Houston Community Members Rally Against HISD Superintendent Mike Miles’ New Education System


Governor Greg Abbott and newly elected Texas state leaders are conveying this wildly distasteful message to Houston students: Libraries are a privilege that they-for some odd reason-don’t deserve. Thankfully, parents and community members are not having this, and are demanding better for their children.

On Saturday, over 100 residents rallied together to protest against a plan to transform school libraries into “discipline centers.” This plan was formulated by newly state-appointed superintendent of the Houston Independent School District (ISD), Mike Miles. Community members gathered in front of the Houston ISD Headquarters-in the midst of excessive heat warnings-to express their disapproval of Miles’ New Education System. The protestors were also joined by the Houston NAACP, Congressman Al Green, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, Rep. Gene Wu, Rep. Jon Rosenthal and members from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Sen. John Whitmire’s offices.

Mike Miles’ New Education System plans include mass layoffs of librarians and media specialists in Texas’ largest school district. This system is targeting 85 schools. Miles was met with great disdain from parents when his school reform scheme was unveiled, rendering him extremely unpopular. Still, state-appointed leaders of Houston’s public school system continue to give him power. 

Last Thursday, the state-appointed Board of Managers gave Miles a $1 million spending budget that he could use without board approval. This will allow Miles to instill mass policy changes in HISD schools, hire non-certified teachers and modify union consultation rules. The highest spending budget without board approval for a superintendent before this was $100,000. 

Mile’s was appointed by state leaders to replace former unanimously voted interim superintendent, Grenita Lathan. The state was able to do this because of one singular school-Phillis Wheatley High School-which had poor performance over the past several years. Due to state policy, this allowed the Board of Managers to elect Miles instead of there being another locally elected HISD superintendent. Because of this, Houston Independent School District members are feeling not so independent anymore. 

In June, Mike Miles-who previously had a bad reputation as superintendent of Dallas ISD-had a conference at Phillis Wheatly where he shared his reasons for his New Education System and library transformations. 

“We’re staffing them in a way to get the outcomes we want,” he said. “So the outcomes we want are reading, writing, math achievement proficiency. We want to narrow the gaps, and then we want to prepare kids for the year 2035.”

Houston Public Media also reported objections by Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner. 

“Yes, some students are struggling and need additional support and attention,” she said. “But the answer isn’t throwing out libraries so that no student in that school can have access to a campus library. Especially not in neighborhoods where libraries are needed the most.”

Under the New Education System, veteran teachers in 28 schools also have to reapply to their jobs. 

Concerned parent and activist, Lauren Ashley, took the stand at this conference to express her contempt for the plan based on her own personal experience in the Houston Independent School District. She referenced a librarian that used to be her second grade teacher and “is the reason why [she is] such a voracious reader.”

“My major question is when are you leaving?” She said in her searing statement to Miles. “My second question is when you ultimately fail us-because you will, I can guarantee it-how do we then get you up out of here?”

Check out her full speech below.

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