Houston lawmaker floats potential federal intervention of TEA's takeover of HISD

Briana Conner Image
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Resources, not a takeover, are what HISD students need, teacher says
A Houston ISD teacher believes professional development and resources for students are more needed than a TEA takeover.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This is an uncertain time for teachers. Many of them were meeting with legislators in Austin this week, and they brought a long wishlist of things they want to help them do their jobs. A state takeover was nowhere near the top of it.

"What I think's most important is resources that help kids and resources that help teachers," Holly Beery, who teaches kindergarten in HISD, said, adding that she has experience and knowledge about what she and students need to succeed. "(We need) professional development that's targeted and led by quality professionals for teachers, as well as having resources for kids like math manipulatives or high-quality books for independent reading."

Leaders critical of the Texas Education Agency's plan to take control of the Houston Independent School District questioned whether the state is making the right decisions to meet those needs.

"I really think there's a better solution to HISD than a board of managers," U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said. "What are you saying to the students? That they have not worked hard? What are you doing about school funding?"

SEE ALSO: 'The state deserves an F': Mayor Sylvester Turner, other leaders react to TEA takeover of HISD

Despite low per-pupil spending compared to other states, the HISD conservator's report from last month shows the district is on track to improve overall scores for math and reading, as well as the percentage of students deemed career and college ready.

The district, however, is behind when it comes to ensuring every campus has a targeted improvement plan. The report also said there's a lack of synergy and teamwork between the superintendent and the board. All of them will be replaced over the summer.

"To kind of pull the rug out from under us is just scary, because I feel like I don't know what's going to happen next or what they may ask me or my students to do," Beery said.

There's also the fear of losing more teachers. Beery said talented educators and administrators may be unwilling to stay and work under the state's microscope, especially if immediate changes are introduced without input from them and the community.

SEE ALSO: 'Nothing to do with politics': Politicians on both sides being vocal about what HISD takeover means

"We do know what's best for our kids, and we're going to keep working to help make sure that our students continue to improve and be the best they can be and help our families navigate this," Beery said. "But we're going to need help navigating it, too. I hope that whoever comes in is ready to learn from us and work with us."

Jackson Lee also said she is working in Washington to get the Department of Education to intervene and possibly investigate whether the state has the right to move forward with this takeover.

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