Is anyone still defending Mike Miles?

Anna Eastman is out.

As a former Houston ISD parent and school board member, I initially encouraged Houstonians to be open to the state takeover and its potential benefits for our kids. I know firsthand that many things in HISD are broken. I truly believe we’ve been lying to many students and their parents about what they are getting from our schools when we hand them diplomas after spending up to 13 or even 14 years in our classrooms.

At the same time, things in HISD can and do work well for those who are privileged or savvy enough to navigate the system. I hoped the takeover would fix what’s broken and expand what works.

That’s why I was crushed at a recent event hosted by the Houston Landing. State-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles avoided answering thoughtful questions from graduating HISD high school seniors.


I learned the Japanese term kuuki yomenai, or “KY,” from my daughter’s Japanese-American college roommate a couple of years ago. It refers to people who can’t “read the air,” who don’t intuitively understand a given situation and behave accordingly — a highly valued skill in Japanese society.

I’m not sure there could be a more apt description of Mr. Miles’ demeanor and answers to the students’ questions.

Superintendent Miles visits many schools. He works very hard, and I think he believes he’s doing important work on behalf of Houston’s schoolchildren. I would agree that to some extent, particularly updating how we teach reading, this is true.

But to hear him tick off an impressive list of academic offerings in Dallas ISD as proof he was on the right track, apparently ignorant that HISD already offered all those things and more before he got here, was insulting.

Equally offensive was his response to brilliant, brave young people, who against many odds were realizing their and their family’s dreams of attending college. They asked how those who come after them will access and be prepared for college. Miles responded that he was going to offer more career and technology offerings. I know we need more quality, relevant career paths, but not at the expense of increasing college access for historically underrepresented students.

We have to make hard choices because our state government has failed to fund our public schools sufficiently. But are these really the choices we need to be making?

Over the last year, I have sat in countless meetings in meetings with non-profit boards, local foundations or over dinner with friends who worried about what the new HISD administration might do. I have repeatedly said, “No, they would never do that.” I honestly believed they would leave alone the things that worked. Now even Miles says that his biggest failure was not defining what autonomy meant for campuses.

About two months ago, I stopped defending the takeover. Now I fear that Miles and the nine appointed board membrs are wreaking havoc on schools that didn’t need fixing — havoc much like the storms last week that leveled many of Houston’s stately live oaks and left so many without power. They need to figure out how to read the air.

Eastman annotates the Q&A from that Landing story, so go read it for that information. I reached this point a long time ago, once it became clear that Miles was never going to give a straight answer about how he was going to finance the NES program, not to mention his dishonesty about central office cuts. I agree that changing how HISD teaches reading is a positive – maybe the one positive thing I can point to out of this debacle. It’s a significant positive, and if Miles’ tenure had been about that and really focusing on the schools and students that needed the most support, we’d be in a much better place. The combination of Miles’ ego, the complete lack of oversight or accountability he faces, the bizarre mission creep we’ve been subjected to, the disrespect for teachers and principals and everyone else – I could go on, but you get the point.

So to get back to my question, is there anyone out there that can credibly be called a supporter of public education who is still an advocate for Mike Miles? I have a hard time imagining it given the track record, but there’s always someone.

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8 Responses to Is anyone still defending Mike Miles?

  1. Meme says:

    John Whitmire and Marc Campos are still defending Mike Miles.

    Greg who often posts here defends Mike Miles.

  2. Review my past comments, Meme. When Miles was first appointed, I said put down the bullhorns and give him an opportunity to be successful. Like the rest of you guys, I have since been disappointed with his performance. HISD needed major reforms, but Miles tenure has, so far, been too disruptive. I hope he learns from this experience and does a better job next year. Given how adversarial things have become, I’m not optimistic.

  3. Meme says:

    Greg, was that a Yes, you defend Miles, or No, you are no longer defending Miles?

    I read it as we need to give Miles a chance to keep doing what the Fascist Party wants.

  4. C.L. says:

    Anna Eastman was on the HISD school board for the shitshow-ish eight years (2010-2018) and then encouraged Houstonians to be okay with the takeover….and NOW has an issue with the guy the State put in place ?

  5. Bill Brooker says:

    The Greater Houston Partnership is “all in” on Miles.

    Whitmire keeps rewarding the GHP with extra appointments and access

  6. Flypusher says:

    Lack of accountability tempts even a fair minded person to abuse power. Note than I’m not starting from an assumption that Miles is fair minded. At this point I don’t think he’s well intentioned either.

  7. Jonathan Freeman says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but beside the mayor, the GHP, Campos, and Greg, his biggest supporters are the governor, Lt. governor and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, the head of the TEA. Morath was unanimously confirmed by the state senate and I don’t think I’ve heard of any republican outcry whatsoever. That is all he needs to remain, this latest attempt to punish big cities and ISDs not the end of it unless people start changing how they vote.

  8. Meme says:

    That is why Democrats don’t win more often; they are so passive, while the other side only knows attack, attack, attack.

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