts to improve educational outcomes at struggling Houston schools. He leaves behind a reputation in Dallas as an innovative, but combative leader who sometimes derailed his own reform attempts by making enemies of district stakeholders, once going so far as to have a trustee physically removed by armed officers from a school that she represented.
“The challenge with Mike Miles wasn’t his ideas of turning around schools or trying to reform education, the challenge with Mike Miles was his approach with people. He’s a military-minded person, he came in saying ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ and he didn’t do well with Dallas politics,” said Edward Turner, a longtime Dallas education advocate.
While in Dallas, Miles was accountable to an elected board of trustees, at HISD he will be accountable only to a board of managers appointed by the same person who first brought him to Texas over a decade ago.
“I really think if your ideal person is somebody who doesn’t care about politics, will run a tight ship and turn something around, then Mike Miles is the ideal candidate for that,” Turner said.
We first heard Miles’ name as a possible appointed Superintendent two weeks ago. The Houston Landing did a long profile on him at the time, and they’re back with an in-depth interview and a companion piece with more details. I strongly urge you to read them, and to read the Chron editorial based on the ed board’s interview with him; there’s video of it (about 34 minutes) at the link.
Here also are your Board of Managers.
• Audrey Momanaee (recommended to serve as Board President): Ms. Momanaee is a Houston ISD parent and native Houstonian who grew up in a family of public school teachers and developed a strong sense of public service. Ms. Momanaee is an experienced litigation attorney and advocate for pro bono legal work, handling numerous cases to help families across Houston.
• Ric Campo (recommended to serve as Board Vice President): For more than 40 years, Mr. Campo has leveraged his energy, experience, and advocacy to build a better Houston. He has served on numerous public and private boards, in service to families, children, reducing homelessness, and promoting the city of Houston. Mr. Campo is the grandson of immigrant farmworkers and was the first in his family to graduate from college before successfully building his own company in Houston.
• Angela Lemond Flowers (recommended to serve as Board Secretary): An experienced educator, Ms. Lemond Flowers began her teaching career at Jesse H. Jones High School in Houston ISD, where her mother also taught. Ms. Lemond Flowers has devoted her career to the advancement of children’s education. She has served as a high school English teacher and in administrative leadership for over twenty years in Houston-area schools. She is the proud mother of four, including two Houston ISD graduates.
• Michelle Cruz Arnold, Ph.D.: The mother of a Houston ISD student, Dr. Cruz Arnold earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy and Planning and has spent more than twenty years as an education policy advocate working to create college and career opportunities for students. Dr. Cruz Arnold is a proud Houstonian who currently leads government relations and advocacy work for a national non-profit college access organization.
• Cassandra Auzenne Bandy: Ms. Bandy is a proud Houstonian, Houston ISD graduate, and parent of fourth-generation Houston ISD students. She is an active PTO volunteer at her children’s school. She is a chemical engineer by training and currently works as a business strategy manager at a global consulting firm.
• Janette Garza Lindner: Ms. Garza Lindner is a devoted wife and working mom of two children who attend Houston ISD schools. She is a management consultant within the energy industry, and her civic advocacy spans education, the arts, and making our neighborhoods safer and healthier. A life-long Texan, Ms. Garza Lindner was born and raised in Brownsville and has lived in Houston for more than 20 years.
• Rolando Martinez: Mr. Martinez is a native Houstonian, a Houston ISD graduate, and a parent of three children who all attend Houston ISD schools. He currently serves on the Houston ISD District Advisory Committee, and he works as a human resources manager at a large healthcare system in the Texas Medical Center.
• Paula Mendoza: Ms. Mendoza is a longtime Houston resident, the mother of a Houston ISD graduate, and a committed community leader and entrepreneur. She is a small business owner and has demonstrated her commitment to the Houston community through service on numerous non-profit and governmental boards, including the University of Houston Board of Regents, Texas Ethics Commission, and Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.
• Adam P. Rivon: Mr. Rivon is the parent of a Houston ISD student and is the founder and owner of a small business in the real estate industry. Mr. Rivon proudly served his country in the United States Army, earning a Bronze Star for leadership as an Army Artillery Officer during combat operations in Iraq.
Houston Landing and the Chron have additional info about these nine folks; the press release link I got from Campos. I have heard of Ric Campo and know/am friends with Janette Garza Lindner, who lives in my neighborhood; she was a candidate for HISD Trustee in District I, my district, in 2021. I don’t know anything more than what I read yesterday about the others, but offhand they look fine. I’ve said that we’d learn something about the TEA’s intentions from the Board they picked, so this is a good start. Given the unrepresentative demography of the applicant pool, they did a good job with that, too. Kudos to them.
I’m still mad that we’re in this position. I’m mad that the community has lost its voice, I’m mad at the state’s increasingly large appetite for bulldozing local control, and I’m deeply skeptical of the process and the belief that an administrative office that has no experience at managing schools or school districts has some special insight in running schools and school districts. I’m wary of Mike Miles, and even with my initial approval, this Board of Managers needs to prove itself. I see a lot more ways the next five to six years, as now-Superintendent Miles believes this will take, end in disappointment if not failure rather than anything that could be labeled a success.
But we need this to succeed, and I want it to succeed, because the children and families of HISD need and deserve it to succeed. We need to do better by our kids, and every year we don’t is a year they don’t get back. It’s a year that makes it that much harder for them to get educated and get on the path to a better life. I’m a political person and I can’t help but view this all through a political lens, but that’s not what really matters here. What matters is the kids. If Mike Miles and this Board can deliver on that, I’m still going to be mad about how we got here, but I can live with it. I wish them all well. Let’s stay focused on what matters and hold them to it. The Press, the Trib, and the TSTA have more.