Texas Education Agency Takes Over Houston ISD
This article is an opinion piece from Bill Lockwood. Catch Patriotic Pulpit with Bill Lockwood weekly at 11 a.m. Saturdays on NewsTalk 1290.
On March 3, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced that it has plans to “install state-appointed managers in place of the Houston Independent School District’s elected school board.”
The Education Commissioner Mike Morath assured Houston Public Media that this decision "does not reflect on the hard working teachers and staff of Houston ISD." Hinting that more money is needed Morath noted that “there are many students in Houston that are truly flourishing, but there are also a large number of students in Houston who have not been given the supports necessary to succeed.”
Morath also described the Houston ISD Superintendent Millard Housell as a “student-focused man of integrity” but that he will be replaced.
The takeover by TEA means that the state agency will control the budget, school closures, collaboration with charter networks, policies around curriculum and library books, as well as hiring or firing the superintendent, among other important decisions.
Why is TEA stepping in?
Since we are being assured that the problems in the Houston ISD is not related to the superintendent, to the teachers and staff, nor to the students themselves, why is TEA taking over control?
The takeover is primarily due to years of low standardized test scores and post-graduate performance at Wheatley High School, one of the district’s 280 campuses in 2019. Although there are some schools in the district that are high-performing, schools like Wheatley and Kashmere struggle year after year.
State Assistance Solicitor General Kyle Highful told Texas supreme court justices in October that “if you’re a student at one of the low-performing schools, it doesn’t help you to know that elsewhere in the district there’s a school that’s doing great. And the commissioner believes that every student should have access to a quality education.”
In the 2018-19 school year Wheatley High School served 460 African-American students, 403 Hispanic students, three Asian students, and three white students. Ninety-four percent were classified as “economically disadvantaged.”
Education Commissioner Morath stated that “most minorities start from behind. And starting from behind means you have to catch up. And you’re playing catch up for so long that eventually your status quo catches up to you.”
The school’s special education population was also significantly higher than district and statewide averages. More than 20 percent of the students at Wheatley were in special education, compared to seven percent across the district and 10 percent across the state.
What is the root of the problem?
It is not, as historian Karen Benjamin who was quoted in the article states, that “segregation” is the problem. People frequently segregate themselves when government leaves them alone. Witness the number of black churches across the land. Nor is it the lack of money that the state pours into various schools. Schools that are behind are awash in money, yet politicians and professors call for more “resources.”
The answers go deeper than any of these things.
First, minority communities as a whole do not value education. This is not to say that no minority child can learn, or that every minority family falls into this category. But by-and-large, minority families do not place the same importance on educational achievement as the majority population.
Watching what is unfolding in Houston one would suppose that better instruction from TEA will solve the problem. The truth that no one wants to hear is that minority communities do not see “learning” as important. No teacher nor school, regardless of how talented the staff may be, can be expected to develop minds that do not wish to be developed.
We have sold ourselves on the idea that “all students are capable of learning” but have ignored the obvious fact that capability does not mean cooperation. There is no reading, no homework, nor examples of reading being done in their homes. No parent sits down with the children to require them to memorize multiplication tables. Cooperation is not there. This is why minority children "are starting from behind."
This is the same true across the board. Black colleges cannot get young black men to enroll in engineering programs, for example. Why? Most of them do not wish to enroll. This has nothing to do with poverty, either. Most education is paid for by the American taxpayer. They do not value engineering degrees.
Second, minority communities frequently do not have respect for authority figures. If anyone doubts this, simply visit public schoolhouses. Approximately seventy-five percent of African-Americans grow up in homes without a father. They are further taught the Marxist lie that they are and have been oppressed by “white people.” Consequently, a large majority of them grow up angry at society and angry at any authority-figure in the home, the school, the community, or the nation.
This explains why teachers are quitting in droves across the country. Student populations are behaviorally out-of-control. Respect for authority is quickly evaporating. This then carries into adulthood where God is not respected and his Word is flaunted. Solomon warned that “The fear of the Lord [respect for God] is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7). Lack of any kind of respect for people or private property does not portend a good education.