Texas’s largest school district aimed to balance the scales amid worsening student enrollment with tough news for hundreds of administrators: “…we’re cutting some of that bloat.”
At the beginning of June, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) took dramatic steps to address a number of problems in the Houston Independent School District (HISD), including the appointment of a new superintendent, Mike Miles. Thursday, he announced his plan to reform the district for the benefit of students with the issuance of 672 pink slips.
Speaking at a virtual forum, Miles revealed that roughly 20 percent of administrative positions were being cut from the district. Between the layoffs and 1,675 vacant positions that were done away with, the total cuts came to 2,347 jobs getting axed.
“HISD’s central office has grown too much over the past decade,” the superintendent said. “At the same time, the student enrollment has decreased 27,000 kids.”
“So that shows you there was bloat in central office, and we’re cutting some of that bloat,” he declared.
A report from Houston Public Media detailed that the funds saved from the administrative cuts will be redirected toward 28 campus renovations to start as part of Miles’ New Education System. That plan included, “premade lesson plans for teachers, classroom cameras for disciplinary purposes and a greater emphasis on testing-based performance evaluations, among other initiatives.”
“Over the next two years, Miles plans to expand those controversial reforms to a total of 150 schools and to enact a district-wide, pay-for-performance model for all teachers,” the outlet further explained. “The changes will be expensive, and Miles said the administration will explore further cuts and possible campus closures over the coming years.”
Responding to the announcement, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner took to Twitter blaming the state for simply not throwing more money at the problem that has led to less than a third of fourth grade students meeting reading proficiency standards or better as reiterated by Miles at a recent town hall.
“Take this as a red flag. Next — program cuts, charter schools and school consolidations. Why? Because the state doesn’t want to fund fully public education,” Turner railed.
Superintendent is cutting 2300 positions from HISD. Take this as a red flag. Next- program cuts, charter schools and school consolidations. Why? Because the state doesn’t want to fund fully public education. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) July 21, 2023
Despite the mayor’s seemingly partisan objections, Miles’ appointment by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath on June 1 was part of a targeted response to address reported “mismanagement and alleged illegal activity by previous board members.”
In addition to seating a new superintendent, the TEA also ousted HISD’s board of nine elected trustees and appointed their own board to combat the rampant problems in the district that manages 274 schools and nearly 200,000 students.
Meanwhile, the bloated bureaucracy has also seen an exodus of teachers with roughly 300,000 leaving the profession between Feb. 2020 and May 2022, according to The Wall Street Journal. As previously reported, one former private school principal, an educator of 14 years, had left her career to homeschool her own children.
“I saw a lot of gaps in our school system and the direction that the schools are moving, both with student behavior and teacher shortages and what’s happening inside the classroom,” she told Fox News Digital. “It was not an environment that I felt promoted learning and promoted the life that I wanted my children to experience.”
“There are teachers that are burning out and are saying ‘the classroom is not a safe place for me, the classroom is not somewhere where I can do what I set out to do and teach and have accountability over my classroom,” she added. “Those are concerning.”
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