Houston – The great education debate in Houston Independent School District (HISD) is a long-standing argument about what is best course in educating children.
The discussion has taken two tracks with the HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier and the HISD Board on one side and Community leaders and activists on the other side.
Two major schools of thought clashing on how best to use education dollars to bring quality and equitable facilities, books, resources and teachers to all neighborhood schools regardless of race, creed, color or location.
The debate rages over the failure of Grier and the community to sit down across the table from one another to dialog and share concerns about decisions being made on school closings, spending and operations in HISD schools. That has triggered animosity and finger pointing on both sides with children and their education caught in the middle.
Grier has shared his insights on district unrest, on inequality and his view of community and board relationships and school improvements and discipline.
Community leaders are an active part of the debate and have responded with legal action and are sharing what they feel is needed and where they feel the buck needs to stop.
The Time & What Must Be Done ~ Understand:
Dr. Terry Grier Is Not the Man Behind the Curtain
Robert S. Muhammad, SW Regional Student Minister of the Nation of Islam, urban planner, & radio talk show host
Contrary to Houston’s current popular urban legend, H.I.S.D. Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier is NOT the man behind the curtain pulling the levers like Wizard of Oz. With all due respect to Dr. Grier, his supporters and detractors, he is merely a temporary functionary of a local and global system of education that is designed to perpetuate the rule of the non-white minority in our city, region, state, nation, and across the globe. Neely Fuller, Jr. wrote “If you do not understand White Supremacy (Racism)-what it is, and how it works-everything else that you understand, will only confuse you.” This is not “conspiracy theory” or opinion, this is reality. Let’s connect the dots.
Did you know that the city of Houston and Houston-Galveston region bzecame a majority Non-White region in the mid 1990’s? Did you know that the demography of Houston-Galveston region is what America is projected to be by 2043 according to An Equity Profile of the Houston-Galveston Region (2011)? Did you know the demographers at Texas A&M predicted the year 2040 rates and sources of population growth, the age structure of the population, the growth of the non-white population, and the change in composition of Texas households in The New Texas Challenge: Population Change and the Future of Texas (2003)?
Did you know what Joel Kotkin (2010) wrote about the majority non-white demographic makeup of the United States in The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050? If non-whites are the majority, and one man one vote means anything, then why are we making little to no political, economic, and social progress?
Who are the voter ID laws and lack of access to capital, land, and economic opportunity designed to control and impacting the most?
Did you know what grim predictions Jorgen Randers (2012) wrote in a report to the Club of Rome in A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years: 2052 or what Leonie Sandercock’s (2003) analysis was of the challenges of governance of majority non-white cities in Cosmopolis II: Mongrel Cities in the 21st Century? Do you know what is at the root of the Central American immigration crisis, the Arab Spring, perpetual disease and conflict in Africa and the West’s increasing hostility toward Iran, China, and Russia?
If your answers are “no,” “I don’t know,” or “I don’t care” to the above questions, then it’s no wonder we are so confused by what we understand of H.I.S.D. and the purpose of education in general.
H.I.S.D. is part of a global system that is operating perfectly according to its design. This system is not designed for social equity, democratic participation, or economic opportunity for the non-white global majority. It is a bifurcated two-tiered system of elitist education for the haves and something far less for the have nots. Read Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream by Suzanne Mettler (2014). We are being educated to work for others, be consumers of goods and services, and not to save, invest, and build generational wealth.
If our children don’t fit into a neat box of conformity or learn to navigate the paradigm of non-white minority rule, they will be chewed up and spit out by the education system to either die young, be unemployed, or swallowed whole by the prison industrial complex as documented by scholars in The Perpetual Prisoner Machine: How America Profits from Crime (2000); Race and Crime (2005); Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization? (2006); and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010).
Ask yourself why we have never been happy with H.I.S.D. no matter who the superintendent was? It’s really not charter schools, privatization, misspent bond money, sell out politicians, or a rubberstamp Board of Trustees that displeases us. It is as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan states, “Happiness comes when a person understands their purpose for existence and then they fulfill that purpose.” We know innately and empirically that H.I.S.D. and America’s educational system is NOT facilitating understanding or fulfillment of our children’s purpose for existence. It matters not whether it’s Nanny-state liberal policy keeping us dependent wards of the state or Fatherland conservatives lassie-faire policy hypocritically preaching about ‘boot straps’ and personal responsibility while denying us access to capital and opportunity: both ideologies and methodologies are stewards of a system of white minority control over the non-white majority.
In conclusion, the solution is for us to accept the challenge of implementing a new educational paradigm for the 21st century based on freedom, justice, and equality for all within a framework of non-white global majority governance. Dr. Grier will be gone in a few days and a new Wizard of Oz will be put in front of us by a system of global white supremacy operating from behind the curtain. Unless we understand H.I.S.D.’s place in that global system and how it works, we will continue to be confused by what we understand about H.I.S.D. and education in general. We need a proper education, as the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us, that enables us to “do for self” and “govern self” instead looking to others for jobs and justice. Otherwise, we will continue to be in the 2014 and beyond what Dr. Robert Bullard described Black people to be in 1987 – Invisible Houston.
HISD School Closings is Bad Policy
Kofi Taharka- National Black United Front, Houston, Chapter
Terry Grier is a hired gun pushing the agenda of billionaire foundations whose agenda is to dismantle public education in this country under the guise of “school reform”. He should be fired post haste. These foundations include Gates Foundation, Broad Foundation and Arnold Foundation. Some of the guiding principles of these groups include: school choice, busting teachers unions, removing seasoned teachers and replacing them with white recent graduates, replacing public school with charter schools.
The problem with HISD School Closings is primarily with bad policy. The HISD school board members have abdicated there responsibilities and ceded power and control to Grier. HISD school closure policy allows for Grier to recommend closure and the board to vote on the matter in 30 days. These leaves communities scrambling to react. That policy needs to change. Dodson Elementary is the one out of five schools initially marked for closure to close for “low enrollment”, yet HISD records show hundreds of applications to the school. When the Dodson closure was placed on the agenda for reconsideration a parliamentary moved was used to table the issue & silence the communities voice. That’s bad policy!
Money, real estate are at the core of many decisions, not children’s education. Grier & HISD has run a smoke & mirrors charade on this community for many years.
However, this past year the people have seen through the empty promises and said enough is enough.
School closures in urban communities are taking place across this country. This is helping to kill communities until such time as others repopulate these areas after full gentrification of neighborhoods.
For the record, Terry Grier lives in a high rise in an affluent neighborhood. I was one of those protesting outside his penthouse calling for his firing. All of my children went to public schools in HISD.
When I has him face to face the aforementioned questions he ran away.
Statistics show taxpayers account for 70 plus percent of HISD budget, whether you have children in HISD or not.
Common Sense vs. Non Sense
Travis McGee Sr.
The following is a recounting of my thoughts in 2012 concerning the HISD Bond issue of 2012.
In retrospect, I would that people would look back and review what I said back then. I hate to say I am not a prophet, but I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.
It should reset thinking of those needing a memory jog about the bond issue.
I remain part of the dialog because I refuse to stop fighting for my children and other neighborhood children who are the real victims of this fight.
HISD BOND 2012: WHAT MORE CAN HISD DO WITH $1.9 BILLION THAT THEY COULDN’T DO WITH $2.3 BILLION FROM THE LAST THREE BONDS?
AS a parent, taxpayer, and community leader I’m very concerned with the past, present, and even future actions of HISD. One year ago HISD stated and reiterated several times that student population and enrollment was declining specifically in older, African American communities. However, research has shown quite the opposite. The population has not decreased. Research has also shown the demand for quality education has increased. This is evidenced in the amount of students pursuing and attending schools that are not in close proximity to their homes. These parents and students are desperately seeking out schools that have adequate programs that do not exist in their communities.
One year later HISD is asking WE The People for $1.9 billion in bonds to put “New Buildings” in the same areas they initially stated did not have sufficient enrollment. Board members suggested current campuses did not have enough children to operate or function on their current campus budgets. They even closed four schools (Grimes, Rhoads, Stevenson, and McDade). Ironically, several of the schools were included in the 2007 Bond. If the schools were included on the bond proposal, why are they closed now?
We The People vote for our best interest and not a politician’s hidden agendas.
Beautification should not be priority over education. If schools are performing poorly before and after passing the bond, will a big pretty building improve the performance? Or will it just increase our taxes? The problem in the minority communities is the lack of programs and superior instructors. Families are following the programs even if that means being bused out of the area. Why should any child have to be bused from their community in order to receive a quality education and the opportunity to participate in programs that enhance the educational experience?
In 1954, we had Brown Vs. Board of Education. Today, it’s Brown Vs. the Houston Independent School District.
The difference being the lack of white schools in a seven block radius. Since our schools are being closed, children are being bused miles away from their homes in search of a quality education.
Who really benefits from these “Blank” checks also known as HISD BONDS?
It sure isn’t the children!
Billion dollar bonds equal multimillion dollar contracts. In 1998, history was made when voters approved a bond for $678 million. In 2002, history was rewritten when voters approved a bond for over $808 million. In 2007, another bond was approved for $805 million. Each time the bond was presented HISD and local officials stated that this OPPORTUNITY won’t come around again. This will be the 4th OPPORTUNITY in 14 year.
The key word is OPPORTUNITY.
Exactly who’s OPPORTUNITY is it? Our schools didn’t get in these so-called deplorable conditions over night. If $2.3 billion have been allocated over 14 years, where did it go? From 1998 to present, District 9 has received a total of $255.3 million (only 8 schools built) and District 4 has received $327.6 million in bond money (only 7 schools built). That is a total of $582.9 million combined in which only 15 schools were built. District 2 received $390.6 million and almost built more schools than both districts combined.
Note: A state of the art elementary school can be built for $16 million. Frost Elementary School located at 5002Almeda-Genoa Road is a perfect example.
In 2010 HISD had a total of 298 schools. Today, HISD has 279 schools with an average budget of $1.6 billion. You would think with 19 fewer schools there would be a surplus in HISD’s budget and a decrease in our taxes. However, just last year (2011) they closed 4 schools (Grimes, Rhoades, Stevenson, and Mc Dade). Even though Grimes (380) and Rhoades (320) were on the 2007 bond they were both closed. Ironically the buildings are currently being leased out to HISD Charter Schools with less than half the enrollment of either school. Both Charters have 5 year leases at a rate of roughly $15,000.00 a month. This was done less than a month after closures.
I guess it pays to have friends sitting on the board.
There were 10 other schools with lower enrollment than Grimes. Also, the 2002 bond financed the construction of 2 new schools with 1 residing in Grimes’ attendance zone. By HISD’s numbers high schools should have an enrollment of 1,000 or more students. Middle school should have at least 750 students and elementary at least 500. If our schools don’t meet the criteria, they are considered small and are subject to consolidation or closure regardless of academic standing.
HISD would rather close or move a school than help improve it.
As of December 2010, HISD had 66 schools that they were considering closing or consolidating. As of March 2011, the list went down to 37 with 80% of those schools being predominantly minority schools. All of our Black communities from North, South, East, or West will be without schools and have a crippled feeder pattern.
Trades in Schools
Trades in school are a must. We must admit that everyone will not attend college. Even though HISD has a gifted and talented population of only 15% and 60%-80% of its students classified as economically disadvantaged/at risk population, they see no need for trades. For some reason HISD believes trades are inferior. However, they are willing to ask We the People for $1.9 billion worth of trades.
How can anyone in their right mind believe anything HISD says? If we can’t see the previous $2.3 billion, why would we give them another blank check with absolutely no accountability? If our children and schools really came first, why was the new Administration Building built before any of the out dated schools? The old admin property sold for $38 million and the new was built for $28 million. With $10 million unaccounted for and a new 300,000 square building, do the children really come first?
HISD is funded per student and not per administrator.
We must use Common Sense to VOTE NO against this Non Sense.
The Buck Stops Where? Response to Dr. Terry Grier’s interview in African-American News&Issues (July)
Loretta Brock, The People Hold The Purse
Dr. Terry Grier, Superintendent of Houston Independent School District has given us many of his truths upon which we can have a fact based conversation concerning the education of minority children in HISD, in locations both inside and outside the minority community. The following is a response to the interview with Dr. Grier that was published in the African American news on July 20, 2014 .
1) Where is the empirical data to support the allegations Grier has assessed against those taking the lead in this quest for equity in education?? I have not taken a survey of those who are leading the charge for equity in education to determine who is sending their children to the neighborhood school and who is not. If I did administer such a survey, I would have a section for an explanation as to why the choice for the student was to not attend the neighborhood school. This is not an ad hominem argument, as such, this information is only relevant to the extent that it identifies the deficiencies in the neighborhood schools. This information is not sufficient for the purpose of discrediting the argument for equity in education by persons whose children may or may not be attending the neighborhood schools.
2) Dr. Grier documented a profound observation in the referenced article, “I don’t want any child dropping out of school,” he said, “if you are an African American male, and you drop out, there is an 85% chance you will be incarcerated before your 25th birthday.
We all know that and see that and I worry that we are not doing enough about it.” The community agrees with the validated facts in this statement. Dr. Grier can demonstrate his “worry” for African American and other minority males by reversing or issuing moratoriums on policies or the implementation of policies or practices that have proven to be chief contributory factors in lowering the population of our neighborhood schools.
3) “The money follows the child” is one such policy/practice that promotes the lack of equity in our neighborhood schools. This policy is the supreme complement to the site based management model. It allows for the school’s budget to be based on a PUA (per unit allowance) for all students attending the school. This site managed budget does not include facilities maintenance cost, utilities or transportation). By systemically, whether inadvertently or advertently, removing programs from the neighborhood schools or duplicating them on campuses with more capital improvements and/or located in more affluent neighborhoods, you have caused “non-urban” schools to act as a true magnet, and draw our students away for our schools. This has given the non-urban schools a fiscal advantage due to a large number of their population transferring into the schools. This gives the schools a false appearance of a robust population with a true representation of a superfluous budget!! If the district budget was centralized, not including magnet, special education, Title I and discretionary funding all schools’ basic needs would be met by the district and schools would not have to choose between books and computers or librarians and teachers.
4) Jones High School, the first school addressed in the article, represents numerous variables that can be examined individually, to measure the affect on the school population. A sampling of these variables includes:
1) Removal of the vanguard program;
2) Mandated participation in the only School Wide Magnet Program in HISD;
3) Magnet program not embraced by the students and communites. (Architectual Engineering)
Further decline in the Jones population could possibly be dramatically affected by the following new revisions for Jones:
1) Removal of UIL competition from Jones; ( No sports for African American males???)
2) Jones conversion to a Futures Academy with no traditional students;
3) Difficulty in enrolling students into Jones as the Jones office was relocated to Bastian Elementary; after summer courses ended at Bastian, no one has consistently been available to assist students in enrolling in the Futures Program at Jones; Jones enrollment has almost come to a halt due to inconsistency in personnel location for enrollment.
Is it possible to get clarity concerning the 3 million dollar per year Jones budget? How many administrators were there for the 450 students? What was their pay and function? Have these costs been offset by the South Early College housed at Jones? Is approximately 22 million dollars leaving the Sunnyside area annually as a result of students not attending neighborhood schools? How many dollars are leaving our urban neighborhood schools following our children to non-urban schools?
4)The question of literacy is crucial to the success of our students. We, the community accept your invitation to come to the schools and volunteer in the classrooms with the students. Campuses have not been so welcoming in the not so distant past. Many community members would love to come in the classrooms to observe, assist and read aloud. If libraries were properly maintained, students could go to the library and check out books rather than have the teachers take on yet another responsibility as classroom librarian. It is almost unbelievable, at the same board meeting at which Grier and his administration advised that the funds were available to pay almost ten million dollars for books, the board was also advised that funds were not available to pay for the $26.00 raise on the agenda for teachers. Dr. Grier, due to the cut in state funding which was based on an increase in the tax rate as well as ad valorem real estate values, was the Grier administration, inclusive of CFO Ken Huweitt and yourself, Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier, know that there would be an approximately 60 million increase in tax revenues which would offset the approximately 16 million in funding we were cut by the state? Was that not a document sent to the district notifying the district of the cut explain the increase in tax revenues as the reason? Why are closing schools and firing teachers when we are experiencing a growth in student population? Even if students are relocated, will they not still need teachers? Why are we bringing in teachers from North Carolina, with little to no experience, minimal qualifications and minimum commitment to the community?
It appears we are not getting the most bang for our buck! We are paying for product that is not being delivered. We demand that our graduates be able to function and contribute to society! We demand that our students be college ready or work ready not welfare ready!!!!
The buck stops where? The buck stops with the people!!
The Issue is Equity in Education & Resources
Charles X White, Freedom Fighter
I am about telling the truth and that is yet to come forward. Superintendent Terry Grier has done nothing to accelerate a resolution to the current education struggle.
“The buck stop here”? (referring to the sign in African-American News&Issues article photo) “Grier you are no Harry S. Truman! – Who gets the money now, you?”
Fifty years ago on August 28, 1964 Houston ISD was facing a federal order to desegregate however in the following video clip from 1964 you will see the continued difficulty of HISD to do the right thing without being ord e r e d : h t t p : / / www.texasarchive.org/library/ index.php?title=The_KHOU- T V _ C o l l e c t i o n _ -_News_Clips,_August_28,_1964 – (copy link to browser)
On August 21, 2014 at 7701 Jutland at Greater St. Mathew Baptist Church, myself and a group of freedom fighters and supporters are hosting the first in a series of education hearings.
We are inviting CSPAN and victims of the attacks and assaults on taxpayers, students and the communities by discriminatory policies and practices by HISD and Superintendent Terry Grier. We have selected to advance our findings through a research based approach to prove our findings offer a very different picture than the district is presenting to the public on how the districts is justifying school closing.
For example: 23 schools in District II closed out of 75 and 19 in District VI schools closed – Both majority black districts, why? Also food for thought is according to HISD from 2001 to 2012, 42 of 74 schools have been closed or repurposed no including schools in District 9, which translates to more than 57% of these actions occuring in Black communities.
This is too high!
In a recent article in the African-American News&Issues, I contended that Terry Grier offered double talk, blamed parents, insulted taxpayers and spouted half facts.
One can only think back and remember the Rodney Ellis commercial about new schools and property Values!
Let us also remind of ourselves and ask the following questions:
What about the failed Apollo program?
H o w a r e c h a r t e r schools able to maintain a campus with less students and less money than HISD?
What happened to the bond money that was allocated to various schools, then Grier and the board closed or repurposed the school?
What other magnet program was removed from a comprehensive campus, when and why?
Why are African American children being bused to Anglo schools with low enrollment?
What about, Terry Grier’s 2010 admonishing the HISD Board on Pay for Play—
HISD staff repeatedly stated that Jones and Ryan students zoned to those schools would be allowed back about 11% were allowed back? Where are they now? BAIT- Switch
Can we do the right thing in 2014?