We await HISD’s fate

I mean, I think we know what it’s going to be, but there are still some questions.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath came to and left the Greater Houston area Thursday without addressing one of the biggest issues on his agenda: the fate of Houston ISD’s school board.

In the coming weeks, Morath likely will be forced to decide whether to replace all trustees governing Texas’ largest school district or close one of HISD’s most historic campuses, the consequence of historic Wheatley High School failing to meet state academic standards for a seventh consecutive time. While Morath was in no mood to discuss the looming decision following the release of academic accountability ratings Thursday — he hurried out of an Aldine ISD school without answering questions or making a statement on HISD — a review of comments by the commissioner, his top deputies and state education leaders offers insight into the likely process.

Barring a successful appeal of Wheatley’s grade, which became public Thursday, Morath is widely expected to strip power from the nine HISD trustees and appoint a new board of managers comprised of Houston-area residents. The process likely would take multiple months to complete, with a replacement board seated sometime in early 2020.

“These are not going to be people that live in Austin,” Morath told the Houston Chronicle in the spring of 2018, when asked about the possibility of a state-appointed board taking control of HISD. “These are going to be well-qualified people that live in Houston that just didn’t want to run for school board before, but they wouldn’t mind being appointed.”

See here for the background, with the reminder that the Wheatley academic rating issue isn’t the only peril that the HISD Board faces. I was told by someone who teaches at Wheatley that their rating basically comes down to one student. The reason for this is that there are myriad sub-categories at each school that are also included in the accountability ratings, and not meeting standard in any one of them can cause the school to get an F even if the rest of their ratings were sufficient. It’s possible Wheatley could prevail in that appeal, and by all means they should pursue it, but as noted that would still not be the end of HISD’s troubles.

At this point it seems clear that the TEA will not close down Wheatley, which is the right call, so barring anything unexpected it’s all about how they go about replacing the Board. The Chron asks some good questions about how this may play out.

Intervention must be undertaken with respect and careful attention to community concerns. New board members must reflect the district’s diversity and its values. They must understand the communities they serve as well as grasp the importance of inclusion and best practices in their governance. The panel should include experienced educators, as well as candidates with financial expertise and civic involvement. There must be a clear plan for implementation, for measuring success — and a defined exit strategy.

Parents, educators, students and taxpayers, therefore, must step up to ask hard questions and demand that the state provide honest answers. How will members be chosen? What criteria will be used to ensure that state appointees prioritize the needs of HISD students? Will there be additional financial resources to help schools improve? Will a strong ethics policy be in place and enforced?

Above all, Morath and TEA must promise — and provide — transparency. Parents need to be confident that their children’s welfare is at the center of every decision, every discussion. Houston is done accepting any less.

As we know, and as both the story and the editorial state, the history of TEA intervention is mixed at best, so we better know going in what the goals are and what the path to achieving them is. Otherwise, we’re just wasting our time.

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3 Responses to We await HISD’s fate

  1. Manny says:

    The worthless Chronicle has failed to state that HISD is not taking it by lying down and surrendering to the Republicans. Since the Chronicle won’t do its job neither will the other media in Houston below is a link to the lawsuit that was filed by HISD, it is their first amended complaint. As they point out in their complaint every single district that the state has taken over was a minority majority school district. Do we expect anything different from the Trump loving Republicans?


  2. Ross says:

    Manny, WTF does the fact that the school districts taken over by TEA are all minority majority have to do with anything? That argument only holds water if the State didn’t take over districts that are majority Anglo that failed to perform up to standard. Being a majority minority district doesn’t give a free ride to avoid consequences for failing to perform.

  3. Manny says:

    I don’t know Ross, maybe discrimination, but you would’t know what that is. Why not read the complaint it is much more than that. I wrote what HISD is claiming go ask your trustee. So why are you asking me, do I believe that Trump loving Republicans discriminate yes, they talk like they do, they support white nationalist like Stephen King, so why wouldn’t I think that. Oh, I forgot you voted for Trump if I remember correctly.

    Again Ross HISD made the claim.

    You already made up your mind right Ross, that there is no discrimination, there are no white nationalist who are targeting certain people. Right Ross no discrimination against Gays as in the case in Florida. Those Jewish people no discrimination right Ross. Those African American praying in church, no discrimination. Us brown folks are staging an invasion right Ross it is not discrimination, right Ross. It is hate, right Ross not discrimination, right Ross. Of Course that guy from near Dallas drove all the way to El Paso because he loved driving right Ross.

    I don’t know if majority white district have performed poorly based on a test. That would be up to HISD to prove right Ross.

    So Ross why do you hate Davila?

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