City Council versus HISD

I doubt they can do anything, but I’m happy to watch them try.

One year after the state takeover of Houston Independent School District, some City Council members are urging Mayor John Whitmire to take a more proactive approach in influencing the decisions of state-appointed superintendent Mike Miles.

Empowered by a new measure that allows council members to introduce proposals without the mayor’s approval, six members are banding together to push for a resolution condemning the widespread job cuts for HISD teachers, custodians and principals for the upcoming school year. The statement also expresses solidarity with all school district students and employees.

“The recent abrupt layoffs of hundreds of dedicated HISD employees, executed without sufficient notice or transparency, have caused significant distress within the community,” the proposed resolution reads. “The City Council disagrees with the lack of foresight, sensitivity, and transparency exhibited by HISD’s current leadership in handling significant organizational changes.”

Council Member Edward Pollard, spearheading the resolution effort, said he initially took a “wait and see” approach when state leadership first took control of the school district last year.

“I wanted to give them time to allow them to lead,” Pollard told the Chronicle. “But this one right here with the mass layoffs could no longer be ignored.”

He expressed frustration, in particular, over the departure of Amanda Wingard from Neff Elementary, a school in his district. Wingard, honored as HISD’s Principal of the Year in 2023, confirmed in a recent Facebook post that the district had asked her to resign.

Acknowledging the city’s lack of jurisdiction over the school board’s decisions, Pollard said Houston’s elected officials should still find ways to exert their influence. He said Whitmire, with decades of experience in the state legislature, should leverage his relationships to advocate for HISD teachers and families.

There’s layers to this one, beginning with Mayor Turner versus Mike Miles and the whole Prop A saga, for which CM Pollard appears to be the main protagonist. I’m going to make sure the popcorn machine is in peak working condition going forward.

As the story notes, Mayor Whitmire has discussed HISD and Miles before, and at the time (in January) he declined to mix it up, on the grounds that he wanted to do the whole “work with everyone and come to an understanding” process. Which, fine, perfectly reasonable for a brand new Mayor, especially one who campaigned on his chumminess with the Austin power brokers. That was then and this is now, and an awful lot of people are very mad about the state of HISD, the seemingly capricious ways in which well-loved teachers and principals are being shoved out the door, and so on.

Is that a matter on which the Mayor and City Council should be getting involved? CM Pollard and his co-sponsors (CMs Plummer, Alcorn, Thomas, Evans-Shabazz, and Jackson) would like to, though they understand that there’s not much beyond making noise they actually can do. If they want to put Mayor Whitmire on the spot, and nudge him to use those fabled connections to maybe get Mike Miles to listen to someone other than himself, I don’t see any reason why not. We’ll see how the Mayor responds.

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12 Responses to City Council versus HISD

  1. Meme says:

    Hopefully, I am wrong, but I believe that Whitmire is one of Abbott’s puppets.

  2. Jonathan Freeman says:

    Whitmire is no more an Abbott Puppet than Charles is, his voting record for core Democrat sponsored legislation being the antithesis of our common foe. If there was some statutory manner the mayor could have a real impact on the matter, I believe he would try but wasting precious political capitol just to make some noise with a state appointed hack known for ignoring critics when there are higher priority issues to deal with seems frivolous.

  3. Greg Shaw says:

    City would be nuts to get into the HISD mess. City has it’s own problems to worry about.
    The only way to free HISD is a political earthquake in Texas come November 26.

  4. Meme says:

    Just bringing out the DINOs if, in fact, they vote for Democrats.

    Who was it that ran back to Austin and got a committee chair?

  5. The Republican Party is increasingly being dominated by extreme, right-wing, MAGA types. That alienates at lot of mainstream, moderate voters. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party can’t take advantage of the situation because it is increasingly dominated by extreme, left-wing types who push away moderates, calling them DINOS. Whatever happened to the Democratic Party being the big-tent Party? We better get our sh*t together or Trump is going to win (again) in November.

  6. C.L. says:

    Preach, Greg.

  7. Meme says:

    BS Greg, Biden is a moderate and has always been a moderate. If you think people who are different should not have the same rights that white men do, then I can see why you would believe that the Democratic Party has become an extreme left-wing type.

    Caring about climate control is so extreme, isn’t it?
    Caring about all the deaths caused by guns is so extreme, isn’t it?
    Caring about affordable health care for Americans is so extreme, isn’t it?

    I could go on, but you keep thinking you are a moderate Greg if it makes you feel better.

  8. Meme says:

    FYI, Greg, if you being called a DINO is a reason to vote for Trump-type people, then you have very weak principles.

  9. C.L. says:

    Everyone who disagrees with my conservative viewpoint/position must either be a communist or RINO, and everyone who disagrees with my liberal position/viewpoint must either be a fascist or DINO.

  10. Meme says:

    When they go low we go high, is not a winning strategy.

    Play by the same rules, CL, or LOSE.

    What are conservative view points?

    What are liberal view points?

    Tell us CL.

  11. Meme says:

    Of course, we could always use the CL method and vote on whether we like the hairstyle.

  12. Bill Brooker says:

    If Whitmire/the Council really wanted Miles gone, they’d place pressure on Miles’ backers at the Greater Houston Partnership. Without the GHP, Miles would have no local support base.

    The County and the City *cant* do much about Miles directly. But they certainly can stop empowering Miles’ backers at the GHP. Make the GHP choose between access and municipal and county appointments and their current support of Miles/Morath.

    But Whitmire needs the Republicans/GHP politically, so he aint doing that unless a whole lot of pressure is placed on the Mayor.

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