The state-appointed Houston Independent School District Board of Managers is embarking on a series of meetings with community members to discuss their vision for the 2023-2024 school year. Their first stop took place at Farias Early Childhood Center on Sept. 5, but there are several more scheduled, including the next one up on Sept. 11 at Energy Institute High School (3501 Southmore Blvd).
In order to foster transparency, collaboration, and community engagement, these sessions aim to bridge the gap between the district’s leadership and its stakeholders. The gatherings are in response to the pressing need for HISD leadership to connect with the community, hear their concerns, and chart a path forward.
Under the leadership of HISD Superintendent Mike Miles, the district has undergone a significant transformation. These changes encompass a range of initiatives, such as reducing the district’s central office workforce by more than 500 positions, introducing specialized “Zoom rooms” to address student behavior issues, and implementing the New Education Systems program.
These initiatives are all part of a broader framework known as “Destination 2035,” a long-term strategic plan that outlines Miles’s ambitious goals. At its core, Destination 2035 seeks to narrow the academic achievement gap among students and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the workforce of 2035.
Audrey Momanaee, president of the Board, extended a warm welcome to participants, urging them to openly articulate their “vision and values” for the district. This comes as the Board embarks on the vital task of establishing goals and constraints for HISD. Two other members of the Board were present, Ric Campo and Janette Garza Lindner. It’s noteworthy that they will rotate participation with the other six managers in the upcoming meetings.
The Defender spoke to one veteran HISD educator, who chose to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. She said that as a concerned educator and grandmother to HISD students, the model that Miles created leaves no flexibility for the teachers, innovation, or creative ideas that resonate with students. Instead, teachers must instruct for 10 minutes and give a five-minute question check before returning to the lesson for another 10 minutes.
“Right now, this is a media opportunity for the Board of Managers,” she said. “It’s a check off to say, ‘We did this.’ But realistically, will they challenge Mike Miles about our concerns?”
Community members were asked to complete forms detailing their concerns for the Board’s review. For the most part, some attendees believed the Board was receptive to their issues but felt there needed to be a connection between what goes on in the classrooms.
Michelle Williams, president of the Houston Education Association, is an advocate who has been very vocal during the board meetings and the decisions made under Miles’ leadership. Williams is concerned that the Board isn’t doing enough to address the exodus of teachers as the new school year began.
“You can’t have a conversation about HISD children without creating a constraint about human capital,” she said. “When will we see you all take action on these items? Some organizations are gearing up against HISD. These laws are being broken, and you all are turning a deaf ear.”
Here is the list of upcoming community meetings
- Sept. 11, Monday, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Energy Institute High School at 3501 Southmore Blvd.
- Sept.12, Tuesday , from 6-7:30 p.m. at Rodriguez Elementary School at 5858 Chimney Rock Road
- Sept. 13, virtual meeting from 6-7:30 p.m.
- Sept. 15, Friday , from 6-7:30 p.m. at T.H. Rogers School at 5840 San Felipe St.
- Sept.16, Saturday , from 10-11:30 a.m. at Highland Heights Elementary School at 865 Paul Quinn St.
- Sept. 18, Monday, from 6-7:30 p.m. Westside High School at 14201 Briar Forest Drive