Greg Abbott’s Tweet Shines A Spotlight On Troubled Houston School District

A chronically failing school and controversy within the school board are among the issues roiling HISD.

By Jill Ament & Joy DiazJanuary 7, 2019 12:34 pm,

Texas Governor Greg Abbott doesn’t make news with his Twitter feed as much as other politicians who may come to mind. But he did turn some heads with a tweet last Thursday.

So, given Abbott’s recent criticism, what could be next for Houston Independent School District?

Jacob Carpenter reports on K-12 education for the Houston Chronicle, and says Houston’s school board has made controversial moves recently, and the district is facing other long-term problems.

In October, five of the nine board members ousted the district’s interim superintendent, all without informing the other members or the public. They subsequently reversed that decision.

Another area of concern is the continued poor performance of Kashmere High School,Carpenter says. The school has failed to meet state standard for nine straight years – longer than any other school in the state. The school is among the district’s smallest and poorest schools.

“That’s led to a lot of frustration – a belief that there’s a generation of kids that are missing out on a good academic program,” Carpenter says.

Opinions about what should be done in Houston vary, Carpenter says. They range from the governor’s assertion that a complete change in leadership is needed, to education advocates who support additional funding for struggling schools.

Carpenter says it’s not yet clear whether the state could take over HISD, like the governor suggested.

“There’s a statute that says [if there’s] a school district that has had a state-appointed conservator for two years, [then] the state could immediately appoint a board of managers,” Carpenter says. “At a very minimum, there’s another state statute that says if any school within a district does not meet state standard for five consecutive years, the state must immediately appoint a board of managers.”

In that case, a board of managers replaces the elected school board. The statute also requires the district to close a school that has failed to meet standards for five years.

The city of Houston has formed a nonprofit meant to take over failing schools and run them as charter schools. But Carpenter says the school board would have to approve the takeover of any particular school.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.