Governor Greg Abbott, not known for his educational credentials, tweeted insults at the school board of the Houston Independent School District. The privatization buzzards are circling. The governor wants to take over the entire district, even though no one at the state government or the Texas Education Agency knows how to turn around a district or even a school. As a graduate of the HISD, I take these insults personally. Since when did a Republican governor decide that local control was a terrible idea? Is Governor Abbott a socialist?

Thankfully, Jitu Brown of the Journey for Justice is in Houston, warning about what happened in Chicago and other cities.

Be it noted that no state takeover has ever succeeded. The bureaucrats know only one trick: give the public schools to charter operators, who kick out the kids with disabilities and English learners. Some reform.

The threat of a state takeover stems from a state law, known as HB 1842 and passed in 2015. It requires the state’s Education Commissioner to close schools or replace the entire elected school board if even one public school has failed state standards for five or more years. A separate law, known as SB 1882 and passed in 2017, gives a school board a two-year pause on those sanctions if they temporarily give financial and administrative control of the struggling schools to an outside group, such as a charter school network or nonprofit.

Last year, HISD had 10 schools that could trigger the state takeover. This year, four are on the watch list: Highland Heights Elementary School, Henry Middle School and Kashmere and Wheatley high schools.

In December, the Houston school board considered requesting proposals from outside groups to temporarily manage those schools. A nonprofit organized by Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office wanted to partner with the district and manage them, similar to a partnership model used in Los Angeles. The board decided 5-4 not to request any proposals — though it has until Feb. 4 to send any partnership proposal to the state.

That timeline was already creating pressure.

But Abbott’s tweet has intensified the debate. The governor said that the board’s “self-centered ineptitude has failed the children they are supposed to educate. If ever there was a school board that needs to be taken over and reformed it’s HISD. Their students & parents deserve change.”

HISD board members have pushed back against that criticism.