After several years of warnings and a court battle, Houston Independent School District is now being overseen by the Texas Education Agency.
And some folks aren’t happy.
“The state deserves an ‘F’ on how they’ve handled this process up to this point,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner complained to reporters. “Just a flat out ‘F.’ No community engagement. No engagement with the parents. No information being provided to the students. Dropping this in the midst of spring break, creating a great deal of disruption, anxiety, and stress, okay.”
Nobody was caught by surprise by the takeover, however, which dates back to 2019 when students’ low academic scores, and allegations of misconduct by school district leaders, could not go ignored. After the school district sued to block a takeover, the state legislature eventually became involved and passed legislation. Even that new state law was challenged and only a Texas Supreme Court ruling, which was handed down in January, forced Houston Independent School District to back down and move aside.
With a Republican governor in Austin, accusations of racism are predictably flying from Houston’s leaders, all Democrats, over a public school district where Hispanics and blacks are approximately 85% of the 196,000 students spread across 270-plus schools.
Jonathan Saenz, of Texas Values, tells AFN it was a black state representative, Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., who led the effort in the legislature to fix the same school district where he went to school decades earlier.
Dutton, a Democrat, represents District 142 which includes the city of Houston.
According to The Houston Chronicle, Rep. Dutton told the newspaper he was concerned some school campuses were failing students year after year when other schools were showing improvement. After five years of students falling behind, he agreed with Republicans it was time to take action.
“I never thought that would happen,” Dutton said. “I thought they would fix the school, but what happened was HISD did nothing.”
“And so now that this has come to all fruition,” Saenz says, “the state has no choice but to really help close to 200,000 kids in that school district.”