September 26, 2023

Abbott Travels Miles to Destroy H.I.S.D

At the directive of Governor Greg Abbott, the state of Texas has been greedily hovering over the Houston Independent School Board since 2018 with the conspicuous presumption of “saving” it. This spring his victory equaled everyone else’s loss. Well before 2019 HISD had identified insufficient campus funding as one of its most formidable challenges, which of course disadvantaged the least advantaged of the then 209,772 enrolled students. That was the year the district was honored in U.S. News & World Report as having four of the top 100 high schools (DeBakey High School for Health Professions, ranked #3 in Texas, #17 in the nation; Carnegie Vanguard High School, ranked #4 in Texas, #24 in the nation; Eastwood Academy High School, ranked #9 in Texas, #97 in the nation, and Challenge Early College High School, ranked #10 in Texas, #102 in the nation) in its Best High Schools rankings.


The school system earned 88 out of 100 points from the state which bested many districts in Texas’ big cities. HISD also had pared its number of “failing” schools from 58 in 2015 to 21. Still, less than half of Black, Hispanic and “economically disadvantaged” students overall were performing on grade level in math and reading in 2019, compared to about 7 out of 2 whites from more prosperous households.


The proportion of students in need of special education ranked among the least of Texas’ priorities. Poorly supported schools, especially magnet schools, were unequal in quality and unequally located around the city. The following year capital was similarly scarce when online learning was necessitated by COVID. At that time 42% of our students received one or more failing grades during the first six-week interval. Seven other area school districts also described an increased number of students failing at least one class compared to last year. HISD reopened for in person classes that October, but days later 16 campuses were closed again because of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.


Mental health deteriorated as children were separated from their routines and their classmates. Many of their adults lost their jobs and, in some cases, their lives. Students were in desperate need of expensive services. Even as the financially besieged school district was making sweeping improvements at low performing schools, Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas Education Agency to summarily exile the district’s superintendent and board trustees selected by Houston voters., They installed strangers, including Mike Miles, the recently disastrous leader of the Dallas Independent School District, to oversee HISD against the public’s vehement protest. Miles left his previous position in Dallas with deteriorating test scores and abundant scandals.


Texas finances its schools on the number of students in each district and their daily attendance. HISD receives between $5,000 and $6,000 per student per year. With 189,337 currently enrolled, there are 20,724 fewer than when the pandemic hit during the 2019-20 school year. That means the district is projected to lose $124 million from its already inadequate prepandemic budget. Not only that, but in February Michael Love, the executive officer of HISD’s Innovation and Strategic Initiatives, told (channel) 13 Investigates, “Over the next 20 years we may lose another 20,000, 30,000 students. We may be at 150,000 in 10 years. It’s hard to know, but we are at least predicting a decrease over the foreseeable future.” Meanwhile, the new superintendent none of us voted for has a new contract, which includes some $25,000 to cover his moving expenditures, awards him $1,473 compensation for every day he acts as superintendent. Remember that next time you vote for governor.

Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required
Scroll to Top