HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Mayor Sylvester Turner made it very clear Monday that he is not happy with Houston ISD's plan to turn campus libraries into "team centers" or "discipline centers."
"I don't want HISD schools to look like prisons," Turner said.
Standing with the mayor were some city council members, state leaders, and local pastors, all denouncing the state-appointed HISD Superintendent Mike Miles' plan.
The district's plan is to repurpose libraries at 28 of the New Education System (NES) schools. Miles says the team and discipline centers will not have librarians.
Students who misbehave will be sent to the old library spaces to watch virtual lessons or get homework done. Books can be checked out on an honor system.
"HISD is creating a school district of the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. With some areas in the district equipped with libraries full of books and technology, while others will resemble stark institutions with no place to go to their school library, to study to check out a book, get the assistance of a librarian and expand their own imagination," Turner said.
"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. These libraries are needed. The first book that I learn to read, from cover to cover, was checked out in the library," one Houston pastor added.
City leaders also cited research they say validates that having a certified librarian will make student achievement higher.
Ahead of the mayor's news conference on Monday, Miles released the following statement:
"I'm aware of Mayor Turner's planned press event. I cannot and will not govern the state's largest school district by press conference or press release. The time for politics is over, and we will not be distracted by intentional misinformation. I will work with anyone who is serious about improving the learning and life outcomes of HISD students."
Miles also invited the mayor and other state and local leaders to come to see some of the schools and learn more about the NES model. Mayor Turner has invited Miles to city hall to talk more about his plans for HISD.