Texas could take over HISD. Here’s what we know so far.

Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Texas Education Agency, which could potentially take over the Houston Independent School District, which has nearly 200,000 students and 276 school campuses.

The decision follows allegations of misconduct brought by Education Commissioner Mike Morath and previous poor accountability ratings recorded by Phyllis Whitley High School HISD.

According to Houston Chronicle education reporter Rebecca Carballo, the court’s decision leaves three options for the district’s future. First, the TEA can appoint a conservative, replace HISD-elected board members, or do nothing and let the local council continue to govern itself.

On the TEA website, the Conservative/Observer is listed as an individual who oversees the activities of the District and may provide direction to the Campus Principal, Superintendent, and Board of Trustees regarding decisions regarding the District. This person is also required to identify performance issues and create a solution plan.

However, government intervention with the stated goal of improving educational outcomes in districts usually does not result in long-term improvements.

A 2021 study by University of Virginia professor of education Beth Schuler and University of Pittsburgh professor of education Joshua Bleiberg found no evidence that state acquisitions improve academic outcomes in local school districts. The study tracks government takeovers from the 1980s to 2016 and finds that, after a modest improvement in academic performance in various minority-dominated school districts, there has been an increase in educational disparity and representation on local councils.

According to the Texas Tribune’s demographic breakdown of HISD, 61% of HISD students are Hispanic, 22% identify as African American, 9.8% identify as white, 4% identify as Asian, and 1.4% identify as two or more races.

“Neighbourhoods that serve a large concentration of African American students tend to be more likely to be captured, regardless of the academic performance of those systems,” the study says. “We show that takeovers have become more frequent and shorter over time, are not exclusively a big city phenomenon, and tend to occur in areas with larger charter sectors.”

Schuler and Bleiberg’s study also found that state takeovers of public school districts tend to decrease the power and representation of local African Americans in the school system, while the political power and representation of Hispanics tends to increase. According to the results of the study, shortcomings in core subjects such as English and mathematics also persist after state mediation.

“On average, we find no strong evidence that absorption benefits students’ academic achievement in ELA or math, at least in the short term, and evidence that it tends to undermine student achievement in ELA in the early years of absorption” , the study says. reports. “These results do not support the theory that school board governance is the primary cause of underachievement in struggling school districts.”

Despite recent questions from TEA officials about the effectiveness of the district’s education, the state has given the Houston Independent School District a 4 in its responsibility rating. HISD employees don’t know what’s next as the county struggles to maintain local power.

HISD Superintendent Millard House II said the court’s decision would not affect business as usual.

“All of our children are learning as usual,” Millard said in a video posted to the county’s social media. “Your top teachers and advisors will continue to be around to support you and guide you on the path to success.”

TEA said it could not go into the details of what comes next, but is currently reviewing the Texas Supreme Court’s decision.

“This is being done to identify the next steps that will best support the students, teachers, parents, and school community of the Houston Independent School District,” said Jake Kobersky, TEA director of media relations.

Koberski added that the state could establish a board of governors. According to the TEA website, such a body temporarily replaces the elected members of the school board and oversees the school district.

In this case, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath can nominate whoever he wants to the HISD board.

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