Boycott HISD? Proposals to Close Schools Opens Options for Frustrated, Parents, Communities

AFRAMTemplateBOYCOTTBy Darwin Campbell, African-American News and Issues

Could some frustrated and angry parents get mad enough to boycott the Houston Independent School District?

Some Fifth Ward parents and activists said it is time to send a stronger message to the district that says hands off our schools, hands off our land and hands off our children.

Home schooling could be the next big step for frustrated parents to send that message to the HISD.

At Lamar Fleming Middle School, district officials handed the community a plan and contended that it was only a proposal, but some parents rejected it as a decision being shoved down the throat of the African-American and Hispanic residents living in those communities.

“You have come here with a plan to push us around in the 5th Ward,” said activist Arthur J. Smith, who was among over 200 residents opposed to the plan. “This is pure racism. Parents need to stand up,  boycott HISD and home school the children and send a strong message in every school that we are not going to put up with this kind of blatant disrespect.”

Several hundred residents echoed those sentiments arguing the school has been targeted for its decreasing enrollment numbers, despite having good students, solid test scores and performing to state standards.

Boycotts are legal under common law. It is the right of citizens to voluntarily and in a nonviolent way to express their disagreement with a policy by refusing to follow or support it. Boycotts are one way a community or group can make their voices will be heard and the will of the people clear. Generally, boycotts have a strong economic impact on those targeted by the boycott.

Opponents of boycotts historically have the choice of suffering under it, yielding to its demands, or attempting to suppress it through extralegal means, such as force and coercion.

One of the most successful boycotts in African-American history was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It became one of the most powerful events  in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.  It was a political protest by a group of African-Americans including Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. against the policy of racial segregation on the public transit system in Montgomery, Ala. from 1955 to 1956.

Other successful boycotts have been done involving students who conducted strikes over dissatisfaction over political or academic issues. Their pressure on the schools, universities, vocational colleges got attention and forced changes in policy.

Most school districts or institutions cannot afford to lose the millions in revenues caused by huge losses or withdrawal of students from the district.

Fleming has been a noted school as the first model Magnate School in the district and has turned out a number of successful students and had produced a past HISD Principal of the year.

Home schools in Texas have been determined by Texas courts to be private schools, and private schools are not regulated by the state of Texas, according to the Texas Home School Coalition.

By home schooling, the district could stand to lose some revenues from student withdrawals.

The law in Texas is one of the most favorable for home educators in the United States, and here people are free to determine the course of their children’s education.

Texas leads the nation in the number of families who home school. It is estimated that more than 120,000 families in the state have chosen this tutorial method of education and that more 300,000 children are being taught at home, THSC said.

Under the current proposal, the majority of students — 305 — will be zoned for Key Middle School. Another large group of students — 143 — will be zoned for McReynolds Middle School. A small number of students — 16 — will be rezoned for Marshall Middle School.

School Chief Michael Cardona, who represented the district, offered little justification for the proposed closing only stating, “Unfortunately, we’re seeing a decrease in the amount of available housing in the neighborhoods that surround Fleming. While the City of Houston has tentative plans to build some small-scale housing in the area… No other housing currently is planned for that area.”

According to Cardona, the decrease in available housing equates to a decrease in the number of students who live in the Fleming Middle School attendance zone and said there aren’t enough students to support the school any more.

“This is an excuse and a poor one at that. The real truth is this is the great land grab,” Smith said. “HISD and the city of Houston and others want this land.”

According to Cardona, the proposal for Fleming includes used as swing space as the district continues to work on bond construction projects. It could also become the new home for the Ryan Professional Support &Development Center.

Cardona would not even guarantee that changes would secure teacher jobs at any closed school.

“If we are not performing, TEA would have come to take us over,” he said. “We do not want to hear about the crumbs you talking about because this is our school and Fleming is not the place.”

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One Comment

  1. arthur j smith
    February 21, 2014 at 4:05 am - Reply

    Hey there Bro’ Campbell,
    This is Arthur J Smith and I really appreciate you telling it like it is. You saw our passion here in the 5th Ward Community at the meeting at Lamar Fleming Middle School, and you were Real enough to let the Truth be TOLD! Keep keeping it Real Brotha’ we need the truth to be told without compromise and you did that! Thanks

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