The Hostile Takeover of HISD

16 Mar, 23

Dear Friends,

Yesterday the state of Texas made the appalling decision to take over the Houston Independent School District, one of the largest and most diverse districts in the country. This was a continuation of state officials’ all-out assault on our fundamental rights and freedoms like votingeducation, and our ability to make decisions at the local level.

We must take a stand against state leaders who have no respect for you- as voters, taxpayers, parents and decision-makers. This politically motivated takeover disregards what is best for Houston ISD students, violates community trust, and undermines effective local control. Even if you do not have children enrolled in HISD, you should know that the state won’t stop at the schools. It could be our land, our tax base and our right to choose our own leadership.

Since 2019 and even through the course of the pandemic and with no real help from the state, Houston ISD has made significant improvements across the district—not a single school is failing by the state’s own standards. Since 2015, HISD reduced its number of low-performing schools from 58 to nine, which is fewer than Dallas ISD. And 94% of schools have received a passing grades or or have exceeded expectations rating in 2022.

The only ones failing our students are the very state leaders who want to gut public education for political gain at the expense of Black and Brown students and their families who deserve better. Our state leaders have consistently underfunded education:

  • The per pupil spending rate in Texas is $4,000 below the national average, which is not adequate to meet student needs.
  • Texas ranks 38th nationally in teacher pay.
  • The state’s perpetual underfunding of public education is especially harmful to Black and Hispanic students who are 5 times more likely than white students to attend a high-poverty, under-resourced school due to decades of neglectful and discriminatory policies.

We know what they’re really up to. This takeover is spurred by the same groups who want to privatize our schools and give families “vouchers” that further divide our communities. This takeover is not about improving education. This is a blatant power grab rooted in a dangerous ideology that threatens public education, local control, and democracy in Texas. The State of Texas has never taken over a district of Houston ISD’s size, scale or complexity. And there is zero evidence that TEA has a plan to improve overall performance.

We must remain vigilant as the takeover process unfolds, and speak up and stand up for the children, teachers and staff who are caught in this fray. They deserve real resources and support to attain a quality education. Let’s not let them down.


Rodney Ellis