This is the tale of two narratives.
HISD finds itself at the intersection of community unrest and administrative determination, as community members and Superintendent Mike Miles stand on opposing sides regarding the state takeover’s impact.
The HISD community, represented by over two dozen parents, teachers, and concerned citizens, made a compelling plea to the in Austin on Nov. 15.
Their central demand was to end the state takeover of Texas’ largest school district. Expressing deep concerns about the adverse effects on schoolchildren, the community alleges that the hostile state takeover initiated by the Texas Education Agency is significantly harming the educational experience for HISD students.
Meanwhile, Miles remains resolute in his stance, countering the community’s narrative by asserting that the intervention is driven by a commitment to achieving the district’s goals and ensuring his ‘wholescale systemic reform’ will significantly narrow the achievement gap, as outlined in Destination 2035.
Miles initiated “Straight from the Source,” a series of monthly briefings for the HISD community. The first of these sessions took place on Nov. 15 at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center to discuss updates on the district’s progress and goals.
The series comes after the District Advisory Committee (DAC) greenlit a plan that will move HISD one step closer to becoming a District of Innovation (DOI), which will open the doors to several policy changes, including changes to the start of the school year, creating stringent performance evaluations, and hiring uncertified teachers.
“The DAC’s vote last night for HISD to obtain DOI status shows how Houston is rallying around its students, making decisions based on their best interests,” Miles said in a message on X [formerly known as Twitter]. “This is the culture change taking place across our community and the transformative work underway in HISD.”
But critics are not convinced his actions fit the needs and concerns when it truly comes to the community. The first night of the series began with a packed room of central office administrators and principals from NES schools with the purpose of hearing about their experiences. The presence of regular board meeting attendees in person was surprisingly not there, even though Miles stated that community members were invited.
“We do want this to be a positive event. We want people to obviously talk about the challenges, but also talk about the progress.” Miles said during a press conference. “You hear enough sometimes about the distorted view in terms of what is going on, their misinformed viewpoints, and it’s time we hear from people who are doing the work.”
When a press member asked if actual community members would be included to participate in the series just as the principals did, Miles responded, “I don’t know.” He said it was a “good idea” and will talk with staff to see if it could be possible.
He also responded to a question about the advocates in Austin.
“I’m sorry to say, when you have the same people saying the same things every day and every month and then they say the same things in Austin, without much information, without much inquiry to what exactly happened, it’s not that we dismiss it, it’s certainly going to be discounted.”
When the Defender asked Miles if he has plans to work with the newly elected board of trustees, considering their role as advocates for the districts they represent, he said he’ll continue to work with them.
“I’ll continue to have quarterly meetings with the elected board members if they want,” he said. “I had meetings with all the elected board members this last quarter, and before the end of January. We’ll have a second set of meetings with the elected board, and then we’ll have it every quarter.”