What role might the city have in HISD?

The possibility that the city could have any role at all with HISD is itself interesting.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he has been asked to get “very, very, very involved” in Houston ISD as it faces potentially severe state sanctions, but he stopped short Wednesday of suggesting the city could take control of the district’s chronically under-performing campuses.

Asked whether the city could become a “partner” with the district, giving the city significant authority over operations at campuses, Turner said Wednesday: “Let’s just say I’ve been asked to be very, very involved by multiple individuals, and then I am deciding to what degree and to how far I am going to get involved in the day-to-day operation of any of the schools.”

In recent weeks, HISD administrators have proposed surrendering significant control over 10 underachieving campuses to “partners” as part of the district’s plan for avoiding state sanctions.

Under a law known as HB 1842, which was passed in 2015, the Texas Education Agency must replace HISD’s locally elected school board or close campuses if any one of the district’s 10 longest-failing schools fails to meet state academic standards this year.

Under a separate law known as SB 1882, which was passed in 2017, the district can stave off those potential sanctions for two years if it partners with a nonprofit, higher education institution, charter school network or government entity.

When HISD administrators initially recommended partnerships in early February, the district did not include governmental entities as a potential partner. However, in recent days, HISD leaders have added that option in public presentations about SB 1882, leading to speculation that the city of Houston could take control of HISD campuses.

There’s some precedent for this. Peter Brown advocated for an “urban school district” as part of his 2009 Mayoral campaign. Mayor Turner hired former HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche as his Director of Education, a role he created. It’s not clear what role the city might play in HISD, if it even comes to that. Given the choices from SB1882, I’d go with a college or nonprofit first as a partner, and would prefer the city only if the other choices are a charter school or the state. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what comes next, but I do appreciate the city being willing to step in, even if I’d rather it not be needed.

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9 Responses to What role might the city have in HISD?

  1. City council can barely keep their full time employees out of poverty.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    This whole thing reminds me of North Forest ISD. The state had to take that over because of gross mismanagement and all the brother-in-law dealing that went on there. The state needs to take over HISD, and boot out the elected school board completely. They might be great at virtue signalling, but they are obvious failures at running a school district.

    They need the equivalent of Trump, someone to restore law and order to those schools. You can’t let the inmates run the asylum, to quote Bob McNair. There needs to be order and the kids need to be made aware that they are there to learn, and that they, in fact, are not in charge.

    I still think they need to get Birdie back and make her the superintendent. I suspect the reason HISD has success with their magnet schools, and Bellaire High is parental involvement, something lacking in poverty pockets. If you are poor, uneducated, and most probably a single parent, you aren’t bringing much to the table. You need the school to be in loco parentis, and those schools are obviously failing at that task.

  3. Bill Daniels says:


    The school district should be paying competitive wages to fill all of their positions. The school district has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to NOT overpay for positions. If their low paying jobs leave the job holder in poverty, the job holder needs to either get a second job, or get a job that pays better.

    Public schools shouldn’t be a social program, they should be a service, provided to the taxpaying public in a cost effective manner.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    Let us hope that the city doesn’t get its hands on this. The segregation that Mayor Turner practices has no place in the schools, and I am against segregation and feel constantly stressed, depressed, and ill living in a city that practices segregation. I got no response from my city council member when I asked if the council could impeach the mayor. For details see here: https://texashousers.net/2017/01/18/sweeping-federal-investigation-finds-city-of-houstons-housing-segregation-violates-civil-rights-act/ and here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/28/us/ben-carson-hud-fair-housing-discrimination.html
    supposedly this is part of a deal to get the Republican votes needed to overhaul the pension. In any case, I oppose it, and oppose the expansion of the city’s power.

  5. Maybe if the HISD board was smarter they’d ask the city or county to do feasibility on a public bank.

    The fact that the board can’t figure out some form of paid family leave for teachers is funny/sad. i.e. 75% pay for 6 weeks.

    The cost-benefit analysis is on my website along with other local governments that offer this simple benefit.

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    HISD is laying off staff because it doesn’t have enough money. They spent all their money on important stuff like changing offensive school names. How, exactly, would you like to pay teachers not to work for 6 weeks? Will you give each staffer a pay cut and use the savings to pay for this new paid leave benefit? Remember, you have to pay substitutes when the teacher is out of class, and the substitutes probably want 6 paid weeks of vacation, too, when they turn up pregnant.

  7. The benefit of everyone knowing my past is that it allows us to focus on real public policy issues. LOL

  8. Ross says:

    Bill, while HISD did waste some money on changing school names to satisfy Jolanda Jones, the real reason for the lack of funds is that the Robin Hood law is forcing HISD to give over $200 million to the State for no good reason. Austin has it worse, paying over $500 million in recapture – that’s more than $5,000 per Austin ISD school. It also doesn’t help that Dan Patrick, a horrible, disgusting piece of shit, hates public education, and won’t lift a finger to provide appropriate funding at the state level. State share of education has dropped from about 50% to 38%. HISD is not allowed to raise taxes to make up for the money sent to the state, so there’s a shortfall.

    There is no way I want a bunch of unelected idiots from TEA running HISD. They would screw things up far worse than the Board can. The main reason that the schools are underperforming, keeping in mind that it’s 10 out of 250 or so, is that it’s completely unreasonable to expect every student in a public school to pass a test that measures college readiness, and that’s the standard by which the schools are judged.

  9. Steve Houston says:

    What would the city realistically bring to the table to make this a good idea, ie: more money, expertise in running a large ISD, superior technical support? Let’s be honest and admit that the city is already under funded for all the things it wants, from the HFD union wanting 30% raises, the police chief wanting 2000+ more officers, public works wanting incredible new spending on new infrastructure, the mayor wanting hundreds of miles of upgraded streets, and so on. So it can’t help with money and the only positions it pays well are the upper level administration positions so the likelihood it could attract the needed expertise is laughable, the city doesn’t even handle it’s own statutory affairs well enough to double down with more responsibilities.

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