HISD students deserve better

02 Aug, 23

Dear Friends,

As a product of Houston ISD, I know that with support and good teachers, every child has the potential to be a leader in our community.

Educational equity means every student has the opportunity to learn and thrive. It means every student, no matter their grades, socio-emotional needs, or socioeconomic status, starts and ends their day in a safe environment maintained by caring adults who believe in their potential. This is what public education advocates, parents, and community members have been fighting for across generations, long before Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka declared state-sanctioned segregation violated the Constitution.

The decision by Houston ISD’s state-appointed superintendent to remove libraries from already under-resourced schools pulls up the ladder for communities of color, condemning children to routinized surveillance that sends a message: you don’t belong.

This takeover of our schools and libraries turns a space for learning into a pathway to “detention.” Even worse, it represents yet another example of bad actors using our public schools as pawns for their broader goals of hoarding resources and keeping disadvantaged communities in their place.

School libraries were not only eliminated – they were replaced by detention spaces, taking the state’s censorship efforts and attacks on communities of color to a new level. Adding insult to injury, the district is seeking a waiver for teacher certification. So, a family sending a child to a “New Education System” (NES) school can expect uncertified, novice teachers and a culture of separation – not restoration.

These actions – along with the state’s broader efforts to ban books; end diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; target trans youth; and remove college professors – smack of oppressive tendencies reminiscent of times in history that we must not repeat.

Along with my colleagues, I will push back against these efforts at the local level and continue to advocate to uphold the values of democracy, uplift diversity, and empower our youth to become informed, active citizens of the world.


Rodney Ellis