Community pushes back on Houston ISD decision to remove libraries at some schools on Saturday

Sunday, August 6, 2023
Protesters voice opposition over removal of libraries within HISD
Several activists and community leaders gather outside of HISD to protest the decision to remove libraries to make disciplinary centers.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Community members and elected officials gathered outside Houston Independent School District headquarters on Saturday morning to protest Superintendent Mike Miles' decision to turn libraries into what critics call disciplinary centers.

This is part of the NES (New Education System) plan to restructure the Houston ISD. More than 60 campuses will shift to the proposed education system.

Under the new system, some of the schools in the HISD system will no longer have librarians and media specialists. Instead, the libraries will be turned into what Miles calls "team centers."

RELATED: Former HISD trustee shares community concerns over district reforms

Students placed in these centers for disciplinary actions will watch their class on Zoom and complete individual assignments. However, protesters said the district doesn't need to get rid of libraries to do this.

"If they can do this to Houston, then what's stopping them from doing it anywhere else," Sareah Fremont said. Fremont works in a nearby district but joined to support the local community.

Former HISD librarian Cheryl Hensley spoke at the rally and said libraries are being dismantled. Hensley has worked in education for more than three decades. She said this would hurt students who don't have access to these resources outside of school.

"I feel for those kids when they come in and see it dismantled, and I use that word because it's the heart of the school. Some of them have been taking books off the shelves," Hensley said.

The rally was led by Congressman Al Green, elected state officials, the Houston Federation of Teachers, and the local NAACP chapter.

Congressman Green called on the governor and the state legislature to stop this from happening.

"The governor is in charge of this, the superintendent is his minister, but he gets all of his vision from the governor. This is the governor's vision," Congressman Green said.

RELATED: Some HISD libraries could be librarian-less, used for discipline centers, but the city pushes back

Some schools will still have libraries, and students, when checking books in and out, will have to follow an honor code.

During a media briefing earlier this week, parents expressed frustration during public comment and asked Miles to reconsider his approach.

Mile's has defended the change since making the announcement public in late June.

The community plans to host a read-in at 4:00 p.m. before the next school board meeting.

RELATED: 'It was a democratic process': HISD selects reading, math curriculums without normal teacher input

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