Karina Quesada-Leon appeared on PDR to discuss the State of Texas takeover of the Houston Independent School District in an attempt to privatize it.
Karina Quesada-Leon discusses the HISD takeover.
The Houston Independent School District (HISD) has been taken over by the state of Texas, a move seen by many as an attempt to privatize the district, fostering control eventually through private charter schools. The takeover was facilitated by the implementation of laws such as HB 1842 and SB 1365, which introduced the concept of “districts of innovation,” allowing districts to exempt themselves from various Texas Education Code regulations, including the requirement to have certified teachers and maintaining a limit on class sizes.
Karina Quesada-Leon, a mother of three and former teacher, discussed her dismissal from the district advisory committee (DAC) by the new administration following the takeover. She noted that the DAC is primarily an advisory body without substantial power. However, it plays a significant role in approving plans for a district to become a “district of innovation,” ensuring that community members, parents, and teachers agree to possible exemptions from certain regulations. Karina emphasized that the dismissal of several members from the DAC, including her, seemed strategically aimed to favor the district’s transformation into a “district of innovation,” a process she sees as circumventing established rules and disregarding community voices.
The initial justification for the HISD takeover was the poor performance of a single school, Wheatley High School, even though the school was showing signs of improvement. There are several other districts in Texas performing worse than HISD but have not faced a takeover. Karina contended that the takeover seems more politically motivated, as HISD resisted pressures to convert some of its schools into charter schools, a move many other districts took to avoid a state takeover.
Discussing the management approach of the new HISD superintendent, Mike Miles, Karina confirmed that Miles had a history of scandals in Dallas and criticized his administration’s lack of sensitivity and disregard for community input, highlighting an instance where the voices of parents, teachers, and even students who spoke out in a meeting were dismissed as lies.
Karina stressed the need for the community to come together and engage in direct actions to resist the ongoing changes, which she perceives as guided primarily by the intention to privatize and potentially monetize the education system, eroding the standards of public education. She urged the community to remain vigilant, stay informed, and actively participate in the discussions surrounding the school district to protect the interests of the students and the broader community.