Houston Federation of Teachers say Houston ISD takeover is 'the worst news'

Some local leaders say Wednesday’s announcement of the state's takeover was a hostile and unfair decision to the nearly 200,000 kids in the district.

Jackie Anderson, President of the Houston Federation of Teachers called it ‘the worst news’ and reportedly called the move a "hostile takeover."

"There was no transparency, no attempt to hear from the Houston community. This is outrageous," Anderson said.

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Anderson urged the state to work with the community to provide Houston public school students with resources they need to continue on a path of improvement.

"Educators, parents and the community remain resolutely opposed to this state-sponsored power grab to take over the Houston public schools. As far as I’m concerned, this is a hostile takeover. The state did this without any transparency or making any effort to get input from Houston parents, educators or other community members," said Anderson in a press release from HFT.

She says she and others tried to prevent the decision by showing the 30 years of research showing how takeovers don’t improve academic outcomes and actually disrupt kids’ overall progress.

"We may have lost the battle over the takeover, but we will work night and day not to lose the war for the best education possible for our children, who have been making real academic progress, though Gov. Greg Abbott and Education Commissioner Mike Morath won’t admit it. We know what’s best for Houston’s kids, and we will do everything in our power not to allow that progress to slide," Anderson said.

Congressman Al Green said he believes there's still time to boycott the decision.

"It's all about draining money from public dollars and bringing it into private pockets," Green said.

Bishop James Dixon is now calling on all federal levels to investigate. Dixon says he will take every legal action to prevent the takeover from happening in the fall.

"HISD has a B+ rating. But Klein has a B rating. Fort Bend has a B rating. Conroe has a B rating. But why is HISD the one being taken over," Dixon said.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, mentioned in the release from HFT the takeover is a power play, planned without essential community input. "The state of Texas has tried to take over the Houston schools for years. The reason that states say they want takeovers is to improve student achievement. What’s so unnerving is that Houston schools have indeed improved achievement, and its schools are in better shape than dozens of districts that do worse yet have not been subject to state control," Weingarten said. "This is clearly a shameful power play to take away local control of local public schools and put in place charters and vouchers. It’s unconscionable how this was done to Houston students, parents and educators, in a vacuum without community input and with no transparency."

Some parents and teachers also expressed their concerns.

"I know a lot of people were opposed to Wheatley being taken over. But was it fair to put an entire system at risk for one school? This is not about student outcomes. This is about money. HISD operates off a $2.2 billion dollar budget. This is about money. It's about contracts," said Michelle Williams, a teacher at HISD's Forest Brook Middle School.

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However, those in favor of the takeover agree that the decision was based on more than just students’ grades.

"It’s far more than just an F-rating from a school or something like that. You’re dealing with corruption; you’re dealing with folks being federally indicted. Enough is enough. I just feel like our children have been given a raw deal for at least the last 20 to 30 years, especially black and brown children. It’s time somebody come through and make sure these kids get educated," activist Gerry Munroe said.

In the release, Anderson and Thomas said educators are prepared with a plan to help Houston’s students continue on a path of improvement and hope the state’s takeover plan is prepared to meet them with the resources to make it happen, including:

  • Community schools that provide academic, social and emotional support for children.
  • Wraparound services that meet the needs of entire families, such as health clinics, food pantries, extra tutoring and before- and after-school enrichment programs.
  • Reduced class sizes.
  • Books published in this century.
  • An appropriate number of teachers and staff for every school and ways to retain and recruit great educators.
  • Funding equity for all schools to meet students’ needs.
  • Career and technical education programs.
  • Sufficient, modern and well-maintained educational materials and technology.
  • Fair evaluations of educators.