Zeph Capo, president of the Texas AFT,  writes here about the state’s determination to take over the Houston Independent School District because ONE SCHOOL HAS LOW TEST SCORES.

The State has failed in other takeovers, and its only plan in Houston is to usurp the elected school board. Capo believes that the goal is to allow charter operators a free hand in the state’s biggest school district.

He writes:

“In a profoundly unbelievable decision, the state announced last month it will take over the entire Houston school district, the largest district in Texas, even though the schools have been showing remarkable progress. Either the TEA doesn’t know what’s actually happening on the ground hundreds of miles away or, more likely, it doesn’t care because it is anxious to deliver Houston’s 284 public schools to charter operators. If the state succeeds, other Texas school districts could be its next target.

”The TEA has a poor track record on state takeovers and other interventions. Take the Marlin Independent School District, about 100 miles from Austin. In late 2016, the TEA replaced the district’s board of trustees with state-appointed managers, who basically rubber-stamped the desires of the TEA. It’s been nothing but failure ever since, including a revolving door of managers, the suspension of the latest superintendent and the revocation of Marlin’s accreditation status for the 2018-19 year after failing state academic accountability standards. It could be TEA’s next takeover target.

”When the state’s takeover of North Forest ISD didn’t succeed, the district was folded into the Houston ISD, at a time when the Houston district had a higher number of “improvement-required” schools than it does now.

“The state wants to take over two other small districts now — Shepherd ISD in East Texas and Snyder ISD in West Texas — and we’re very concerned that it’s not the right solution, especially given the state’s inability to put in place an effective improvement plan.

”The state’s move is especially baffling because the state itself — not some outside group — just awarded the Houston public schools an academic accountability rating of 88: nearly an A. But to justify its long-held ideological desire to hand over the entire Houston district to charter and other private groups, the TEA is using the fact that one school was chronically underperforming as an excuse to take over the whole district.

”The takeover is a deliberate attempt to silence the voices of Houstonians, who, just two days before the takeover announcement, acknowledged problems with the local school board and voted for new members who could better address the needs of the district’s black and brown students. The seizure of the Houston ISD and school board violates democratic principles.

“From the very beginning, the Houston takeover has been about a political, not an educational, agenda. Charter schools and other forms of privatized schools often are foisted on takeover districts. However, research shows that over the past 30 years and after more than 100 takeovers in districts across the country, state takeovers have failed to deliver in places such as Detroit, Newark (N.J.), Philadelphia and New Orleans. Millions of students and thousands of communities around the country have been victimized by aggressive state and federal intrusion into their local public education.”